The haphazardness, the mad dash — calamity hits after the cannon sounds. You may think we’re describing “The Hunger Games,” but this is actually a snapshot of the first three minutes of a class on the fifth floor of Morey.
For known reasons that we’ll get into later, professors at UR love to arrange classes that are too big for a horseshoe shape, into a horseshoe shape. We’re not here to debate the merits of the horseshoe shape — it can work with enough space — but when you spend 75 minutes with a classmate’s elbow in your mouth, it may inhibit your ability to learn.
Beating out the overflowing horseshoe design and coming in first place for the worst classroom conception ever is CSB 209, a large room with high ceilings, terrible acoustics and, most notably, those portable rolly desks that always inevitably congregate together into an amorphous solid in the center of the room. Given our open curriculum, it’s no secret UR is into academic freedom, but the absolute anarchy getting in and out of a seat in CSB 209 shows that a little structure can go a long way.
In addition to being just plain annoying, such an uncomfortable seating arrangement can add legitimate stress for students taking tests. And having to physically rearrange the seats every single day shaves a few minutes off each class. It’s practically work-study, but yet again UR falls short in compensating its students. More seriously, if there’s an emergency and you have to get up, it’s impossible to not disrupt the entire class.
Honorable mentions go out to all the classrooms on campus that can’t really be fixed or changed but are still miserable. Although the seats are stationary, Lower Strong is an overwhelmingly hot place, because nothing improves academic performance like learning in a cramped boiler room. Classrooms without windows — spread throughout Bausch and Lomb, Hylan, Meliora, and Hutch, to name a few — also exist for some reason. Gavett doesn’t have a third floor — as it’s permanently under construction — but the building does have a hamster tube hallway leading to the only two classrooms on that level.
While professors should have the choice to organize their physical classroom however they want, they wouldn’t have to get so creative if administration was on their side. If UR actually knew how many students were planning to take each class and stuck by that number instead of allowing “just one more student” to squeeze in 15 more times, professors and administrators could more easily find the best classroom for each class size.
Alternatively, UR could work with professors to accommodate with a more appropriately sized room. This might turn the first week of each semester into a game of musical classrooms, but it beats spending the next 14 weeks or so sitting in the second layer of a horseshoe, staring with your classmates at the empty space void of all desks in the center of the room.
End the double-chinned horseshoe. Plan class sizes accordingly. And for the sanity of all students, please never invest in a portable desk design again.