In Turlington Plaza, it’s all Gators for themselves.
If you aren’t familiar with the Gator Nation (or if you’ve been living under a rock), Turlington is one of the free speech locations at the University of Florida, and it is the token spot for “tabling,” where student organizations promote events and initiatives.
Weekdays in Turlington are a hot mess of not only student group members and random Gainesville residents preaching about who-knows-what – but speedy walkers, earbud-clad runners, belligerent bicyclists and disinterested roamers are also a huge part of the picture.
From the perspective of a “tabler,” it is not always easy to stay positive in a plaza full of students who will do anything to avoid human interaction. It seems as though many students adopt a special Turlington personality type – a sort of alias – that only comes out as they approach the seemingly unavoidable area.
Unless you are one of the rare open-minded Turlington-goers who happily stop in the bustling gathering area to talk to each student promoting their organization, you’re probably familiar with one or more of these Turlington personas – you may even be one of them.
You may think you’re being sneaky as you make a sly detour toward the stairs to Marston Science Library – but we see you. We see your walking pace suddenly go from 0 to 100 as you make a dramatic turn away from the tablers, and we see that you weren’t even headed toward the library, after all. You can run, but you can’t hide.
The Power Walkers
We appreciate you for not taking the Marston detour, but can you please slow it down a bit? If our flyers blow away from the breeze you created from your walking speed, you’re probably walking too fast.
The Sk8ter Bois
This is UF, not the X-Games. There is a time and place for your skateboarding rendezvous, so unless you’re Tony Hawk, darting and crashing through the maze of student groups in Turlington needs to be removed for your itinerary, pronto.
The Origami Artists
The origami artists gladly accept a flyer – but instead of actually acknowledging the information on the piece of paper, they walk away, turn the paper into an elaborate, award-winning piece of origami and throw it away once they are “out of sight.”
They aren’t students, and they aren’t faculty – so, who are they? They’re Alachua County Residents, or ACRs – only the finest GVille residents who make their routine visits to Turlington Plaza to shmooze with students (and probably snag some freebies). Remember: just smile, nod and hand out flyers.
Some Turlington-goers opt for food as a sort of deterrence mechanism, as if holding an apple or a Jimmy John’s sub suddenly makes you less approachable. The Plaza has seen it all – bananas, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Chick-fil-A nuggets and granola bars of all shapes and sizes.
Let’s not forget about the students who put their earbuds on right before diving into the deep blue sea of student organizations. That’s right – you want us to think you’ve been listening to your ‘90s Hits Pandora station for the entirety of your cross-campus commute, but we know you’re pretending to jam out so you can avoid human interaction. Well played.
As frustrating as it is to walk through Turlington and wanting nothing more than to become invisible, a stroll through the plaza is perhaps the best illustration of our incredibly involved, motivated student leaders who want nothing more than to help fellow Gators find their passions.
At the end of the day, though, both parties can agree on one thing: when it comes to Turlington, the struggle is real.
Photo credit: GainesvilleScene.com