There is one location right off campus most students are forced to endure: the Math Emporium.
Most students at Virginia Tech have at least taken one class in the Math Emporium, and at least 99.9 percent of those students probably regretted it afterwards. However, some courses are only offered there and are required for certain majors. This makes improving the clunky, awkward system of the Math Emporium a priority in every sense.
Taking to Twitter seems to be the common way for people to vent and freshman Jacqueline's tweet, “LEAVING THE EMPO IS THE BEST FEELING. HELLO REAL WORLD, I'VE MISSED YOU,” just about sums it up. The sad thing is tweets like this show up on my Twitter timeline every single day. That is how unpopular the Math Emporium is, and there are many good reasons for it.
For one thing, the location of the Math Emporium is very inconvenient. It is currently located a few miles off campus at University Mall. Would it not make more sense to build the Math Emporium on campus, where access to it is much easier? The fact is that freshmen make up a majority of the students who take classes there, and less than half of the freshmen on campus own a car. There is bus service to the Emporium every fifteen minutes from Newman Library on weekdays, but it is quite a hassle to have to hop on a bus two to three times a week with everything else going on.
The environment of the Math Emporium is another big issue. The Empo, as many call it, is a huge room with over 500 Apple computers and student tutors who walk around to help out. The student tutors can be hit or miss — some are really helpful, while others are not.
To receive help from a tutor, you must put the red cup at your station on top of your screen. About half of the tutors I have encountered have made me feel like a moron; it makes me not want to utilize my red cup. Some critical students have even nicknamed this red cup, “The Stupid Cup.”
On top of that, the tutors have been known, on more than one occasion, to mislead students on how to execute problems. Only a portion of tutors have a good idea of the math you are performing, and you have to hope the one you get knows your subject material. If not, they are about as helpful as the students sitting around you.
The Math Emporium is for people proficient in mathematics. However, not all students can teach themselves calculus. I will be the first to admit that I am mathematically challenged; I have trouble with math in a standard classroom setting and there are many other students like me who have issues with grasping these types of concepts. I find it ridiculous for the university to think all of its students can teach themselves such a high-level math with little to no help.
The online textbook for MATH 1525, the class I am currently taking, is probably the worst resource I have ever been forced to refer to. It is almost as though the writers thought that if we looked at a picture and read a few sentences, then we will all automatically have an epiphany.
Sadly, this rarely happens, and you are forced to find alternative methods to actually learn the material.
The quizzes make the courses offered at the Math Emporium even more of a pain. For many of the courses offered, the quizzes contain only six questions, meaning that if you get more than one question wrong, you cannot even get a C. Just hope the quiz accurately reflects what you are learning — sometimes they do not.
However, proctored exams are what matter the most, and fortunately, they are the only thing that make sense in this convoluted system.
The Math Emporium was an intriguing innovation doomed to fail from its very beginning. With all of the equipment and employees that reside there, I am sure the university does not plan to tear it down anytime soon. Nonetheless, changes must be made to the Empo to make it a convenience rather than a burden on the entire student population. If the university wishes for the Math Emporium to remain, it must make a change and make it fast.