A Tale of Two Science Halls

New CSUSM students have a hard time finding the right Science Hall at first.


Granted, being lost appears to be more of a familiarity issue more than anything else at first glance. New students are  making mistakes as to where they and their classes are and learning from those mistakes as they get accustomed to their new campus, which is understandable. 

This begs the question: Are there any other factors affecting this tale of two Science Halls and getting confused between the two?


Signage is arguably one such unsung and vital factor. Yes, there are signs pointing to Science Hall 1. Yes, there is a big name posted clearly on the front of Science Hall 2. 


Sounds great, right? Wrong. 


Science Hall 1 depends on a semi-ambiguous sign over its’ main entrance indicating “Science Hall.” It attempts to signpost that this building is what’s abbreviated as “SCI1” on MyCSUSM, which obviously flies over some students’ heads as they struggle to find what is actually located across campus in SCI2. 


What could help here? There should be a much bigger sign than the small paper post presently on the main entrance door pointing out that it is SCI1 and not SCI2. Other than that, maybe a proper “Science Hall 1” sign instead of just “Science Hall,” if school funding allows. That would help immensely.


Emails from faculty and staff are just as key as signage to minimize confusion and getting lost. Emails that clearly state which Science Hall building has the classroom should be sent both before and during the first week of classes. Sending emails will add a much-needed dimension to help students distinguish between the two buildings. 


Even with the above, almost nothing beats having physical people on-site and available to answer questions with their campus knowledge. Based on my observations, there are arguably already enough such physical people, so why were there still a considerable number of students confused as to which Science Hall is the right one? 


The Cougar Care Network tents are open on the first week of classes to help new students with almost any pressing questions. They probably received at least one Science-Hall-related question the first week. The said tables on the first week back were conveniently set up at University Hall Plaza and Chavez Plaza, essentially covering both Science Halls on opposite ends of campus. In addition, there were also student affairs professionals and orientation team leaders with “Ask Me” buttons who roamed campus and were also stationed at the Q Mart tables to take questions and guide students. 


Would it be overkill to post additional student affairs and orientation team members in front of each Science Hall to divert confused and/or ignorant students? I think not since as I saw the past few weeks, there are bound to be many questions and students too shy to ask them of other students who aren’t specifically posted/walking to answer them (aka a passerby or even an office worker, especially when they look like they’re in a rush or otherwise busy/preoccupied).


I’m not saying doing these things will be foolproof. There will always be those students who don’t read, those who don’t take the initiative and time to be informed and even those who are just too proud or shy to admit they need help. 


But if you need it, dear reader, don’t be too shy to ask for it, especially when it comes to the tale of the two Science Halls at CSUSM. You’ll save time and walking even more flights of stairs than needed. 


Besides, you don’t want to have to regret unnecessarily climbing more stairs at the Cal State University Stair Master than you need to, right?