In our first week back to school in September, I got out of class late at 12:15 and stopped by Severinghaus. I found Andrew Case by the couches.
“You going to lunch?”
We got to the dining hall before 12:20. Loud chatters, chairs scratching the floor, and the mass and heat of several hundred students greeted us. While waiting for burritos in line, we glanced at the tables, all filled, and the pathways between these tables, which had also been filled with extra chairs.
“Is it just me or are there a lot more people here than usual?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Case affirmed. “Probably because we have a large freshmen class.”
Sitting inside was not an option. Carrying food in both hands and wedging between the gaps of the crowd, we escaped suffocation from the cafeteria’s side door, letting in some chilly, clean air from outside. The tables outside had also been fully occupied.
We, among a group of other Sixth Formers, eventually took seats at the quad’s wide stone walls..
“It’s ridiculous,” a student to the right of me muttered, half-sitting, half-squatting on the short platform. “I’ll never sit here again.”
Despite students’ efforts to find alternate seating in Wilson Hall, Centennial Hall, or near the Café, as of November, A-Lunch in the dining hall continues to be crowded.
Back in September, while I was having my burritos on that stone wall, I came up with a proposal: a Sixth Form lounge for lunch and leisure. Since Haverford can no longer find spare places on its main campus, we should advocate for the lounge’s establishment on a part of the South Roberts Road campus—43 acres of developing property.
Okay. The idea is more feasible than it sounds.
Let’s first address a common accusation against senior lounges: promoting elitism. Like other existing senior privileges on campus (parking, leaving campus during the school day), a senior lounge functions as a reward for a class that had earned the faculty’s trust and an incentive for underclassmen to look up to the good examples of the upperclassmen, as they envision their own future privileges. Thus the accusation of “elitism” doesn’t stand when all classes eventually get to enjoy the “elite” privileges.
A senior lounge also alleviates Sixth Formers’ high-stress levels induced by the double pressures of school work and college application. Senior lounges have been a constructive space for work and recreation (and lunch) in many public and private high schools around the nation. The lounge would serve as a relief for Sixth Formers to maintain their work-life balance in the midst of much chaos, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.
A potential senior lounge could take many forms, depending on the financial, logistical feasibility and the preference of students. At some schools, the senior lounge is just a private dining room with extra chairs and tables. At other schools, it is decorated with pleather couches, foosball, and pool tables. If pragmatism allows, many Sixth Formers would prefer a fancy room in the grand mansion of 452 South Roberts Road.
As I was thinking about all these great senior lounge proposals, eating my burrito, a group of kindergarteners passed by us. There’s this one kid at the back; he sneered at our roll of disgraced seniors sitting on the stone edgings.
“Bruh,” Case said. “Did that kindergartner just tease us?”
Okay. I thought. The senior lounge can wait. Tomorrow, I have to get to the dining hall before 12:15.