Entering the second week of the semester, the routine of making your way to your unofficial “assigned seats” each day has more than likely begun, but while this routine may be comforting to many, the routine can also be confining: literally.
The first week of this semester — for the first time ever — a professor told my class that we would have to stay in the seats we chose for the rest of the semester. While this is not usually the case, unspoken “assigned seats” are still a common practice in college classrooms regardless of a professor’s policy. As college newcomers will undoubtedly learn, students quickly become attached to their chosen seats.
However, not all students actively choose their unofficial “assigned seats.” Some students are left with slim pickings, not because they were late, but because other students knew how the routine of choosing a “forever” seat for the semester goes: get to class early in order to lay claim to the best seat in the house. The problem that arises is that these students figure they have claim over those same seats for the rest of the semester, even if they are late to class.
An article on psychology today states that “good routines can provide structure to your day” and free you from a lot of small decisions that could slow you down or use brain space you’d prefer to save for later. However, when someone is forced into a routine — like an unofficial “assigned seat” — that they don’t care for, then that routine is likely to become stressful in its confinement rather than comforting.
There is no rule officially stating that a student has dominion over a seat they chose the first week of the semester, but it’s widely understood that you should not encroach on someone’s territory once it has been claimed.
During the first week of the semester, students may play around with their seat choices in an attempt to get a better one than they originally chose — or were forced into — but by the second week, the game of musical chairs has usually died down.
Granted, this is not always the case. I have seen students change seats halfway through the semester — usually to a seat that’s been empty the whole time — but sometimes more daringly, to a seat that has been long occupied.
Admittedly, I’ve spent my college career migrating back to my chosen seat week-to-week without giving the comfort or convenience of others much thought, and that routine probably won’t change much this semester. However, I do understand that my chosen seat is never really “mine” and I encourage you to think the same way because you may be the one forced into an unwanted and unofficial “assigned seat” the next time around.
I encourage those forced into these unofficial “assigned seats” to simply change it up. You may upset the classroom status quo, but you’re completely within your rights to sit in a different seat if it’s more comfortable for your routine. Just remember, someone could do the same to you.