Y2 Reflection: Leaving Familiar Spaces

Isaiah Back-Gaal, ’15

No room in BHSEC has only one purpose. No space has only one story.

The auditorium is a gymnasium, a performance space, and a lecture hall. BHSEC students first hear about academic integrity there, and give their final concerts there. The library is an enclave of quiet studying and furtive whispering, but it can also be a raucous room, a place to meet up with friends who have first period free. Then there’s Dr. Freund’s room, a classroom and a student hangout, whiteboard on one wall, Christmas lights and tea on the other.

Four years ago, the Student Activities Center was an upperclassmen student lounge. Envious freshmen would peer in at the ping-pong playing Y1s and Y2s. Then it was turned into the Student Activities Center, a place to organize clubs and other student enterprises. Today a sign on the door calls it the Bardvark Hall of Student Activities, but students still affectionately call it the SAC.

It takes a bit of reflection to remember how small the 525 East Houston Street building really is. Five small floors, a tiny gym and cafeteria, offices that offer little privacy to the professors. No teacher (except maybe Dr. Cho) has his or her own classroom; it often feels as though classes are competing for space. And yet, despite the reality of the spatial limitations of the building, BHSEC has flourished.

BHSEC students are keenly aware of and often make fun of our small building. Nevertheless, we always manage to make room for ourselves, in classrooms, in hallways, in teachers’ offices. Maneuvering BHSEC on a daily basis is its own creative process. You cannot just view your seminar classroom as a seminar classroom––it is also your lunchroom, your health classroom, a place to meet with teachers, a place to take a nap.

BHSEC teaches you how to use the space around you, however limited it may first appear. It teaches you how to make space for your voice to be heard, whether it is in the classroom, in Dean’s Hour lectures, or in flyers on the walls of the building.  As graduating Year 2s, we are leaving an ever-evolving mosaic of rooms and hallways, a testament to students’ thoughts, desires, needs, and hard work. And although we are leaving this living space, we will take with us the confidence to shape whatever spaces we are presented with in the years to come.

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