The Cramer Hall vortex

It is my firm belief that Cramer Hall was built in a vortex.

It is impossible to venture into this building without getting lost in one way or another.

And as it is a building at the heart of campus, filled almost entirely with classrooms, it is probable that every student will have at least one class in this building at some point in their career at Portland State.

Having gotten lost every time, to every one of the three classes held in different rooms on different floors of Cramer Hall my first term here at PSU, I have determined that I must do my part to help keep other students, new and returning, from experiencing this frustration.

It is my duty, as an individual who has experienced the mysteries of Cramer Hall first hand, to inform you of what knowledge I have been able to learn that will help you in your own forays into the perplexing structure.

Grab a flashlight, a can of orange spray paint and your Fox Mulder T-shirt and prepare to investigate the Cramer Hall conspiracy.

To begin, let me inform you that no two floors of Cramer Hall are exactly alike. This is imperative and cannot be forgotten or ignored.

The first floor may be at ground level on the south side of the building; on the north side, however, you will find yourself one story above ground.

This isn’t too strange, once you realize that Cramer Hall is built on a hill. Just remember, ground floor on the north side means you are in the basement – not the first floor.

Here’s another thing to remember: One corner of both the first and second floors is distinct from the others. These two corners are known as “University Studies Classrooms.”

If you take a University Studies class (a mystery this reporter is not yet ready to tackle), it is likely, although not guaranteed, that your class will be held in one of these rooms.

They are also sequestered with an assortment of computer labs, but don’t depend on these rooms when you need to write a history paper at the last minute. They are often used for the mentored inquiry sections to a freshman or sophomore inquiry class.

The third floor can be reached by stair, elevator or open-air sky bridge. For those of you who don’t know, the sky bridges are those walkways way above your head. So when you feel something wet land on your head, it could be bird droppings – or something a fellow student launched from his or her mouth.

The open-air sky bridge that connects to Cramer Hall comes from the third floor of Smith Memorial Student Union to the south.

On the north side, however, the building connects to Lincoln Hall through a covered sky bridge that feels nearly as old as Lincoln Hall itself. (Mind you, the haunted lore of Lincoln Hall is fodder enough for an entire issue of the Vanguard, and will not be delved into at this point).

The fourth floor shouldn’t feel left out, either, though. It, too, has connections to a covered sky bridge on the south side. This is a direct route through the fourth floor of Smith Memorial Student Union and the third floor of Neuberger Hall.

Last but certainly not least, I shall not forget the basement level. This sloped floor is home to PSU’s geology department and whenever you feel or think you feel a tectonic quaking beneath your converses, the Cramer Hall basement is the place to be.

Here you will find a large seismograph that local TV stations like to catch footage of every time an earthquake large enough to register hits the Rose City.

Of course, the anomaly of Cramer Hall is not limited to the vast differences between floors. The basic layout of the hallways – fairly similar at least between levels – is confusing.

There are classrooms around the outside, and classrooms in the middle. One hallway circles the entire floor, and another cuts straight through the middle.

This seems simple enough, but try following the classroom numbers with this confusing layout.

Sadly, this reporter has not yet managed to uncover the secrets of the classroom numbering system in Cramer Hall. That is a mystery best left to a higher power.

But I can offer you this piece of advice: When you take a look at your schedule of classes, and see your 12:15 located in a room in Cramer Hall, allow yourself some extra time to find your way. You never know what you might encounter en route to Sociology 210.