Not-So-Musical Chairs: The Usdan Divide

Usdan dining center seems to foster a divide by the mere presence of two distinct seating areas that each attract a different set of students. This post attempts to bring students from each side together to hear their reflections on the loud/quiet side divide (inspired by this NY Times article). Photographed below, students who prefer to sit on the loud side are on the left; quiet side students on the right.

Geneva Jonathan ‘15, Loud Side:

I’ve sat on the quiet side before and it’s a better environment to actually have conversation. Whereas the loud side — it’s just everything is a little bit louder… As far as campus politics go, stereotypically athletes sit on the loud side. Athletes might have less to say in a political argument stereotypically. Whereas on the quiet side the intellectuals, or that’s what it’s seen as, sit on that side, and are more apt to a good conversation.

Anne Leonardo ’17, Quiet Side:

The biggest divide I see between the two sides is noise level. It actually is quieter and louder. But also, definitely more athletes sit on the loud side. The way I think it affects campus politics — I think there are sort of two sides to the campus: there’s one side I see all the time and it’s people on the quiet side. And there are the people on the loud side that I never see. So I think there may be different issues for the different groups — each groups isn’t aware of the other group’s issues.

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Lizzie Shackney ’17, Loud Side:

A lot of athletes sit on the loud side, maybe because it’s called the loud side it’s a little more energized… I think it reinforces stereotypes of the loud side and the quiet side. Like who’s going to sit where? And what type of person sits where? I jump around, depends on the day. But I also have an idea of who I’m going to see when I sit on either side. So it kind of depends on who I feel like running into.

Tess Altman ’17, Quiet Side:

The loud side/quiet side division does reinforce the jock/non-jock division at Wesleyan because there are many sports teams that often go to team dinners on the loud side. I often sit on the quiet side but if there’s not enough room I will go to the loud side and that is okay. I mostly think that lots of people end up sitting on the same side because their friends get in the habit of sitting on one side so if I go get food I want to know that all my friends are on this side and not on that side. So I think it also can be reinforced by that.

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Mary Diaz ‘14, Loud Side:

I think structurally Usdan was made terribly. It purposely has two sides and that adds on to [the division]. I think if we had one clear side for everyone that could have helped… I don’t know if it really intensely affects [campus politics], but it definitely doesn’t promote the coexistence within the dining sphere… In other social spaces it might be easier, let’s say a party or something, both types of people go together. In the dining sense, not really, and I think it causes that sort of disconnection.

Max Owen-Dunow ‘15, Quiet Side:

It really exacerbates some of the political issues we have on campus. Just in that it reflects a division that is along the lines of a lot of current debates on campus, mainly with fraternities and co-education with fraternities and so on and so forth. So I think it certainty has detrimental effects just in the way in which different groups on campus aren’t mingling, aren’t inhabiting in the same spaces. I think that does have harmful implications for what discourse exists. I think as a campus community it’s always good for us to examine ways in which we can try to bridge the gaps between conflicting sides of an issue.

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Andrew McCloskey ‘15, Loud Side:

It’s just different people sit on different sides. I mean I’ll sit over there when I have a group of people that I’m sitting with over there. But I tend to sit on this side because my friends generally sit on this side. I don’t think it has to do with the fact that they play music over here and they don’t play music over there. We just tend to sit on this side as opposed to the quiet side.

Dylan Nelson ‘15, Quiet Side:

The only reason I don’t sit over there is I can’t hear people talking. It’s the only real reason. I mean you could say that. [It doesn’t] really necessarily affect politics at all. People just kind of sit here and I sit over there. I sit over there on occasion. I don’t think it’s necessarily a political vibe as such.

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Amanda Distler ‘15, Loud Side:

I think that the divide is more in everyone’s head and we’ve kind of just stuck with it because it’s a way to feel to comfortable with where you’re going every day for lunch because it can be scary to walk into a random room of people. And it’s easy to find people you know. But I think it’s very much in people’s heads. I sit on both sides. I’m an athlete but I feel comfortable on both. As soon as you cross the lines, you realize it’s not that much of a difference. I think that it reproduces the idea of like techies versus athletes. But I think it’s very much a blurred line in reality.

Gabe Gordon ‘15, Quiet Side:

I came from a high school that was a lot more racially diverse than Wesleyan is and there was constantly dialogue about our school cafeteria and lunch time and how self segregation would occur naturally between different groups. So it was interesting to see that at Wesleyan in a less identifiable way. It’s kind of hard to look around and see exactly what separates these two sides. I think we pride ourselves on the fact that all these different worlds exist at Wesleyan. But at the same time, we go to what we are comfortable with in our routine and sometimes it’s hard to face the fact that we’re naturally more comfortable around people who are similar to us in some self-identifiable way… I think the fact that projects like this are happening, it’s something that we’re conscious of. It’s like something we acknowledge could be a problem in some ways. It’s something to think about.

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