McCabe second, the newest and hottest offering in the field of library study spaces, has quickly risen through the ranks to become the darling of most every student at the college. Even in a crowded field, facing tough competition from the social Cornell first and the visually stunning Underhill, the well-lit and expertly designed McCabe second stands out as a first-rate choice.
But coming back from spring break, regular guests of McCabe second were unnerved to discover that a section of the floor’s seating area was cordoned off with caution tape, in a scene somewhere between a CSI episode and an Area 51 investigation.
The alluringly mysterious auras of the dramatic scene have swirled around the minds of the student body, and with time have congealed into theories regarding the root cause of the quarantine and its possible further implications.
Some students immediately associated the quarantine with a biohazardous event. “I’m pretty sure someone here has mumps,” said Kiaan Rooney ’22. “Actually never mind, Alice Holland sent out that false alarm email a few days ago.” Rooney added, “Well still I guess hand, foot, & mouth disease is always an issue, maybe it can be transmitted via furniture as well?”
“This is a natural outcropping of the Cornellification of the college,” said Katy Knowles ’21. “People go to Cornell to socialize, not to study. Then they brought Cornell to McCabe when they redesigned, and now they had to shut down part of the redesigned floor because people were being too loud and it was distracting to the rest of us,” explained Knowles. “I’m glad they did it, because it has been impossible to work here recently, but I would rather they just have not redesigned McCabe in the first place. We already have one Cornell, we don’t need more of them.”
Tommie Wright ’19 has always had a great affinity for the new seats, and yet strangely enough he actually strongly supports the school’s choice to make them inaccessible to students. “These chairs are just too nice. Their craftsmanship is superb, the way the textured fabric seamlessly cascades over the curves of the arm rests is exquisite. It would be a terrible fate if these chairs would end up soiled by Sharples takeout and nasty body oils.” Wright continued, adding, “We don’t deserve these chairs. They are too good for us and we are not worthy of them. They belong in a museum, not in this perverse exhibitionist display for them to be touched and violated by anyone who comes by.”
“It’s basic economics,” said economics major Natasha Corx ’22. “It’s supply and demand. The first thing you learn in Intro to Econ.” Corx explained, “Clearly the demand for these chairs was not high enough. But the college already invested money in them, they’re brand new, and they want them to be more popular so that it looks like a more worthwhile purchase. So by decreasing the supply of chairs available, the demand for the rest of the chairs will increase, and the college can justify this expense more easily.”
Sociology major Ismail Murillo ’19 believes that the containment area might have something to do with a class he is in this semester. “My sociology class is all about how people interact with their surroundings, how they react when they encounter the unexpected, how being unable to continue with your routine makes you aware of a routine that you might not even have been consciously aware of in the first place.” He explained, “so this is probably a project that someone from class is doing right now, a public installation to study how students will interact with this change.”
“These chairs are just so nice that people would fight over who got to sit in them” said Clarice Lindsay ’20. “They were really a flashpoint for conflict, they brought out the absolute worst in people — envy, greed, wrath, pretty much all the sins you can think of,” she added. “That’s just not the kind of thing that contributes to building a healthy and vibrant school community. We’re better off without them.”
Even though the area is currently surrounded by caution tape, students can still reserve it through the online Swat Central portal if they wish to host events there. “It’s a fairly coveted space, with plenty of bright lights and a good central location on campus,” said Director of Events Management Susan Eagar. Students wishing to reserve the space can visit 25live.collegenet.com/swarthmore to see upcoming events in the cordoned off area, and to reserve it for future events of their own.