by Julia Wallace
Even as a senior, McClurg can be a daunting space. Not including the few that live off campus, every student goes at least twice (and up to ninetimes) a day. It’s arguably the most communal place on campus, and at peak meal times it seems like all 1,560 of us are crammed inside, clinging to our little white plates for dear life. I try to suppress most of the anxiety McClurg inspired in me as a freshman, but the memories from one fateful night remain clear. Ignorant as to why freshman always sit in the nonnave side of the dining hall, a friend and I decided to wander over to the longer tables for an early dinner.
“Do you want to just sit here?”
The front table, the very front table is where we landed. We were fine for a few minutes. Two guys came over and sat at the other end, but we weren’t fazed (in spite of all the empty tables they ignored behind us). But then two more guys sat down. And then four more. And then seven more. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by upperclassmen KAs who very obviously disapproved of our seating choice. The pressure was enough to suffocate us, and we all but ran out with food still on our plates.
Although funny to look back on now, the experience was all but welcoming. More than being embarrassed, I remember
feeling disappointed by the juvenility of the set up. It was like something out of Mean Girls. “You got your frat boys, your sorority girls, more frat boys, more sorority girls, some more frat guys, miscellaneous faculty, and the dorm matrons.” Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I walked over to Frat Side this year. I never thought I had the capacity to be so thrilled by circular tables. Gone is the feigned fraternal dominance! As trivial as this move may sound, these new tables bring an equal eating field that didn’t exist last year.
There is just no need for people to feel that they own and deserve to own a particular piece of a place that rightfully belongs to everyone. That asks for bad blood. Of course people in the same Greek organization should sit together if they so desire, which is why the longer tables are still available farther back. Brotherhood, sisterhood—it’s great stuff. But to have the option for smaller groups (of any sex or Greek affiliation [GDIs even!]) to sit closer to the food and exits seems like common sense.
Even though this is article of my own opinion (sorry for getting meta), I thought I would employ the wise words of Dr. Chris McDonough of the Classics department. “[I feel] that it’s a little more inviting if there isn’t a block of long tables confronting you as you walk in. Especially for people who may want to eat quickly and run off to class, it’s nice not to have to walk way into the interior of McClurg. Actually it would be great if they turned the tables longwise like Hogwarts!”