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March 6, 2003, Gazette

An underground world on top

Katie Norman
The sixth floor – to some it’s the closest thing to home on campus, while others have no idea such a place exists. To elaborate, this infamous sixth floor refers to the top floor of the Smallwood Centre where many clubs, societies and centres are located. Why is it that some people naturally gravitate to such an environment, while others study here at Memorial for four or five years and never even know it exists?

As a frequenter of this hodgepodge of old couches, slow computers and friendly faces, I am a little biased in citing the benefits of such a place. It is my safe haven and, as someone who thrives on the familiar, this provides the recommended daily dosage. There is something nice about having your own space on campus where you can drop your coat, microwave something without having to wait in a long lineup and waste some time before your next class. Well, okay, maybe a six-foot by six-foot room you share with 20 others isn’t exactly your own space, but you catch my drift.

On the sixth floor it can sometimes seem like an episode of Cheers: “Where everybody knows your name.” It wasn’t always this way though, at first it was daunting. That first day I climbed the stairs, Fruitopia in hand, to find the room that all my fellow society members had been speaking of. This was the beginning of January and after spending meetings and a few mixers with these folk I decided it was time to take my involvement to the next level. Yes, I was to become a room rat.

Since that fated decision I have clocked close to a hundred hours in that room … wait now, that’s a lot of time!

Now to an outsider this may seem excessive. One might ask what one occupies oneself with on this sixth floor. This is the type of question that garners many responses. Recent occupations include; colouring flags to go along with all the countries in the United Nations, trading valentines, researching the most popular names in America … actually it is somewhat of a time warp back into the elementary school days. Yet there are also times when debates break out over the war in Iraq, whether Tiger Woods had an unfair advantage as a child and, yes, even talks over how MUNSU has screwed up this week.

It is not just from nine to five that people can be found on the sixth floor. In the evenings, these rooms provide a quiet study space for society members, especially during finals when the silent study room at the QE II fills up. They also provide a quick and easy place to hold meetings and discuss society-related events. If fact, there are even urban legends of people living on the sixth floor until their apartment becomes available at the beginning of the term.

The sixth floor is not only a place to get to know your own society members better but also a place to learn more about other societies and meet different people. It’s kind of like the clubs and societies fair, minus the poster boards and pamphlets. Not only do you meet new people but you also get to share information on the effective running of a club, society or centre. The most recent sharing going on has been dealing with tips on how to run an effective bake sale.

If anyone is curious about life on the sixth floor, I recommend you just come on up. Wander around, there’s sure to be someone introduce themselves to you. The campus may be covered in clubs, societies and centres’ posters but to see what’s it’s really like beyond the slogans hop on the elevator and push six, or for those who are exercise inclined take the stairs.

The sixth floor has become my niche. For some people it’s the third floor of the library, the tunnel between the UC and library, or the food court. For me it’s the sixth floor. While it is true that in university you break away from the cliques and the in-crowds dominating high schools, people naturally want to distinguish themselves into groups. The sixth floor facilitates this.

As someone who always wanted to join a sorority, I can safely say that a society is the next best thing. At the beginning of every semester I’ll definitely be signing the ratification forms in order to keep a society room. So there you have it – an underground world going on up above you.