Sian Griffiths goes over her student, Tamara Bailey's paper before class.
Sian Griffiths, director of the Creative Writing Program, goes over a paper with her student, Tamara Bailey, before class. (Photo by Jin Elle / The Signpost)

New benches have been installed in the hallways of Elizabeth Hall’s  second through fourth floors. The additions, put in March 31, aim to address the lack of seating that often ends with students sitting on the floor while awaiting the start of classes.

According to the dean of the Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts and Humanities, Madonne Miner, professor Judy Elsley of the English Department was a driving force in seeing the project through.

“Like many of the staff, Elsley felt bad that Elizabeth Hall students had no place to sit and wait for classes to begin, except on the floor,” Miner said. Students would also take to leaning up against the walls of the hallways in the absence of seating, the dean said.

Elsley took the problem to the dean’s office, and Miner said her office was more than happy to comply and they got to work.

One hiccup however, which put brakes on the project for quite some time, was a simple matter of bureaucracy.

“In addition to getting funds, we needed to get approval from the fire marshal, who ensures that occupants will have safe egress in case of fires,” Miner said. “It took a remarkably long time to get funding, approval and then to get the Purchasing Department to send out a call for bids.”

Despite the time it took to dot all the i’s and cross every t, Elsley remained persistent. “She sent me countless e­mails over the course of a year and half, urging us to continue this project,” Miner said.

“We purchased as many benches as the fire marshal granted us permission to, and installed them only in locations approved by the fire marshal,” Miner said. They chose benches that were consistent with what Miner called “the simple, straight lines that dominate Elizabeth Hall.”

According to the dean, they decided against upholstered benches because they wear and tear pretty quickly, and there would be no replacement funds when that time came.

Public relations majors Korinne Rasmussen, Gregory Timothy and Emma Corbett are a few students grateful for the 15 new benches. At one point or another they’ve all sat on the floor before class. In fact, the students said that they do it so often it’s become a routine.

Which is why, according to Corbett, it was a refreshing surprise, when, upon her arrival to class 20­ minute­s early last Friday, she noticed one of the benches. Corbett said she was on her way to sit in the hallway near her class, but she sat on one of the benches instead and was grateful for the school’s investment.

Another public relations major, Sarah Jackson, chose to sit on the floor. Jackson patiently sat reading just outside of her classroom.

“I did notice some chairs pop up the other day, but I always sit right outside my classes,” she said. “I guess it’s just a habit of mine.”

Similarly, Jeffrey Loefer, sat on the floor amid a line of students forming in ­between a class hallway.

“I usually sit on the floor and wait for my class to start, which isn’t too bad, but I’m used to sitting on the floor,” Loefer said. “I think a lot of people would much prefer benches along the corridor since not everyone is comfortable sitting on the floor.”

Sian Griffiths, director of the creative writing program at Weber State University, welcomed the benches.

“I think they’re wonderful,” she said. “It’s nice to finally have a place to comfortably sit and chat with my students before class starts.”

Griffiths, gave credit to Miner for seeing the project through.

“I think the seats are beautiful, quite comfortable and well-suited to the architecture of the building,” she said.

English teaching major Tamara Bailey recounted numerous occasions when she took to the floor alongside classmates.

“We would sit on the floor in the hallways, and our feet would stick out,” she said. “I always worried that someday someone might trip and damage the student sitting as well as the passerby.”

Bailey praised the benches.

“They’re fabulous!” she said. “Too bad it’s my last semester. I plan to enjoy full use of them in the upcoming weeks.”

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