Slope, rise over run, or even pitch, if you will. For any given staircase, there exists a ratio which describes how steep it is. This University, conveniently, has no consistency in their stair design: The first-year quad has some beefy steps and Wilco has tiny little bitch stairs. There’s a special level of Hell reserved for whomever designed the staircases traversing our lecture halls. 

Every other step is twice as deep, holding certainly more than one stride but not even close to two of them. This is fine on any given day, but when you’re running 15 minutes late for a calculus lecture, you don’t exactly pay attention to the layout of the stairs. I had a cup of coffee in one hand, AirPods in the other, and my jacket on my arm. Everything went everywhere and all I could do was scoop up what remained of my dignity. I took the first seat I could find next to someone I have never met before and have not seen since. No words were exchanged about my forceful encounter with the floor. 

Gavett is such a peculiar series of additions, forced together to create an impassable labyrinth. The bathrooms are located, in theory, on every other floor. In practice, I have never arrived early enough before class to locate one. That all changed when I desperately needed to find it one day, and had roughly six and a half minutes to find the bathroom, use it, and return. Most of the time was wasted locating the room, which led me to be in quite a rush on the way back. If you are not familiar with the staircases in Gavett, they are quite wide: roughly six people wide. I was sprinting up the steps, landing on every fourth, when my face decided now was the perfect time to take a very close look at the steps. I picked myself up fairly quickly, only to be met face to face with a girl on a slightly higher step asking if I was okay. In my infinite wisdom, I simply responded with “No, what! These stairs? I’m good! How are you? Bye!” and ran off before she could say another word. I found my seat after class began and realized everything hurt as the adrenaline wore off. 

The vast majority of campus is relatively safe, leaving very few places to have a fall truly go wrong. As a wise man once said, “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop.” Every once in a while, I find myself on the sixth floor of the stacks, hoping to get a large chunk of work done. More times than I care to remember, I’ve watched the planes land at Rochester International when a group of students has come scampering over my desk and out the windows to watch the sunset from the top of Rush Rhees. The only issue with this? The height. From the roof, hooligans will quickly find themselves seven stories up on a roof with absolutely no restraints or inhibitions to be found. In this situation, an altered mindset is almost a given, which substantially adds to the danger. Falling down on the stairs is one thing. But this is seven stories (!) of free fall. With a floor of loose gravel, no railing, and dim lighting, the roof is not the wisest of places to fall. Oh, but of course this information is just hearsay, as I myself have not partaken in roof shenanigans, nor do I endorse them.

There is no good place to take a tumble on campus, only some places less awful than others. The stairs into the Pit offer an easy recovery, but the exposure provides no resistance to becoming the laughing stock of the student body. The hidden stairs in the stacks are exactly 24 inches wide (yes, I have measured). Falling down those is a challenge, but when in a rush, it can be far too easy to fall into them. Thankfully, due to the tight quarters, recovery can be attained by simply extending limbs in every possible direction.

In conclusion, campus is a fucking agility course and I have the knees of a 40-year-old.

Tagged: Stairs


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