Student Experience Blog

The Politics of Seating

The other day, I got a text from a school acquaintance asking after my fall schedule. I replied, and the inquirer made the discovery I think she wanted to find, namely that she and I would likely be in the same literature seminar. She was enthusiastic about the commonality because I think she had been worried about where to sit. Or more accurately, who to sit with.

And that’s a question that even the most confident of us has to answer anew at the beginning of each semester: Where do I sit? Who do I sit with? It’s especially daunting if you’re headed into a class that’s in a subject you’re unfamiliar with, or one that will require a lot of partner work. I like to think that I’m beyond too much anxiety about seating arrangements, but in truth, a good hard science class with a lot of partner work would send me straight into reconnaissance mode for someone to latch onto. My acquaintance’s search for anchors in her first upper division literature seminar made me think about the quirks of picking a seat in college.

I tried and tried to find rhyme or reason, or at least consistency, in the locations that I’ve chosen to sit over the last two years, but I can’t find any. Sometimes I’m in the front row, sometimes the back. Sometimes I’ll sit with a contingent of fellow KKGs, and sometimes I’ll sit in the midst of people I only know by sight. The only consistent thing about my choices has been that I usually stick to them. We all do, really.

It’s a funny phenomenon that as kids, most of us protest against seating arrangements and long for the chance to seat ourselves. But in college, it seems that we establish seating arrangements all by ourselves and adhere to them voluntarily all semester long. One of my professors likes to compare us to cows in their stalls. The odd deviation will upset the whole order, and start a class off with a tint of disorder.

So wherever you may choose to sit this year, and for whatever reason, pick wisely because you might be keeping that seat for a long time.

From Boise,

Megan Mizuta

Megan is a junior Literature in English major from Boise, Idaho.