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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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December 11, 2003
 Student View


Group activity

Katie Norman
Katie Norman

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 through groups.

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 we’re everywhere.


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Next issue: January 8, 2003

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