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Averting Door Disasters

| Tuesday, January 21, 2014

WEB_Banner_DoorsEmily Hoffmann

I’m going to the men’s room on the second floor of O’Shaughnessy Hall. I extend my arm to push the door open but the door recedes before my hand makes contact. I think I must have somehow used The Force. As I’m wondering whether I should use my newfound abilities for good or ill, my hand strikes the gentleman who had opened the door from the other side. It was an awkward situation, but there was no blame to be assigned. How could either of us have known? There is, however, a plague of awkward door encounters on campus that be can easily remedied.

The front of South Dining Hall has six sets of wooden double-doors. Unless you are tall enough and have the presence of mind to look through the small window, there is a great possibility of hitting someone with the door as you open it. I’ve been hit by the door. I’ve hit people with the door. I’ve seen it happen to others.

There is an old Irish superstition that I learned about while searching “doors” for background info, that it is bad luck to exit by a different door than you came in. But that is exactly the solution to the problem in front of South Dining Hal. The doors on either extreme ought to be reserved for egress while the doors in the middle should be solely for entering.

I did not invent this system. Perhaps no one did. It seems to be that many students have spontaneously realized the merits of the system. “It only makes sense, why would anyone leave through the middle doors? It is clearly a further distance for them than someone angling themselves toward the inside coming from the front of the building,” says junior and frequent diner, Mike Temple.  Yet other students remain either ignorant or unmoved by the logic. Several diners who prefer to remain anonymous told me they never really thought about which door they use or alternately, that they go in the door on the far right to be closer to the stairs. In this way disaster is born.

There are other solutions. Glass doors or a revolving door would allow people to avoid trying to use the one port simultaneously from opposite directions. But a system for walking is perhaps the most elegant. It is simple in that it requires no modification to the building, but difficult to achieve in that the entire community must stand as one on this issue for the desired convenience to arise.

Some might argue that it is absurd to mandate a specific way of using doors. If people cannot do such a simple thing by themselves, what’s next? Will a particular gait be prescribed? Or perhaps everyone will have to wear hats. All the time, hats. But I think this concern is misguided because this system of entering one set of doors and exiting through others is not a further abrogation of individual liberties, but rather it represents the very heart of what it is to be in a society. By sacrificing a small bit of personal freedom, we can ensure the well being of our community. Well, we can ensure the welfare of our community in this very trivial aspect of daily life.

I invite all of you to join me on the door system.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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