A Campus Tour

Why Are You Here and Not Somewhere Else?
Campus tour illistration
Photo by: 
Ryan Snook
Stay in that spot. Look around. Do not move.

1. The seal
The Reynolds Club seal stands as a myth, a tradition, for all UChicago students; step on the seal and you won't graduate in four years. We want you to challenge that myth. Stand on the seal. Wait. Wait some more. Eventually someone will approach you with an envelope of materials (pen, paper, permanent marker, a card with a phone number, a picture of the Booth sign). Take a picture of your feet on the seal and send it to the number.

2. North parking garage on 55th
Climb to the top of the 55th Street parking garage. Acknowledge Pierce, either in its fleeting existence, or in its recent absence. Snap a picture.

3. Bookstore
The bookstore used to be the old law school and allows you to reflect on the changes that the campus has undergone over time. Buy a stereotypical trinket (a pen, keychain, etc.) that represents UChicago to you. Take a picture.

4. 171 bus to Harris
The bus is one of the most "normal" parts of a student's daily routine—a place to zone out. Catch the 171 down to 60th. Don't zone out. Listen intensely to the people around you. Write down a conversation you overhear.

5. Doomsday clock at the Harris School
What could possibly be more uncomfortable than the end of the world? Few UChicago students know that the Harris School is the home to the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock face maintained by the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Ask somebody where you can find the Doomsday Clock. Take a picture.

6. Harper
Stand in the middle of the reading room and take a picture of the ceiling. Stay in that spot. Look around. Do not move. Embrace the discomfort.

7. Quad
Go to the main quad and find a seat to relax. Once you're seated, press play and listen to Hindemith's Mathis der Maler. Simply observe the campus and the people around you until the song is over. The main quad is essentially the heart of campus. Unlike other locations on the tour, this will be one of the few places where nearly all students will feel comfortable.

8. Ryerson tower
The roof of Ryerson is a place that not many people know about. You get an amazing view of the quad, as well as the sky (during the night). What do you see from this view? What sort of scenes do you observe from up above—things that you might not see from ground level?

9. Ryerson basement stairs
Much of our tour is about creating a feeling of unease or dissonance. In this instance, we expect stairs to take us places, and these do not. Especially in the context of a tour, where a person is expecting to be led somewhere new, the sensation of just stopping is uncomfortable.

At the dead-end wall will be old pictures of every place we had participants photograph. Here a picture of Ryerson before Eckhart was built; there a picture of Pierce before it was torn down. These images are both familiar and strange, depicting at the same time a place you know intimately and a place you've never seen. This feeling is what we seek to accomplish with the whole tour.

There will also be a place to write the answer to the question we asked at the beginning of the tour: "Why are you here and not somewhere else?"

Tagged: College Newsletter