Why Nicholson Hall won't be missed
Over the past two years I have come to be very familiar with Nicholson Hall. It was unavoidable considering that, as an arts student, all of my classes have been within its thick and suffocating walls. It has been the bane of my existence; its framework representing – and indeed adding to – the inescapable anxiety, dread and despair that plagues student life. Thus, here are seven reasons why Nicholson Hall will not be missed (cue the Miley Cyrus).
1. Nicholson’s Bleak Aesthetic
Never before was I aware that there were so many ways to express mundanity through beige and yellow until I walked through those heavy doors. Yet it seems as though whoever it was that built Nicholson strived to increase the disdain students felt as they sat through lectures. It is as though it was declared, “Let them suffer through monotone professors! In fact, let’s not even give them a window for an outlet of distraction! No - they must stare at the grooved wall, counting down the seconds (if the classroom has even been graced with a working clock) until they can flee. We must box them in, trapped by cement blocks and harsh lighting.” Kent MacDonald said it best on Facebook, posting a picture of Nicholson’s demolition, noting that the building finally had a window upon its destruction.
To be fair, Nicholson rooms weren’t completely devoid of colour. Look no further than the chewed-carrot orange found in the spattering of faded black and grubby white butt rests that were called chairs. Oh and who could forget the floors: an ambiguous shade of grey-green masking all the mess of a Canadian winter.
You don’t even need to enter Nicholson’s halls to understand just how ugly the building was; its red brick exterior bubbled reflections of prisons and insane asylums of the 1950s.
Summed up, Nicholson Hall was ugly. This leads me to my second point of issue with Nicholson.
2. The Nap Conundrum
With Nicholson’s inner look being drab and boring, it conveyed sentiments that, especially during early morning lectures, invited drowsiness. It would be all too easy to drift off to sleep, especially if it meant that you no longer had to look at the painful interior; but this is only if you could ignore the torturous discomfort of sitting in Nicholson Hall chairs. Thus, if one did fall asleep in class, finding solace in a dream, you were then faced with the pain of waking up with an aching back and butt – a nightmare indeed.
3. “Trips” to Class
Nicholson stairs, both inside and out, always presented an issue – especially for those who are accident prone. I can remember many times stretching my legs, attempting to reach my foot to the next steep step, only to hit it against the hard edge, sending my heavily book laden torso down to the floor. Entering the classrooms after surviving these treacherous stairs, you were then forced to recalculate the distance between steps from the stride of a giraffe to that of a mouse. The steps within lecture halls are significantly shorter than those of the stairwells. Of course, miscalculations occur and embarrassment ensues. To avoid those incidents would be a blessing to anyone’s self-esteem.
4. Learning to Balance
Nicholson Hall was severely lacking in surface area and personal space when it came to writing surfaces. Normal human movements were restricted in the classrooms, as students had to assert their dominance in order to claim sufficient space to function properly. Class always seemed to deteriorate into a balancing act: the text in my lap, my notebook teetering on the edge of a desk, constantly apologising for hitting my neighbour as I vigorously copied down lecture notes. Laptop users had trouble finding the space to type, while those condemned to the life of pen and paper were fearful of incoming elbows. Left-handers also had a rough time; there was never a sufficient number of left-handed seats to accommodate those who needed them, resulting in awkward maneuvering.
5. I Never Understood the Bathrooms
I mean, I can only really speak to the women’s washrooms, but I know that they were all less than ideal. I could never wrap my head around why there was such a large foyer to the second-floor women’s bathroom while the actual stalls were so sparse. It would have been much more useful to at least put in more than one sink to avoid awkwardly waiting behind your former stall neighbour. The cherry on top was the dull musk that would emanate around the bathrooms at all times, certainly enough to sour anyone’s day.
This is a significant issue that will not be missed by the X population. Nicholson Hall’s position upon a hill presented several issues of accessibility to those with physical disabilities. People had to take long paths that looped around in order to avoid stairs to be able to even enter the building. Nicholson’s temperamental elevator, cramped and slow, provided a further obstacle as it constantly malfunctioned. Many a late student arrived to class thanks to it. Furthermore, many classrooms lacked a place for those with wheelchairs, forcing them to sit either front and center or at the very back.
It should be noted that this issue is not merely disappearing with the demolition of Nicholson; it is a campus-wide issue that I can only hope will be mitigated with the creation of the Mulroney Institute. Basic rights that are afforded to all students are being discarded when it comes to those with physical disabilities, and this should be reconciled as soon as possible.
7. The Fact That I Will Actually Miss It
Last but not least, the truth. As much as I want to say good-bye and good-riddance to that old building, I know I am still going to be nostalgic for what once was. I hate the fact that I will look back on fond memories featuring a Nicholson Hall backdrop, and have no choice but appreciate what Nicholson gave us. It was a lecture hall, it served its purpose, and it was a part of St. FX for about 50 years. It was a place to pursue learning, joke around with friends, and get immersed into X culture and pride. And so, I must say that what I hate most of all is that I will truly miss Nicholson and what it contributed to my X-perience.