Monday, November 27, 2006

Unit 3

Maxx McDonald
Eng101 unit 3

The Secret Spot

Everyday there is a constant rush and chatter of people around the Arizona State University campus. With so many students attending, one could only expect to see a crowd wherever they go. The Memorial Union is no exception. There are always tons of students pouring in and out of the doors and going to numerous places throughout the MU, and lunch time is probably the peak of its activity. There are a couple dozen places to eat at inside the MU, and most of the time the line for any of them is long. However, the crowded lines are the least of my worries. The seating capacity at the MU is not only less than needed, but the amount of noise, activity, and commotion that goes on inside creates a negative and uncomfortable eating experience. With so much going on in the busy schedules of ASU students, a nice calm place to eat where seating is abundant should be mandatory. The eating environment in the MU needs to be changed because there are too many students wanting to eat there, and too little room to accommodate them.
When I eat lunch I like to enjoy my meal, eat slowly, and have a nice conversation with a friend or my girlfriend. Those three things should not be too hard to ask for but when eating at the Memorial Union that hope is totally crushed. The noise factor alone makes me not be able to hear my own thoughts, let alone listen to some one else. The constant hovering of other students hunting for a seating place is not too pleasurable as well. Arizona State University has over 60,000 students that are enrolled, the second most in the country. With that many students there is no wonder why a focal point of campus (MU) is so popular and alive. The MU has the largest selection of food restaurants on campus. Thousands of students flock through the complex every day leaving no room for relaxation or rest. This amount of activity is rightfully unavoidable and not much of a problem for students going about their business and purchasing food. However, it is a problem when it comes to consuming the food purchased and I believe that something needs to be done about it. To me, these very uncomfortable eating environments are unacceptable and are in great need of change to ensure the happiness of many students. These factors have lead me to think outside the box, and go beyond the convenient walk of fifty paces to get to a lunch table.
There is a small walkway just west of the Memorial Union that connects the administration buildings (A and B) to the student services building (SS). This place is magical, and has a calm and soothing feeling to it. The sidewalk starts at the MU fountain and leads straight to the student services building. It splits in the middle of the administration buildings, making a triangular patch of grass, and reconnects right in front of the SS building. There are trees all around the sidewalk and they create much needed shade from the Arizona sun. The vegetation all around gives the feel of a small forest. It seems as if there is always the soft chatter of birds, unnoticeable unless you want to, that adds to the organic experience. Pick-nick tables and benches are scattered around the perimeter, 20 in all, but none are too close together. The crowd that usually resides there is either reading, studying, relaxing, or chatting quietly with a friend. The noise level is dictated by the surroundings and there is never a time when someone is being rude and obnoxious. My girlfriend, Kayla Wallace, and I discovered this place simply by taking a walk around campus.

“It is not hard to find but it is enough out of the way that not to many people really know about it or visit it regularly” Wallace said in an interview I had with her.

“The positive and quiet environment it provides is worth walking an extra hundred yards from the MU to eat there. When we eat lunch at the MU we always take it to go.”

Although there are many tables and benches outside the south entrance of the MU that are good for sitting if you want to get some fresh air, they are always as noisy as the inside. The walkway I have referred to, or the “secret spot” as I call it, is always the destination for my girlfriend and I when we pick up something to eat from the MU. When I am at the secret spot I feel relaxed, collected, and free. There is no commotion, no pressure to eat fast so someone else can sit down, and best of all no crowd to make things hectic. When we walk over to the spot, we always know that there is going to be a seat with our name on it. There is no waiting for other people and it really makes you feel like you are in a different place. The best activity for lunch in our mind is to bring a large array of little snacks, lay them all out using the full table space, and slowly enjoy each other’s company as well as our meal. Other frequent visitors can surely share the same feelings towards the spot, and one student in particular most surely does. Ryan Riedy, a regular at the secret spot, concurs with my statement in an brief interview I had with him.

“I come to this spot all the time to read my novels. Sometimes it is hard to find a place that consistently gives a peaceful and quiet environment, other than the library, but no matter what time of day I can always rely on coming here to relax and get some reading done.”

The overall consensus about the secret spot, in my findings, is a positive one. It would be hard to believe that even people, who on most occasions like crowds of socialization, would not appreciate the beauty and calmness the spot provides. The feeling is one that you might receive in the wilderness or a garden, let alone at the ASU Tempe campus. To me this environment is so great that I would be willing to sacrifice the limited knowledge of the secret spot and let all the students of ASU experience the same wonder. At the same time, the argument could be made that there is nothing wrong with eating in a large crowd and that is common among college campuses to have a crowded central food distribution center.
What is the big deal of having to wait for a seat? Being surrounded by people is what the college experience is about. Socializing and meeting new people are often goals of some college students. It is possible that there could be many people that enjoy eating around a large crowd and having a lot of chatter on all sides. It would be wrong to think that everyone in the world wants to sit in a quiet place all the time and be secluded from people. Traditionally, lunch time is the best break in the day for any student, in any grade. It is time to replenish the body with well needed vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates as well as time to talk with friends and not think about school. However, these activities can almost certainly only be enjoyable in comfortable conditions. To me, the Memorial Union is anything but comfortable and something needs to be done about it.
One could think, or maybe expect, that a reasonable proposal would be to expand the confinement of the MU or even build an alternate building in which food can be purchased. A feat of that nature would easily cost millions of dollars and would most definitely decrease the problem of the crowded eating space, in turn making many students satisfied. However, I am not like many students. I propose that the ASU administration, or a related body of management, should market and advertise alternate culinary destinations and/or highlight the existing spots around campus, in the close vicinity of the MU, that are favorable alternates to eating inside. Any type of mainstream ASU sponsored media that would most likely be read by ASU students would help a great deal in spreading the news. This proposal could potentially extremely inexpensive, if not free. The Web Devil, ASU’s newspaper, could certainly reserve a spot for an article on this topic at no costs. Another idea would be to post flyers in and outside of the MU containing information about prime options for places to eat within a quarter mile perimeter, which would also be potentially very cheap. Some might not wish to walk that far just to eat lunch, but there are surely enough that would go that distance to have comfortable eating experience. In personally doing field research, I discovered three existing spots (not including the secret spot) equipped with enough room to fit over 100 students at the same time. These three spots are conveniently located no more than 200 yards away from the perimeter of the MU and are perfect examples of places to go in order to get away from the crowd. Being so close, there is no reason in the world for students to not utilize this space and help better the MU.
If my proposal is not accepted, or even considered for that matter, it will not matter to me the slightest. The MU will stay the same and no one will be hurt nor privileged by the current situation. The purpose of this proposal was to benefit students and faculty of Arizona State University that are taking or teaching classes at the Tempe Campus. I am already fortunate enough to be one of the few that utilize my secret spot almost everyday, and that in itself is rewarding enough. The only loss will come at the expense of the people who eat lunch inside the MU day after day, wishing that the crowd will pass, but never does. This proposal will not only be beneficial to everyone at ASU, but also to ASU as a campus. There is no need to have one place on campus be so busy when there are so many others that can and should be used. ASU is a large campus and I believe that it should be in full function, with not a spot empty.

1 comment:

MadMaxx said...

This was the only paper we wrote this term where we used the "Q-H-Q" format to brainstorm for our paper and i found it very helpful. It was easy because having the attitude of completing it as an assignment extracted my thoughts in a way i would not have if i did not use that strategy. I thought this paper was not very easy to complete. The guidelines created a difficult choice to make when choosing a topic. I was also unclear on what needed to be established and achieved in the paper. Writing wise, i thought i did well and made a good arguement. I was unclear on what sources to use in this paper and how to use them. Overall i think i did well considering what the possibilities were under a shorter deadline than the other papers. Next paper i write i will work on understanding the assignment completely and working with my teacher better for asking questions.