By Megan Lockhart | Reporter
Making the daily walk to my classes, the campus is dotted with giant white tents as a reminder of the current times we live in. However, each time I pass by them, I always find them eerily empty. The tents on campus are a great way to create more space for social distancing, but they should have been better promoted and advertised to students.
Speaking from personal experience, I didn’t know the use of the tents for most of the semester. I assumed we were not allowed to enter. It wasn’t until recently, while speaking with a friend, that I learned they were free for student use. How could I have not known this? Considering their mostly vacant states, I’m clearly not the only one who is uninformed.
I rummaged through my inbox, keyword-searching “tents” trying to find all the announcements I had missed. I found one from President Livingstone back in August detailing the “new campus structures” of “more than 43,000 square feet of usable space for our students with the installation of 16 premium, fully equipped tent structures.”
In her email, the president explained what each tent was designated for on campus and the amenities they offered.
“Each tent location serves a unique purpose in helping us provide a successful and safe fall semester, with the Fountain Mall tents primarily dedicated to our students and allowing ample space for studying and other academic pursuits. The dining hall and BANC locations provide overflow dining opportunities, with dedicated cleaning crews assigned to each tent to ensure a clean and safe environment,” Livingstone said in her email from Aug. 4.
The president also stated that students, faculty and student organizations are able to reserve tent space to hold events by submitting an online form through Baylor Institutional Events.
While I acknowledge that the information was distributed to students at the start of the semester, it wasn’t nearly enough advertisement. One or two emails are not adequate in order to get students to divert from their routines and use the structures. The university spent a costly sum of money to allow for a safer and more spacious environment equipped with air conditioning and WiFi. It is almost sad to see these tents sit empty on the grass. And yet aside from a few emails in August, I have seldom heard about them since.
I can speak for many when I say that unless information is consistently presented to me, I am not likely to go out of my way and seek it for myself. I would much rather stick to what is comfortable. I think this applies to this situation. Students are not likely to divert from studying at Moody Library or eating in the dining halls unless other options are readily promoted. Students needed more emails throughout the semester, or even an event held in one of the tents so that they became more familiar.
I understand that you cannot force students to use the tents, but at least advertise the space more. I speak from my own ignorance when I say that I wish they had been more readily promoted. There are some tents designated for specific dining halls such as the Penland Crossroads and 1845 at Memorial. However others, such as one on Fountain Mall, are for academic purposes.
So next time you pass by a tent on campus and find it completely vacant, just know that entire space is yours for the taking.