By Rebecca Gonner
Simpkins: home, refuge, and learning space of the English Major. Those who claim the title have a special familiarity with the random fireplaces, awkwardly short bathroom stalls, and moaning noises when the wind blows just right. We’ve all sat petrified as a wasp hovers over our heads while our professors insist we stop being cowards and ignore it. Each of us knows the joy of watching a professor wrestle with the Simpkins 14 projector in vain attempts to coerce cooperation.
Yes, we’ve bonded over many of our building’s lovely quirks as we enjoy the heated floors in the hallways waiting for our classroom to open. Yet one experience is known by English Majors and non-majors alike. All who enter Simpkins’ hallowed halls every week (whether for a gen ed or a grad class) know of the Simpkins puddle.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you exhibit A.
The Simpkins puddle forms at each rain fall on the path to the north facing entrance of Simpkins, arguably the most frequented of all Simpkins entrances. You may be asking yourself: How does this bizarre phenomenon occur? An excellent question.
Allow me to present, exhibit B, the Simpkins Sidewalk Dip.
You see friends, located at the juncture of four sidewalks sits this low point. When it rains, all the water from the surrounding area runs here. As a result, a sizable puddle forms, blocking the path to our beloved Simpkins. How, you may ask, do the students of Western Illinois University cope with such a clear obstruction to the center of English learning? Worry not, dear friends, for the Western students have found a number of ways to pass by the puddle and reach the safety of the north entrance.
There are four main techniques that students use which depend on such circumstances as time, footwear, and size of the puddle. The techniques are as follows: over, through, around, avoid (pictured below).
First, over: when the puddle is small enough–either early in its formation or late in the drying-up process–students can safely step or leap across the puddle to the dry sidewalk on the other side. Second, through: students who come prepared and wear rain boots will happily trudge right through the murky water, not paying it a second glance.
The third technique (and my personal favorite) is to venture onto the grass surrounding the puddle and cut across to the sidewalk on the other side. The amount of breadth a student must give the puddle changes based on the size of the puddle and squishiness of the grass surrounding it.
Finally, if a student has enough time as they approach the puddle, they may simply choose to avoid and follow the sidewalk around to the west entrance instead. This is the least common technique, due to both the unlikelihood that college students would have time for such maneuvers and the fact that habits aren’t broken easily, so a student who has chosen a regular path to class will stay on that path unless acted upon by catastrophic circumstances (Newton’s lesser-known law of motion).
Once students have chosen and executed their technique and made it safely to the warmth of Simpkins Hall, the squeaks and squeals of shoes echo off the walls as students rush to classrooms and enter the world of English learning.