Students wonder why hallway discussions were tabled

Daniella Amendola, Print Editor

The round table on third floor of Mercy Hall, a popular student and faculty gathering spot, is gone, and students are wondering why.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, students were greeted with a missing table and a sign saying that the table had been moved to Mercy 335.

“I was going to a draft meeting when I first discovered that the table was gone,” said junior English and secondary education major Kimberly Kowalski. “I was shocked and thought it must have been some practical joke. I felt as though a sense of comfortability, friendliness, and community was suddenly gone from third floor Mercy. It was a shock, and I was not at all happy.”

Kowalski said the table was important because it gave students  a place to sit down while they wait for meetings, professors and classes. “It made the third floor of Mercy seem a bit more homey, if that makes any sense. It was a nice place to sit and chat with your friends, do homework, or register for classes.

She said she camped there each semester during registration because it was a comfortable and friendly environment.

“It creates a sense of community on the third floor. You could be talking to a friend or a professor while sitting at the table and before you know it, there is a swarm of people participating in a conversation. It helps bring ideas to the table, literally.”

The relocation of the table to Mercy 335 does not make its removal any better to Kowalski.

“With the table being moved to such a closed-off space, it feels as though those who once sat at the table are now outcasts. It’s isolating that table, and it’s not a productive or comfortable environment. This new space does not generate the academic and positive conversations that were once possible.”

Junior history and English major, Briana Scorey has similar views on the table’s relocation.

“Having that table gives us the opportunity to interact with our professors in a comfortable way outside the classroom and feel close to them,” said Scorey. “When they come by, we have the most interesting and awesome chats, and it really contributes to a great student-professor relationship and atmosphere. Having it removed without a word felt like that relationship wasn’t valued by some and was being cut off unnecessarily.”

Scorey believes that Mercy 335 is a decent space, but the quality of the room is beside the point.

“If it was about creating more space for students, they could have created that first without taking away the table,” said Scorey. “As of now, it feels very much like a removal, rather than trying to expand comfort and space for students. I’m glad students have that room, but I think it would have been far better received had it been created without removing the table or before it was moved.”

She said he doesn’t care for the room because he feels like she’s disturbing students who use it to do work when the other lab is being used for various classes and training sessions.

Scorey said she believes that the table should be moved back.

“A different table put in that room would be fine, but we just miss having our space in the hall,” said Scorey. “Those against the table in the hall really just don’t seem to get the point that the space there is a hub for professor and student interaction because of its ideal location. If there is a noise problem, the loud students should be told to be quiet by professors, or an announcement about noise level should be made.”

Dr. Heidi Manning, Dean of the College of Art and Sciences, said the move was intended to offer students more and better space.

“I saw a good number of students,” said Manning, “and it was often crowded around that table. There were usually four, if not more, students there, and to me it seemed like they needed more space. I’m new here, I’ve only been here about four months, and this fall semester I’ve been learning more about Misericordia.”

Manning said she’d walk down the hall and see Mercy 335, which is a computer room, barely used.

“So I went and did a survey. First I asked if it was possible to just take that Mercy 335, and make it into a study space. My idea for making Mercy 335 a study space is, you know, there are classes up here, there are faculty offices up on this floor, but there’s no good space for lots of students to be.”

Manning said that the study lounge in lower Mercy is available but not convenient in relation to where the faculty and classrooms are.

Mercy 335, according to Manning, seemed like prime real estate that was not utilized well.

“My reasoning for moving the table into that room was to make more space for more students,” said Manning, “and to make better use of Mercy 335.”

Manning admitted that part of it stemmed from some faculty who asked if there was anything that could be done about the noise.

“With a large number of students, sometimes it gets noisy, and they had to shut their doors. We want to promote faculty interaction with students, and when their door is closed, to me that signifies that it’s not as inviting.”

She said the suddenness of the table’s relocation is an issue.

“I will say that is a mistake I made,” said Manning, “not realizing just how to communicate, and to whom to communicate, that we wanted to change this. In hindsight it would have been better to do it after the semester, and do it over winter break. Basically as soon as it was approved it had to go through the facility’s committee, and as soon as they approved it the table could be moved. At first the thinking was well, let’s move it and get people accustomed to it before finals so that they have this space.”

Manning said that she made a note on the white board in Mercy 335 asking for students to share how to make the room a nicer study space. Some students wrote to bring the table back, but some wrote to keep the table where it is. There were also comments to add a microwave, a refrigerator and a coffee machine.

“I’m not opposed to that, though I spoke to the folks who run the computers, and they’re a little hesitant to have all the food and everything.”

The possibility of bringing the table back, or even providing a new table to the third floor Mercy hallway, is under consideration.

“When I moved it out, and what I told the students that I met with shortly after it got moved is that nothing’s permanent,” said Manning. “There are no permanent changes. The table could come back just as easily as well. Let’s just try it here for a while, and see if it works at all or not.”