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First Impressions: Mapping Campus

Friday, February 26, 2010
Aaron Richmond Havel

"I was really inspired by the idea of alternative mapping, and how we could apply that to the Hampshire campus," says Matthew Gonzalez, a first-year student who is using his research project from last semester as a tool to continue to learn about and improve the campus. Inspired by an in-class prompt about mapping a space by functionality, and how students actually use space, Gonzalez began to wonder if the layout of the Hampshire campus was affecting the first-year experience. What he found intrigued him.

He used a series of questions, such as "Where do you feel uncomfortable?" or "Where can you socialize with the older students on campus?" to gather information on the first-year experience. As more students contributed their input, the answers became color-coordinated dots spread out over a campus map to define space outside of architectural boundaries.

As we discussed his process, I noticed the yellow dots, signaling less comfort within a space, dominated the apartment-style mods, where most of the older students live. "I found that the first-year experience really begins and revolves around the quads," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez wants to continue his research, "I would ask different questions, maybe more in-depth ones where people can explain why they feel a certain way." As an employee in the admissions office, in charge of multicultural student visits, he wants to utilize his findings to create a better sense of the Hampshire experience for visiting students. "Tours are great, but they don't really tell you about what its really like to be a student here," Gonzalez added. "I want to understand what the real first-year experience is all about, collectively, to give visiting students a better understanding."

On-campus students can contribute to Gonzalez's research: mg09@hampshire.edu.

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