A tabled plea

Gavin Gaddis

Dear students and instructors who move tables/desks in classrooms,

Put them back when you’re done.

Magic fairies don’t pop out of the computer cases and re-arrange desks in the night – UE outbid us on that service.

When I transferred to USI last semester, the new classrooms in the Orr Center still had their new car smell and everyone seemed obsessed by the additions.

“It’s so new.”

“The wall is a whiteboard!”

“Why isn’t the trim back in the hallways before midterm?”

“Why did they install the projector so close to a reflective white surface?”

There were a lot of comments made, but one improvement that many instructors seem to enjoy is that of the mobile tables.

Sayonara, boring single desks. Hello two-person rolling tables.

Now you can re-arrange classrooms to your heart’s content.

Want to lecture to a big circle?

Want to make a row down the middle instead of two rows on the sides? Want to re-create the barricade from “Les Miserables”?

Now you can.

Yet with all of this new possibility comes an extra point of failure.

I quote one of the greatest minds of the 20th century: “Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.” – Barney the Dinosaur.

Come on guys, my boy BtD drilled this one into you a million times in the 90s. Whether you experienced it as a kid, or suffered through it as a parent – helpless against the siren song of the purple dinosaur – Barney informed you that it’s best to put crap back where it belongs.

Given that every classroom ends up back in the popular ‘desk, walkway, multiple desks, walkway, desk’ layout when left to their own devices – whether by students like me or by some form of gravitational anomaly – there is an accepted norm.

Some people are breaking this accepted norm, including whatever class meets the night before one of my morning classes.

“Gavin, it only takes five minutes to put it back together. Stop whining or just wait for someone else to fix it.”

I hear you, scary disembodied voice, but I do not agree.

Two days a week for over eight weeks, I’ve come to campus early so I might have some quiet time in a classroom reading, alone.

Every single time I have to break down the previous class’s more communal ‘circle of desks around instructor’ layout and put the chairs back.

This is not a particularly stressful physical exercise, but it’s something I have to do without any say in the matter.

If I wait for the instructor to show up and say, “This layout sucks, put it back,” then we’re wasting time farting around with tables and chairs.

When the clock hits end-time, sometimes you’ve just got to get out of that classroom. A job is waiting, your spouse needs you to take over baby-sitting, or your Facebook hasn’t been updated in 76 minutes –  important things.

I beg of you, be you instructor or student, take a moment to put the classroom back into its original formation.

Instructors: If you make your students change the room, set an alarm for the end of your lecture.

If you’re going to spend five minutes of lecture time on making a circle, allocate five extra minutes at the end of your lecture to have your students put them back.

You made that choice, not the students and instructor of the class after you.

Students: If you move a table out of personal preference, or your instructor has a certain preference, put the tables back into normal-world formation.

This is by no means the most important issue that needs addressing at the moment, but I feel that attending class in a building full of adults should mean that I would not be put in a position where I feel almost punished for showing up early.