Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

February 19, 2009

Bassily Hall

Filed under: How it works,What the...? — Kaddee @ 2:26 pm

We now “live” on a huge state-of-the-art campus in the middle of the desert.  That is what the PR people tell us.  I’m still not sure what state they mean, nor which art.  And it is not just the whiny, soon-to-be-leaving profs that are wondering about the choices for this move.

All that, however is water under the proverbial bridge.  We are there and we have to deal with it – in whatever way we can.

My most recent “Dealing” was in relation to the Core class that I coordinate.  Each week, we have  a General Lecture – general in the sense that everyone in the class goes to this lecture.  It is given 2 times during the week, so 300+ students attend the each presentation of the lecture.

Last semester the “grand lecture hall” was not yet complete, so we were put into the “next biggest hall”.  That hall (Mansour Hall – for those who know AUC) is a raked lecture hall that seats 225 people.  For those who can do simple arithmetic, you see that there is a problem.

We spent the entirety of Fall Semester shoe-horning students into Mansour Hall for the lecture.  No-one was happy with the arrangement – but we had no other options.

At the end of Fall Semester, we got the OK to schedule into the “grand lecture hall” – a.k.a. Bassily Hall.  Il hamduli’allah!!!!!  This hall was designed to seat 1400 people – should be no problem for 300 at a shot!  FINALLY things are getting easier.

So Spring semester begins and…. guess what….. we can’t have the hall for the first of our lectures because it is being used for the inauguration of the campus and graduate student mid-year graduation.  So much for reserving the hall!  Ok, so we go BACK to Mansour Hall, but only for the first General Lecture, then….AHHHH… into the big hall.

An unfortunate glitch was revealed to me as we were preparing for our first lecture in Bassily Hall.  After talking with everyone regarding using Bassily Hall for the General Lectures, the numbers of students we would need to accommodate, and double/triple checking (and being ASSURED) that the hall would be ready and available, I was informed less than a week before our first use of the hall that….
“Oh, by the way, there is no sound system, projector/computer/screen or any other type of AV equipment in the hall.  It was never installed.  I hope that doesn’t cause you any inconvenience.”

WHAT!!???  How are we supposed to give a lecture in a 1400 seat hall without any type of sound system?  There isn’t even WIRING in place for a sound system.  HOW THE HELL DID THEY DO THE INAUGURATION HERE?

Answer: AUC rented all of the equipment from a 3rd party source.

When is Bassily going to GET the equipment for giving lectures?
“UHHH, we don’t know, the campus is over budget.  It won’t be this semester.”

OK – <breathe> – then we need budget authorization to rent all the equipment from the 3rd party company, twice a week until the end of the semester.

“That seems like a fine solution – go ahead.”

WHAT!!?? Can you say “Penny wise and pound foolish”  Oh well, bottom line is that I get what I need for my class.  <WHEW> Catastrophe avoided.

Or not…

This week was the first time for us to get into Bassily Hall.  I was all atwitter to have the big hall.  Think of how much easier seating, attendance, and “riding herd” on the students will be when we can give each section a specific seating area that does not overlap with other sections!

I double checked with my secretary about the equpiment delivery, figured out seating for each section, made seating charts and went to Bassily to make sure everything was ready for the lecture.  And what to my wondering eyes should appear when I walked into Bassily Hall?  A tiny portable projection screen (you know the ones, your grandparents had them to show family movies on.  They fold up and stand in the front closet.  About 1.5 meters square – maybe) and a desktop projector.  FOR A 1400 SEAT AUDITORIUM.

I nearly had an aneurysm.

After my tirade in English to the equipment vendor, who spoke only Arabic, and frantic phone calls, and an Arabic tirade from my friend and close colleague, we settled what would be needed for Wednesday.

The lecture occurred with the tiny screen, an incredibly calm speaker who kept telling me, “Malesh, all will be fine” and a bunch of very confused students.

Wednesday was better – equipment wise, but Egypt happened in that lecture too.  That is for another post.


  1. I think that whomever is in charge of the equipping rooms with AV equipment should be very happy that you’re not a violent person.

    Comment by Typ0 — February 19, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

  2. I can’t wait for the follow-up post. Would it by chance have something to do with logic and assumptions???

    Comment by Joanne — February 24, 2009 @ 2:55 am

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