To me, CAB is one of the most infuriating places to try to find a spot to sit on campus. Whether the seat is desired for eating, socializing, or studying (probably not the best place for that), I have seen numerous awkward “oh-snap-I-was-gunna-sit-there” situations occur.
I can’t count the number of times I have personally strolled over to an empty table totally confident that the spot was mine, blinked, and realized that someone else snatched it first. (They must have been scouting patiently from across the Timmies…)
I have also been in the flip- situation, seated on an empty couch in CAB sipping my coffee and noticing another student frantically searching for a space to sit. In these moments, I sometimes wonder if I am really that un-approachable to come sit next to (as I mentioned, there was plenty of room on the couch), or if people would rather avoid the forced social interaction of asking “is that seat taken?”
In either of these cases, it seems like there is an implicit challenge in securing a good seat on campus. Here are some do’s and don’ts that might bring awareness and perhaps alleviate some of that unnecessary stress.
1) Don’t be that person hogging up a disproportionate amount of space in a high-traffic area for your bags, outerwear, or garbage.
A lack of awareness for others hinders the sort of considerate and open environment we aim for at the U of A. This could also lead to negative conversation when you are kindly asked to “move your stuff” to make space.
2) Do try to be empathetic (and creative) in your approach to asking for a seat.
It is unnerving to ask to join a table when the person already present appears to be in hard-core study mode. In this case, or any other scenario, be cognizant of what the other person is doing. If they seem to be cramming for a midterm tomorrow, be concise, and courteous when you take your seat. On the other hand, if they are relaxing reading a book you read for a course last semester, bring it up in conversation, and perhaps you could find yourself with a seat plus a new friend.
3) Do use spots on campus for what they are meant for.
There is nothing worse than trying to finish something for a class last-minute and having your laptop die without access to an outlet in your immediate vicinity. For spots like this one, it is important keep in mind that outlets are hot commodities. Share them if you don’t need to use them. More things would fall into place if we used seating places in a fitting and equitable way.
4) Don’t make the person change their mind if they agree to let you have the seat next to them.
Respect the space and the fact that they were there first. Use headphones if you are going to kill time before class watching Netflix. Always think: what if the situation were reversed? Consideration goes a long way, and comes back to you when you need it!
Next time I am looking for a seat in CAB, I’ll be keeping these tips in the back of my mind. Since the grand-schemed awkwardness of asking “can I sit here?” likely isn’t going to change in the near future, my suggestion is to consider yourself someone who makes a place to sit for anyone who might need it.
----About the Author
My name is Kiera and I’m a fourth year Biological Sciences student with an English minor, trying to keep life interesting. I like to consider myself a glass-half-full type, and am most at peace spending quality time with loved ones (with a little wine and cheese on hand). When I’m not trying to balance my student group with studying, I am testing out different hobbies, slowly working towards becoming a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
I am drawn to creativity and adventure, which there seems to be an abundance of amongst the U of A’s bright students. I hope to shed light on some of the inspirational individual stories that have resulted from unique campus opportunities, and also hope to encourage other students to tap into one of the many meaningful learning opportunities that are available outside of the classroom. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the U of A’s stories that make our campus community so rich with experience and opportunity.