Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Worst Buildings on Campus – Bartlett: Nothing to write home about

By Matthew M. Robare

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Marielle Fibish/Collegian

Click here to view the other side of the Point-Counterpoint: “Lost in the science jungle.”
Click here to view the rest of the Worst Buildings on Campus.

Yesterday I had a test in Bartlett. If you have somehow managed to be blessed with never having class there, I hope you fully appreciate just how lucky you are. It’s like finding the winning lottery ticket on the street, wrapped snuggly in $100 bills.

That’s a measure of how bad Bartlett is.

Bartlett 67 is the weirdest lecture hall on campus. It’s supposed to be both an auditorium and a theater – Student Valley Productions has the annual Comedy Jam in there in April and once in a while the Theater Guild has a show on – but fails at both. It sucks as a theater because the stage is so high you’re practically looking up the actors’ skirts – if you don’t sit so far that it’s impossible to hear them. The acoustics are awful. You can hear the conversation eleven rows back about Eli Manning or the latest issue of “Cosmopolitan” loud and clear, but without a microphone you can’t hear the professor at all.

The chairs are so old the cushions have lost their shape entirely and those desks – only a few inches wide are impossible to work with. I had a calculus exam in there once and it was impossible. There was no room on the desk for the exam or the sheet of the paper we were doing our work on and if you were writing something down and got too close to that curved edge, hello huge hole in the paper. My exam must have looked like it had been attacked by Mutant Killer Termites from Neptune.

Bartlett lacks a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. This means that over the winter group in-class projects are a must to allow students to huddle together for warmth. I’ve taken a few double-length classes in the library, always with very few other students. In Bartlett in the winter we would have been in real danger of hypothermia.

The building is also, quite frankly, butt-ugly. The architecture positively reeks of a short-lived, hedonist love affair between a classic collegiate style and the 1950’s. Outside, that little garden rarely has anything growing in it. Whether that’s because of all the garbage that’s accumulated there over the years, or because Bartlett’s hip “L” shape blocks the sunlight, is difficult to tell. The interior isn’t very good, either. Naturally “slate gray” was chosen to be the dominant color because it’s so exciting and stimulating. God knows University of Massachusetts students could always use some more bland and unappealing in their lives. Department offices are cramped and narrow, while the hallways are poorly lit. The vending machines in the lobby have stolen money on more than one occasion, and the computers can be very slow at times.

Normally I balk at the University spending $85 million on new building projects, although with the state contributing $65 million, it’s more like $20 million. But they’re going to replace Bartlett Hall with a building that, cross my heart and hope to die, will have working thermostats.

Bartlett is also home to the English Department. Collectively, English Departments are recognized the all over the world as the most useless wastes of space and resources. Don’t get the wrong impression. I have known many fine English majors. They’re quality people and I believe them when they say it’s not their fault that they slacked off so much that their only option was to major in English or Biology and they didn’t like the idea of dissection. But that still doesn’t excuse English Departments from offering the most useless college degree ever. There’s nothing you can do with an English degree that a more practical degree, such as Basket Weaving, would not also qualify you for. On top of that, if you major in Basket Weaving, you are also qualified to weave baskets and probably those straw hats farmers are stereotypically associated with.

Back to the point: Bartlett is an improperly heated, horribly plumbed, English professor-infested architectural blight on this campus. If we’re lucky, no one will be hurt when the next big gust of wind off DuBois blows it over.

Matthew M. Robare is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]


16 Responses to “Worst Buildings on Campus – Bartlett: Nothing to write home about”

  1. Alex Silber on December 10th, 2010 11:44 am

    Mr. Robare, I am astonished that your personal attack aimed towards a group of students was allowed in this otherwise decent article. It is disrespectful, and unfair to those who majored in English, to proclaim that English majors as a group are “slackers” (Who are you, Principal Strickland?), and are intending to obtain “the most useless degree ever.”

    All degrees have value or students would not wish to obtain them. If you question their usefulness based on the potential of receiving a job, then you are mistaken to assume that English majors cannot obtain quality jobs. In fact they are just as likely, if not more so, to receive one than say…a journalism or communications major.

    English is a broad field of study that prepares you for a job in an assortment of fields. It is not as broad as a communications major, nor not as specific as journalism, but a good balance of the two. Specificity is great, but not all employers are looking for potential recruits that can’t readily adapt beyond their field of study.

    I don’t mean to bash the journalism and communications departments — they are both proud, and strong departments. Each of those majors has their value in the job marketplace, and I have no reason to deny that. What I am trying to convey is that they all have different target employment audiences, and that it is unfair to state that any one of them is useless. In fact, they all provide major roles in how our society and culture continue to form and adapt. (Pun intended)

  2. Acacia on December 10th, 2010 12:49 pm

    Well said, Mr. Silber.

  3. Colonel Salisbury HalfNickel Notpenny on December 10th, 2010 1:00 pm

    Jerry Bruckheimer graduated with a degree in English

  4. Colonel Salisbury HalfNickel Notpenny on December 10th, 2010 1:01 pm

    I take that back. David Duchovny did. Jerry Bruckheimer was lazy. he graduated with a psych degree. loser.

  5. J.S. on December 10th, 2010 1:34 pm

    A Modest Proposal:

    Perhaps Matt Robare is right. English majors are lazy slackers, second only to biology majors in lack of intellectual drive or ambition. After all, literacy and literary sensibilities have long been the mark of the ill-adjusted dregs of society. I know that I always cross to the other side of the street if I see some book-toting roustabout approaching. Imagine if he started analyzing the book right in front of me! Displaying comprehension of its themes, aesthetic values, and cultural contexts, in public, no less! Indecent, is what it is. Won’t someone think of the children.

    To that end, I have the following proposal, which I’m sure Matt would love to write an article endorsing. Given that studying English is utterly useless, why don’t we ban it? Even better, ban literature itself; if studying and trying to understand literature is an unredeemable waste of time, then surely literature itself is also pointless. After all, what is human culture if not the mechanistic molding of young people into units of economic production? If literature, or art, or anything else is a distraction to that end, good riddance to it.

    So what do you say, Matt? Let’s give it a go.

  6. Bryan Rizza on December 10th, 2010 2:37 pm

    I am going to be as unapologetic with my anger after reading this piece. Your lack of journalistic integrity astounds me. Your basic ignorance and lack of fact finding astounds me as well. A simple check of the building itself would easily reveal that having no heat in any building is illegal, and would force a shutdown of winter classes in that building until the heat came back on.

    Your article is filled with such poorly reasoned trash it is impossible to find any gem of worth in reading it. Apparently your critique of the architecture, though you have no background in that, as well as your general problems with slowness on the computers and vending machines, both of which have nothing to do with the building, are supposed to be reasons as to why the University should spend millions of dollars to replace it.

    If there was a problem with the heat, this would be newsworthy. If there was a problem with the acoustics in the theatre, then it wouldn’t be a worthy venue for theatre guild events- but who is the judge of this? Whoever you are, no credentials and just an opinion you choke into your article? Or the theatre guild or the professors who use the stage? If they have a problem, if you got evidence from these people rather than just making half assertions just to get reactions. Combine this with your attack on the english dept, and I can’t imagine that you actually wrote this for any other reason than to create controversy and some response.

    Your article represents the worst of journalism and I can believe the collegian has such low standards as to allow it on its pages, online or off.

  7. Elie Feinstein on December 10th, 2010 3:01 pm

    How dare you. Shame on you, Mr. Robare. Shame on you. This is the most disgusting thing I’ve read in the Collegian and one of the most disgusting things I’ve read in any publication for that matter. Maybe if you WERE an English major you would have learned to support at least some of what you say.

  8. Anna on December 10th, 2010 3:55 pm

    I would like to second everything the person above me said, and I would like to add that you sound completely unprofessional and childish. I hope your major isn’t journalism, because whining for an entire article is not going to get you a good job. Just a word of advice, since you feel like attacking other people for their life choices. And for the record, I’m not even an English major and I still think you sound like a pretentious jerk.

    It’s good to know that the Collegian staff are writing such important and crucial articles about campus life 🙂

  9. Adam Bartman on December 10th, 2010 3:59 pm

    Hey Alex, as far as I’ve heard, Mr. Robare is usually trying to be funny. This is apparently what he calls satire. Regardless, it seems that people are constantly pissed off at him for the things he writes, because he couldn’t write something funny to save his life, and usually just ends up sounding like a dick.

    Matt, I’m a transfer student. I’ve been here for less than two years, and before I even knew that you were acquainted with any of my friends, your op-ed pieces angered me to a point that usually only the US Senate can. I’ve seen your comments on Silber’s Facebook, and to say the least, they’re insulting.

    I hope when you apply for jobs, they don’t check your previous work, and god forbid, your Facebook (for your sake… only). If they do, you’ll probably end up thinking up cute nicknames to call celebrity couples in your gossip columns for the rest of your life.

  10. evan on December 11th, 2010 5:10 am

    Horrible article. I assume that it was written in an hour or less, because both content and word choice are atrocious. Its like someone farted on a page and then translated it into broken English. Horrible

  11. Chevalier on December 11th, 2010 12:27 pm

    Please note that this column is posted in the Editorial/Opinion section. Your excoriation of the writer for violating journalistic standards that only apply to hard news pieces is invalid.

    As for the section regarding English degrees, I should think the crack about Basket Weaving makes it obvious the writer is trying to be whimsical.

    In future, please take a moment to engage the intellectual part of your brains before you resort to spewing emotional vitriol against undeserving student writers.

  12. Alex Silber on December 11th, 2010 4:52 pm


    There is a difference between an Ed/Op and a slam piece. Apparently you and Mr. Robare fail to understand the difference. Especially when a fair critique brings upon the wrath of the writer.

    As for your comment on the so called “whimsical crack,” it should be made clear that one obscure joke (taken from a film) does not reverse the blatant and poorly backed up claims against English Majors and the English Department as a whole.

    In future, when defending the author of an Ed/Op piece, please take a moment to not insult the readers who comment and critique said piece. It does not help the author’s credibility, nor does it show that you have taken your own advice to heart.

    Oh, and lay off the big words lest you be mistaken for one of those useless, slacking English Majors!

  13. Fred on December 11th, 2010 5:24 pm

    Chevalier- we are all able to read English and we have read columns before. Posting an article in an “ed/op” section does not automatically excuse it from standards and integrity. I think you should analyze whats in your pants more than what other people think bout this shit.

  14. Flamer on December 11th, 2010 11:32 pm


  15. Daniel on December 12th, 2010 2:50 pm

    Before you go insulting English majors, you should realize that journalism majors aren’t known for finding too many jobs either. Hell, some of the journalism professors tell their students that they will never get jobs because they went to UMass and not some other more respected college.

  16. Kris on January 22nd, 2011 3:38 pm

    You should all check out the engineering lab. It’s a mess of a building as well. And the degrees earned in those classrooms are actually worth more than the paper they are printed on.

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