“Like any needy boyfriend, The MAC calls me at all hours.” A current senior’s description of her relationship with The Moorhead Academic Center epitomizes the appreciation loyal MAC attendees feel for their beloved study space. While The MAC grows particularly popular during exam weeks, a core group of students consistently work in Mr. Wilson’s study safe haven, viewing it as the “sole place in which focus is possible.”
The MAC’s primary purpose is to provide a space for concentrated work. Hours of drowning in work understandably require study breaks, and a popular outlet amongst MAC-goers is the tendency to write out thoughts on the desks. The tradition of carving initials and jokes into the desk clearly dates back a few years, serving as tribute to the many students that have been pushed to tears by Bio exams or “taken naps under The MAC desks” in years past. Repeatedly, students at Taft have left a piece of their legacies on MAC desks with their initials and graduation years (Cheers to ‘CPD’, whose initials mark each and every desk in The MAC). While comments left on the desks largely have a lighthearted tone, a few allude to hardships that Taft students commonly face.
One major concern revealed by the writing on desks in The MAC is the copious amounts of stress that Taft students undergo. Nearly every desk hints at the level of pressure students feel about their workloads. Students’ desk markings reveal concerns about overwhelming homework, the college process, exams, etc. One comment reads “Thanks Taft for [so much] work.” Desk writing has become interactive; students draw arrows with follow up comments or affirmatively write “retweet” underneath relatable words. The number of negative reflections about “the college process” is alarming (and relatable). Students have come to expressing their troubles with simple onomatopoeias and acronyms: “Ahhhhhhhhhh”, “SOS”, “UGH”… Taft is undoubtedly a stress-inducing environment. Because The MAC is a designated workplace, it is sensical that frustration about studies is unleashed inside. However, the number of comments about the overwhelming nature of work at Taft is most definitely alarming and raises a crucial question: Are the pressures students feel at Taft healthy? Given the hyperspeed pace of activity in our community, is it time to reevaluate the level of pressure that students are facing?
Words on The MAC desks additionally touches upon the unhealthy social habits existent at Taft. Between mean girl culture, walkbacks, and a clearcut gender divide, there are certain areas of Taft’s social realm that are undeniably systematic and damaging. One desk reads, “why are the girls in my grade so mean?” The response reads, “cause girls suck.” The comments continue: “stay alive for me”, “help me”, and “we don’t love at Taft”. A certain amount of social challenge is obviously natural, but if we ‘cannot love’ at Taft, what does that say about the systems in place here? Do we intend to avert healthy relationships with others? Is the way in which our social society functions inevitably hurtful? The comments on the desks in The MAC allude to some of Taft’s largest, seemingly unsurpassable social challenges. While the context in which these comments were made is unknown, their message epitomizes some of Taft’s greatest social shortcomings. There are aspects of our social habits on-campus that do require mending.
While The MAC desks accurately encapsulate some negative aspects of Taft, the initials of students from years past and other, more positive comments reveal strong pride in and love for Taft. “Don’t kill our V16e” marks one desk. Another reads “4 more days,” another “last rodeo.” Recently (and most importantly), “B19 moves” has been scattered across the desks, likely by seniors. These spirited engravings serve to remind us that our time at Taft is limited. Even time spent in sometimes unbearable environments such as The MAC is finite. As a senior, the fleeting quality of time at Taft has been on my mind recently.
The comments on the desks in The MAC are telling; Taft is in some ways, an impaired place. However, the desks also reveal students’ adoration for this place. Because we do (and should) care about bettering Taft, a change in our entire community’s attitude towards and active treatment of both academic and social components of student life should be our constant priority.