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Please Put the Tables Back

During my time as a Cobber, I have allowed most changes made to furniture arrangements and eating implements in Anderson Commons to pass me by with little comment. Perhaps I grumbled at first when they began to replace the angular black bowls with the round white bowls last year, and perhaps I was momentarily confused when they replaced the old, sort-of-octagonal glasses with the tall, sleek, circular ones we have now. And I recall my friends and I wondering bemusedly whether the carpet in Anderson was replaced between our freshman and sophomore years. But this year there has been one change made in the Commons that simply seems wrong to me, and I feel compelled to speak out in (polite) protest.

For as long as I have been enrolled at Concordia the tall, circular, four-person tables (hereafter simply referred to as “the tall tables”) in Anderson have always been situated, for the most part, along the back wall of the Commons, looking out the windows toward the library and Brown Hall and the bookstore. This was an ideal place for them, a profoundly logical place. The tall tables are typically favored by solitary eaters, and, although there is certainly nothing wrong with eating alone, I am sure I cannot be the only person to appreciate the easy distraction of looking out the window when doing so. Students eating at the tall tables also give off an aura of dynamic productivity; the tall tables are where one is most likely to observe someone with one hand on a MacBook keyboard and the other poised over an “Another Grilled Cheese Sandwich,” working diligently through lunch between classes.

With this academic year, however, the majority of the tall tables have been relocated to run in a line across the front of the Commons. Students filing into Anderson from the card-swiping area actually have to walk in between the tall tables to find seats in regions of the cafeteria. What this means is that students eating alone or even in smaller groups at the tall tables are now not only dining under conditions that are weirdly stigmatized, but they are also forced to be a physical obstacle for other Cobbers on their way to a delicious meal. One can argue that any students who are made genuinely uncomfortable by the thought of sitting alone in the repositioned tall tables can easily sit elsewhere, but this presents the same conundrum it always has: sitting alone at, say, a long table, one still feels in the way of any large groups who might want to use the space, especially during busy Tuesday to Thursday lunch periods when available seating is sparse. And for those students mentioned above who maybe even sit alone at a tall table by choice in order to get some work done, the new position of the tables presents the unwelcome, concentration-breaking distraction of other people continually filing past within inches of their space.

This criticism of our otherwise pretty wonderful Dining Services department might seem like unnecessary nitpicking on my part, but I know many other students share my concern, and I speak on behalf of them as well.

Granted, most things have reasonable explanations, so perhaps this does too. I have heard from an acquaintance of mine that the reason Dining Services (or Facilities – whomever is in charge of the furniture) rearranges the tables in Anderson is to provide even wear across the whole carpet. If that is the case, I understand and am sympathetic to their concern, but I wish there were another way for them to do so.

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