Throughout history, people have
found themselves forming groups; from tribes in hunter gather
societies, to religious denominations and linguistics groups,
and ultimately to the formation of nations. However groups
may also be a society or just a bunch of friends who share
similar interests. Groups are all around us.
The collectivity of groups act to protect and support its
constituents. While these outcomes may not be the primary
reason that the group is formed, they are likely to be the
reasons why the group stays together. In fact, it is the
lust for these outcomes that drives many people to conform
during the high school years. The acceptance from your peers
is seen by many as the ultimate success and some people
are willing to do anything for the acceptance that is found
Yet acceptance from your peers does not end with high school—
a quick walk around campus will offer plenty proof of that.
As a friend once said to me, “University is bigger
but its smaller.” By this he meant that while there
are more people attending the institution, the number of
people one recognizes while walking from class to class
is lower and one’s social network is likely to exist
of people who have very similar interest to oneself. All
around campus there are pockets of groups who seem to claim
some area of the QE II Library or Smallwood Centre and inhabit
it until their postsecondary days draw to a close.
The most amusing part of this practice is the name that
the inhabits attribute to their hangout. Do the names Fish
Bowl, Fiesta Deck, NUC, and Time Cave remind you of landmarks
on the St. John’s Memorial campus? Well they certainly
are. Add The Atrium, En Caf, Gauntlet, Sixth Floor, and
some other hangouts, and the result is a tour of the social
world of Memorial students.
It is now time to take a tour around campus.
Beginning on the third floor of the library there are two
distinct areas for hanging out. One is dedicated to working
in a quiet environment, the other offers much more flexibility
in terms of the level of noise permitted. The Centre for
Newfoundland Studies offers a quiet room for the study of
its texts. This is the Fish Bowl, a place comprised of mostly
serious students who are there to work. Its name stems from
the huge glass wall that encases the occupants allowing
onlookers to view them much like the mandatory fish tank
in a doctor’s office.
Those looking in on the “fish” enjoy a more
upbeat, social environment. They hang out on the Fiesta
Deck, where all that is missing from a patio party are some
fruity drinks and a BBQ. Whenever I journey up there I feel
a slight reminder of high school with the cell phone rings,
the cracking bubble gum and the cool kids with their laptops.
It’s a good place to meet up with some old high school
friends because a few of those students who had school spirit
are lurking around those groupings of yellow chairs.
Next we journey through the tunnel that links the library
and Smallwood Centre. As one approaches the small museum
of Memorial’s history with the shiny placard boards
under the clock tower, there is a rumble of noise. This
noise is coming from the Time Cave — these students
have taken over the “museum,” making it their
hangout. You’re likely to see at least a few people
bent over the floor watching their buddies play Magic Cards
or some other variant of this type of game.
After climbing the stairs, (or taking the elevator) we arrive
at a two-tier hangout: the NUC and the Gauntlet. The third
floor of the Smallwood Center is divided into two groups:
walkers and watchers. The NUC (also known as the new university
centre) is the cafeteria/food court style sitting area where
at any given time only about 50 per cent of the people are
actually eating — the others are gabbing, studying
or some combination of the two. This is probably the most
popular hangout on campus, forcing those who want to hang
out here between all their classes to hold shifts between
their friends at the table to ensure that they don’t
lose their spot. The Gauntlet is the other half of the third
floor, the quick passageway to the elevators or stairs.
Walking along here has become known as the Gauntlet as during
your two minute walk you are sure to get at least a few
looks from the inhabitants of the NUC, whether these are
good or bad looks remains to be determined.
Past the Gauntlet is the bank of two elevators and the set
of stairs that allow one to reach the sixth floor of the
Smallwood Centre. This area of campus is directly designed
to accommodate socializing on campus and is home to a variety
of clubs, societies and centers. It’s a friendly place,
where society rooms often overflow and members get to interact
with each other.
The next stop on this tour of the Prince Phillip Drive Campus
is the En Caf (engineering cafeteria). A location primarily
dedicated to engineering students but also home to people
from other faculties who try to look inconspicuous. In fact
this home of cheap pizza has also been cited as the place
to play cards on campus and according to one student, the
En Caf is her major.
The last major attraction is the Atrium. The new addition
to the Arts and Administration building that spreads over
four floors and is home to a small food outlet, classrooms,
real plants and many different groups. The big windows,
comfy benches and the low noise level on the higher floors
attract students. In fact it is not unusual to become so
relaxed in these surroundings that one falls asleep.
People cluster all around campus, in the bottom of the Education
Building, the hallway in front of Science 2109, the benches
around the newsstand in the Chemistry-Physics Building,
and at every Roasters on campus. Those who find work on
campus hang out there – from CHMR, to the Centre for
Student Life, to MUNSU and the language labs. People are
relaxing, chatting and generally socializing all around
campus. If there are a few seats there are people to be
found sitting with them. With over 15,000 students, naturally