Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get Lost

Finding Your Way Around Beacon
By Samantha Bratz
News You Can Use Editor

The stairs leading to confusion.
Photo By Samantha Bratz

When Beacon Hall opened it was not just the students who could not find their way around, the teachers had issues too.

“I’m so lost. I have no idea where I’m supposed to be or where I’m supposed to go. Does anybody know where room (fill in the blank) is?” These words have been heard quite a lot lately as students try to get around HCC’s latest addition, Beacon Hall. Students are not the only ones who’ve been having issues finding their way around; several teachers have been having the same problem.

On September 2nd when the doors to Beacon Hall opened, we were all shocked to see that though the building looked small from the outside, the inside was ten times bigger and it felt like walking through a maze instead of hallways. Students, teachers and staff members alike could be seen walking all over campus examining the maps that were handed out to help us find our way.

I, like several other students, figured that the teachers would have been more familiar with the building before the first day of classes; but I was wrong - so very, very wrong. I heard one student ask her teacher if she could point her in the direction of her next class and the response she received was “No, I’m sorry. This is my first day here too; I was here one day last week to see my office and I don’t know how to get through the building yet.”

On the first day of class, Professor Claudine Coba-Loh who is the Chairperson of the Behavioral/Social Sciences Department, told her Addiction and Mental Illness in Behavioral Health class, “I’ve found pathways from my office to the classrooms where I teach, my office to the bathroom and my office to the water fountain. I have yet to venture to the third floor.”

Security guards patrolled the hallways trying to help lost and confused students and teachers find their way. This was a great method to help us all ease into life at Beacon Hall – until you came across a security guard that did not know their way around the building either; it was sort of like the blind leading the blind.

As I walked into Beacon Hall on the first day of classes I said to my self “Okay, this is a little bigger than you thought…but you know where you’re going; it’s going to be easy.” I soon lost that confidence when I reached level 2 and saw room numbers like 267 and 291 and I needed to find 232. So I walked around for awhile until I finally stopped and said “Where the hell am I? Is my class invisible?” Then I realized that if I walked past the stairwell I would be taken into another hallway that contained all the classrooms from number 234 down. The map was a very helpful method in guiding people around the new building except that it did not clearly show that there are hallways next to the stairwells that lead to other hallways. If I’d known that I could have saved myself a lot of time and aggravation.

Judith Taylor, a patrol officer in Beacon Hall, said that when the new building opened “everything went well. Having the security guards around really helped and they made sure everyone had a map; the maps really helped people find their way around.” Taylor went on to say that “there really were no major problems or concerns when it came to people finding their way around the building. The only problem that occurred the first week was only having one elevator that worked, making it difficult for people with disabilities to get around. Everyone now knows their way around the building and things are going great.”

During the first week of classes I saw teachers in groups of two or three walking through the halls of Beacon Hall. I have a bad habit of eavesdropping but the things I heard from the teachers were shocking yet funny.

I had to laugh when I saw a group of teachers, two women and one man, walking and talking in the hall. One woman said “I have a class in ten minutes and I don’t know where it is and I still have to go to my office to get my stuff but I don’t know where my office is. Are we even on the right floor?”

The other woman said “Yeah well when I went to look for my office I ended up in the bathroom. I came this close to walking into the men’s room.”

Whether you’re a student or a staff member you have to admit that the first week or two at Beacon Hall was kind of confusing. Though the teachers received their keys the week before classes started it is highly unlikely that exploring the new building was a top priority when they had to unpack their offices and get ready for the new semester.

When asked if teachers and staff members should have had more time to familiarize themselves with the new building Coba-Loh said, “I absolutely do. It was very chaotic (and still is to a lesser degree) with no computers, no telephones, no internet, no copy machines, unpacking to do, and classes starting, it was all very rushed.”

Samantha Mannion, professor of Criminal Justice and Political Science and the Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Program said, “I think any move is stressful and requires time to adjust to. I think even if we had had more time, there would have been confusion and start-up issues.”

So we’ve all survived the first few weeks at Beacon Hall; some of us just barely. Could things have gone better when Beacon Hall opened on September 2nd? Yes. Coba-Loh said, “Scheduled tour dates for students, staff, faculty etc. once the building opened would have been helpful. It should be showed off, it is beautiful!”

“It’s a shame that the printed signs directing people around the building were not in place when the move occurred. It would have definitely made it easier for people to navigate their way around the building” said Mannion. She continued with, “I think it would have been a smoother transition if more of the construction-related work had been completed at the time of the move.

It’s hard being over here without proper resources (i.e. working copy machines, food services, etc.) I also believe it would have been much better if the two college buildings had been connected at the time of the move. Right now, with the construction work in the courtyard, it really feels as if we’re operating two separate colleges.”

With that said, those of you who are still having a hard time finding your way around Beacon Hall should take Coba-Loh’s advice and “take the time to walk around. Give yourself time to orient yourself to the new building. It is a big, beautiful facility and spending some down time going on your own tour is great.” Who knows, maybe we’ll conquer this great building after all.

No comments: