Underrepresented majors are deserving of equally inclusive spaces

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COURTESY PHOTO/WM.EDU

This semester, I have back-to-back afternoon classes in Jones Hall and Tucker Hall Tuesdays and Thursdays. Although it fits in poorly with my weekly schedule, Tucker’s architectural beauty persuaded me to take an English course because I wanted to experience the hall’s aesthetic appeal firsthand. I adore having a class in Tucker, but lately, my 10 minute sprints have grown remarkably bitter. The vastly divergent facades of Tucker and other academic buildings around campus are increasingly difficult to ignore, and they cast severe doubt on the College of William and Mary’s commitment to students of all academic disciplines.

Tucker is the epitome of sleek, modern design. The classrooms are clean and well-manicured. The hall’s multiple glass windows provide sweeping panoramas of Old Campus and the Sunken Garden, and its picturesque staircases could be easily mistaken for fixtures of an urban art museum. Even more impressive is Tucker’s standing as one of the most inclusive academic buildings at the College; the hall boasts several all-gender restrooms, all of which are exquisitely designed.

If you can ever bring yourself to leave Tucker, walk 10 minutes towards New Campus and you’ll eventually stumble upon Jones Hall, home to my afternoon multivariable calculus class. Jones hosts the College’s mathematics department, and more closely resembles a drab prison than an American academic building. It features awkward rectangular panes that can only be charitably described as “windows,” and their underwhelming views of Morton leave much to be desired. The hall’s staircases are worn and tattered, and the cream-speckled hallways are an austere labyrinth. After two semesters of math courses in Jones, locating a gender-inclusive restroom continues to be an impossible task.

The architectural and aesthetic differences are so stark that I find it hard to believe that Jones and Tucker belong to the same university. I am sure that Jones is on the College’s refurbishment agenda, and I know that eventually math students will have a new place on campus to call their own. But as an aspiring math major, I am frustrated by the College’s prioritization of certain academic subjects with regards to facility renovation.

I recognize that mathematics is not the Tribe’s foremost academic discipline, and that our reputation as a liberal arts college necessitates a focus on the social sciences and humanities. However, it seems unfair that our university has invested so heavily in developing the facilities of some majors while neglecting the interests of others. There must be a more equitable distribution of refurbishment.

Tucker provides English majors with the opportunity to practice and hone their skills in a warm, comfortable environment, and I assume the hall’s renovations improved the scholastic pursuits of English majors significantly. However, all disciplines are deserving of similar development. The College must demonstrate a clear and immediate intention to renovate academic buildings for under-prioritized and underrepresented majors at the College. At the very least, the College ought to add a few all-gender restrooms in Jones; math students are no less deserving of inclusivity than their peers in the humanities.

Email Ethan Brown at [email protected]