One lighter issue that does not get significant attention yet affects practically everyone at NYU is elevator etiquette. Due to the urban nature of NYU’s campus, elevators are virtually unavoidable. Most students take elevators multiple times a day, to their dorms and to their classes. Everyone could take advantage of this time to meet new people, but instead it seems as though there is an unwritten rule that talking in elevators is forbidden.
Everyone has been there: someone gets on the elevator, they look at the other people onboard and they immediately look away and avoid communication. For no apparent reason, simply saying hello every once in while seems impossible, making the short elevator ride extremely awkward and seemingly endless. Of course not everyone wants to talk all the time, especially on those 8 a.m. elevator rides to class. However, constantly avoiding eye contact in the elevator does not help anyone. This university is filled with extremely outgoing people, so there is no reason why an elevator filled with 20 people should be dead silent. Many students have no problem making conversation on the street or in class, but elevators seem to silence almost everyone. This phenomenon is quite unfortunate considering elevators are an excellent gateway to new experiences and connections.
People are not that different; everyone on the elevator is thinking, “Wow, this is awkward.” Instead of standing silently, people could make conversation and meet their next best friend or their future spouse. It has happened before! Simply saying hi and making small talk will not hurt anyone. Instead, it would make all NYU students’ lives less awkward. In addition, small talk could even lead to a job opportunity. In New York City it is always possible to be on an elevator with an extremely powerful or significant person, making elevator rides unusual but important potential networking opportunities, hence the term “elevator pitch.” This may seem far-fetched, but one thing is for certain: silence will result in nothing.
Imagine a world where everyone got on the elevator, said hello and made occasional small talk. Granted this may not be the most serious issue, but it is something that affects almost all NYU students and something that we all have the power to fix. It is ludicrous to think that many NYU students take the elevator with mostly the same people every single day, but they do not even know each other’s names. Instead of thinking of neighbors as “that guy with the ponytail” or “that girl with the pink hair,” get to know them, and stop acting like basic conversation is the end of the world.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 23 print edition. Email Andrew Heying at [email protected]