Sunday, September 3, 2006

Hallway sprawl, down and out

When I began teaching, students tended to stand in the hallway, close to the wall, in the few minutes before entering a newly-emptied classroom. At some point they began to move downward, sitting with legs crossed, still close to the wall. Then they began to move outward, sitting with legs extended toward the middle of the hallway. Now when I walk to class there's often only a small channel in the middle of the hallway for foot traffic, barely enough room for two people to walk past each other without one having to yield. Students are sitting, legs out, on both sides of the hallway, even right up next to the men's-room door.

Now everything is again moving downward: I notice more and more students lying on their backs while waiting to enter classrooms. Students who lie down keep themselves parallel to the walls — they thus claim less of the space that can be used for walking but more of the space that their peers might have used for sitting (or even standing). And just this past Friday I noticed a new variation — someone lying in the hallway on his side, reading a book, head propped up by an arm.

I don't understand hallway sprawl. It seems to be partly about living large and privatizing public space, partly about refusing to grow "up." Nobody knows you when you're down and out.

Have profs or students elsewhere noticed hallway sprawl?

comments: 1

JuliaR said...

I have never seen students lying in hallways -- sitting, yes. Maybe it has to do with something becoming socially acceptable in one location/campus? One "cool" student did it and then others copied it and it became socially acceptable. Maybe.