Sine Qua NonsenseSecrets of the Radio and Television Building

During Orientation Week you were given a tour of the department’s facilities, but official orientation events sponsored by The Powers That Be should never be trusted.

I will start my own guided tour from the first floor. As John Walsh pointed out, it has a circular hallway. Whether you go left or right, you will end up in the same place. This makes me wonder why the Telecom running group jogs outside in the heat and in the snow, instead of just running around in circles inside the air conditioned building.

If you enter from the back entrance, which is now the de facto main entrance due to construction, you will reach the graduate student mailboxes. In order to prepare you for the frustrations of academia, it has been made damn near impossible to open them. The drinking fountain is conveniently located nearby, so you can rehydrate after attempting to discover what goodies await you. These goodies, by the way, will rarely be of interest.

Next up is room 157. This room is part of a network of classrooms and studios known (to me) as the Meeting Places of the Production Secret Society (MPPSS). Within less than a month, new M.S. students will probably know more about this room than most veteran M.A. and Ph.D. students. Next to this room you will find grad student lockers, where you can keep your books. I did not ask for one, because I believe that back pains keep you on your toes.

As you continue walking, you will discover what seems like a mini-museum of broadcasting. Old cameras, microphones, various equipment and awards are on display next to Room 169. At least that is what they want you to think. These are actually recording devices. All conversations students ever had while waiting for the door of Room 169 to unlock are monitored and archived. Want to know what was said by students taking T501 in previous years? Just find a way to Haack into the system (warning: taking Annie’s Philosophy of Inquiry is a prereq for this pun).

The only other thing that is not part of the MPPSS on this floor is the Great Doorway. These are two doors that look like they lead to a talk show studio. In fact, they lead to the arts building. A long, winding corridor will bring you to coffee, food and all your non-academic hopes and dreams. Unless the light is on, disregard the sign saying “Fire: Do Not Enter”. They’re just trying to trick you into staying and doing some work.

Sign over The Great Doorway

Sign over The Great Doorway

On to the second floor. Basically, what you need to know about is the AI office and the administrative area. In the AI office, you will share the company of fellow AIs who have the same office hours as you do. Your students will not show up. This is your opportunity to feel bad about not utilizing your quiet time in this oddly colored room for anything productive. On the other end of the first floor, you will find Tamera’s desk, where answers to your problems might be found. Next to Tamera, you will find Reed, in case you need a refund or a joke.

The third floor should be avoided if you have been delinquent in your duties and do not wish to run into faculty members who saw so much potential in you and now must be so disappointed. The grad lounge and computer lab are on this floor, too. The lounge was officially meant for socializing and the lab for work. Nonconformist students have changed things around. If you go into the lab thinking you’ll get some work done, you are wrong. Your fellow students will talk, make jokes, and turn the whiteboard into an ever-evolving cartoon about grad life. People are rarely in the lounge, though, so you can usually get some work done there.

Whatever you do, do not go to the fourth floor. There is nothing but a weird door there that I have never dared to open. I have always believed there is a maximum security facility on our roof. As I have mentioned before, those big antennas and satellite dishes do not broadcast WTIU and WFIU, but rather collect data for PRISM, but that’s a subject for a whole different column.


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