First-year speculations regarding how a normal year at Vassar looks

Above is what a first year entirely unaware of pre-COVID Vassar life imagines it is like to navigate the Deece during a normal semester. They believe the Deece tables were used to form an obstacle course for students to run through after finishing meals. Courtesy of My Photo Journeys/Flickr.

I anticipate that the Deece is just as terrifying in a normal year as it is now. I’m not quite sure what the wooden obstructions throughout the building are for, although I assume that they used to be assembled into an obstacle course for students to run through after finishing meals. I will say that I am confused as to why the Retreat does not have similar wooden obstacle course fragments throughout the dining area. I suspect that this is because students used to enjoy sitting criss-cross applesauce on the tile floor while eating their meals, as a change of pace from conventional seating arrangements. Alas, the pandemic has taken away our simple pleasures in life. 

One of the only places where I seem to be able to eat in a chair is underneath the various tents around campus. I assume that these tents were introduced a few years ago as a pesticide-free solution to killing the invasive weeds in patches of grass. This was a good way to avoid poisoning the fish in Sunset Lake with toxic runoff, although the grass unfortunately had to die as collateral. Luckily, classes have been moved to these tents, so at the very least there is life beneath them for five to six hours a day. 

As far as indoor classes are concerned, I assume that seating arrangements in lecture halls were the same last year as they are now. I can’t imagine waltzing into a classroom on the first day and taking a seat inches away from a stranger. This seems like a wildly intimate thing to do in an academic setting. Even in a normal year, I only remember such physical proximity being reserved for friends and close acquaintances. 

Speaking of wildly intimate settings, I am sure that in the past, students took many liberties when choosing which stall, sink or shower to use in the morning. Maybe some students opted to use a different combination of the three every day of the week. Perhaps other, more pragmatic students stuck to one combination, only changing things up on weekends. Such spontaneity must have felt exhilarating. The only issue with this kind of a system is the decreased accountability when it comes to balls of hair. Perhaps in the future we should keep the bathroom spreadsheet as a means of narrowing down our search for hairball culprits. 

Regardless of these changes, there is one aspect of the Vassar first-year experience that I am confident has not changed regardless of COVID-19: even without an active obstacle course made of tables running throughout the establishment, the Deece still feels nearly impossible to navigate. 

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