In this second installment of lecture hall reviews, Bwog crawls into the depths of the aptly named Mathematics (the building, not the subject …well also the subject too). With glimmers of hope and high school idealization of college, 207 Math has promise. But can it hold up to that?
The approach to Math (from interior campus, not the 117th Broadway gates backroad) makes you feel so collegiate. Strolling across campus and through this thoroughly green area — so many trees! — obliviates any notion of being in the City. No, you are not in New York: you are on your college campus. The straight path through a lawn directly to the building reminds you of every college-set film you’ve ever seen. It fills you with a sense of importance and potential.
Once inside the building, you take a moment to chuckle at Columbia and its love for horizontal sameness: of course room 207 is in the basement. You think about how marvelous it is that the floors are numbered thusly. A brush past vending machines and a water fountain and you pace your steps to open that heavy door leading into 207. The pale pink beige is relaxing, but the rest of the room is not.
You are first thrown by the rows and rows of identical brown desks secured onto the plastic-y floor. For what seems to be a small room, there are countless chairs. You take care picking a seat, avoiding the left aisle lefty seats, and realize there is no rise in these rows of desk-chairs. They are all completely level, with a step up near the back rows. The professor is also on equal footing (damn Columbia’s love for horizontal sameness), which means that if you end up in the middle in a crowded room, you’ll never see her.
Math 207 is a cage. The ceilings are short and the double doors to enter and exit are heavy and loudly click shut. Dirty windows at the back of the room are heavily grated. You choose to sit in the first row of the one-step-up section. From your seat so close to the windows, you can hear people walking by on Broadway. You are out of your dreamy middle-of-nowhere collegiate world, putting the “in the City of New York” back into “Columbia University in the City of New York.” One-step-up, you are directly in your teacher’s line of vision. No texting now. Since the class isn’t full (how could it be? There are 1,000,000 seats in the room and the teacher puts slides online) you take up two seats: one for yourself and your notebook and one for your jacket, scarf, bag, and coffee. At least you have enough room for all of that.
The room is old. It’s dirty. There’s dust all over the place and every so often you glimpse one of those tiny flat bugs rushing by. Someone has carved their initials into the desk and your professor can’t figure out how to make the projector screen go up so she can write examples on the board. At least the chalkboards slide up and down with ease. Then, your eyes land on something quiet and glittery that you’d previously missed: a brown upright piano in the front right corner. They keyboard cover is closed but you spend the rest of the class trying to figure out how to “accidentally” hit a key. You just want to know if it’s still in tune. Finally class ends and you shuffle out to the right to “ask your teacher a question.” As you approach the piano, your heart sinks: the keyboard cover is locked.
Spelunking via Wikimedia Commons