The truth about the math lab


A loud mathematics professor and a squeaking door opening and closing are just some of the things you will hear as you are face to face with a computer at the math lab.

The math lab, which is located on the second floor of the Sims Memorial Library, is not many people’s friend, especially not mine. It has multiple problems, one of these problems being a time restraint on students like myself: a full-time student and a job holder. Courses that require you to attend the lab often ask you to attend for at least three hours a week. That does not sound like much but hear this: the math lab is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In the fall semester, I took classes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. After classes, I would work until really late, and they would be closed by the time I finished. That gave me little to no time to run to the second floor of the library and “sharpen” my college algebra skills. Then, if you confronted your professor on the issue, they would simply say, “That’s not my problem” and go on with their day.

Besides the major time constraint, the math lab is also in no way helpful, especially to me. Half of the time, I would leave with many questions, and I would never truly feel educated on the topic at hand. The lab is mostly run by undergraduate students who at times would send me into concern and mistrust. I would often leave and go to YouTube for any questions or concerns I had. Thank God for Khan Academy and YouTube. Without them, I would not have passed college algebra. I feel that if the math department established an online math lab, it would be more useful and more effective to its students.

Along with the time restraint and not being helpful at all, the instructors were stricter than a nun. If you even look at your phone, they scold you and threaten to kick you out. Now, I get that you’re supposed to go there to “learn,” but let’s be honest for a moment. The instructors stay on their phones for almost the entire time. The people who make these rules do not follow them. One cannot make rules and not follow them. While being in the lab, you should be allowed you to use your phone for math reasons only, instead of banning them in total. If I were to use my phone, I would have understood algebra a little bit more.

The pure stench adds to the reasons I despise the math lab. Have you ever walked into a classroom, business or store and could not get past the putrid smell? Well, the math lab has that putrid stench. Whether it is a student opening up a Panda Express meal or the smell of someone’s Chick-fil-A spicy chicken sandwich, the odors mix and are tough to stomach. I used to hate when an “assistant” would open up a smelly Greek salad in the middle of me doing a long equation. I hated math as it was already. Why would someone force me to do math in a nose-wrenching stench room? The math lab has a disturbing stench about it that could never be stomached. The room should ban food all together in order for people to focus a little more on math than smell.

Now yes, I do see how educators see the math lab as a responsibility for incoming freshmen to attend after class, but I feel like there could be a better solution in order to check for responsibility. Maybe the university can do online check-ins instead of going to the lab. Students have access to technology at their fingertips. So, options like online log-in or the use of lockdown browser might be more helpful. Maybe students could understand algebra a little more.

To me, the math lab is a complete joke and a waste of time. I can truly say that it has never helped me as a student and will never help either, but maybe with a few rule changes and a little bit wiser use of technology, the math lab can become a little bit more resourceful.