Zoom calls remain a looming presence in our lives, although life has gone somewhat back to “normal” with our return to campus. While most students take in-person classes, the need to take Zoom or virtual calls continues for students whose courses have either switched to remote learning or are asynchronous. Students who also have remote jobs and internships will need a place to take their virtual meetings.
However, there aren’t many places on campus to take Zoom calls outside of your dorm or off-campus housing. Quiet spaces where people tend to study are too awkward to take calls because it feels like everyone can hear what you’re saying, defeating the purpose of quiet floors and spaces. Additionally, it becomes distracting to take calls at the more lively spaces on campus like the cafes or Student Union because of the conglomeration of noise in the background.
And I know what you’re going to say: Why don’t you go back to your dorm to take a call? Going back to the dorms or off-campus housing every time to take a virtual call is a hassle and not always feasible. Sometimes there isn’t enough time to head back to your room to take a call — and then what? Below are the three places to take Zoom calls outside of your dorm.
1. The Library, 22nd Floor
There aren’t many spaces to take virtual calls at the library. The basement and Procrastination Station are too distracting, and I feel like a distraction taking Zoom calls on the quiet floors. The 22nd-floor, however, is the goldilocks of spaces at the library. It houses the W. E. B. Du Bois Center and the East Asian Collection, and both rooms stand parallel to each other and appear on either side of you when you walk out of the elevator. The W. E. B. Du Bois Center offers a conference-style seating, with a long rectangular table in the middle and chairs sprinkled around the table. The back of the East Asian Collection room has rows of long tables and chairs, which is very dining hall-esque in its arrangement. Both rooms are often quiet, well-lit, and empty, creating the perfect environment to take calls.
2. Empty Classrooms in Machmer Hall
I have the unfortunate pleasure of taking classes in the confusing maze of a building that is Machmer. Through my disoriented wanderings through Machmer, I’ve come to realize that at least one classroom in Machmer is empty at all times. Because people tend to avoid Machmer if they have no business being in the building, empty classrooms in that building are one of the best places to take Zoom calls. I’ve taken calls and worked in empty classrooms in Machmer and was not distracted the whole time.
3. Empty classrooms in the ILC
Unlike Machmer, the ILC is one of the more loved buildings on campus. With its popularity comes an onslaught of people and background noise, making it hard to take a Zoom call. Spaces like the Communications Hub located on the third floor of the ILC are too quiet to take a call. However, empty classrooms at the ILC create the perfect (or as perfect as it will get) atmosphere to take calls.
Also, one could take calls outside, but as summer fades into fall and the leaves turn an orange hue, taking calls in the nice summery air will no longer be an option. UMass needs to create spaces for taking Zoom calls on campus because asynchronous learning and working are now many students’ reality. Figuring out where to take a call in 15 minutes with no time to head back to your room is a different kind of stress I’d wish upon no one. It is also another layer of stress that students don’t have to face in addition to everything else happening on campus. It’s the small things that create the most significant hurdles, but also have considerable potential to have a positive impact. So get with the times, UMass!