Desks in academic buildings are inaccessible for many students, changes needed

By Riley Dauber

Opinion Editor

 With classes in full swing, many students and professors have noticed the uncomfortable chairs and desks in the classrooms on campus.

The chairs and desks come in many different combinations. Some rooms have long tables with separate chairs, while others have chair-and-desk combinations, where the desktops are small and immovable.

Perhaps the worst offender on campus is room 201 in Louis L. Goldstein Hall. The desks are noticeably inaccessible and uncomfortable.

Dr. Rachel Rodriguez, the director of the writing center on campus, teaches a first-year seminar class in the room.

“Those chairs are difficult for many of our students. They’re very small and difficult to sit in and difficult to get comfortable in,” she said.

Each plastic red chair is equipped with a small desktop. The chair-desk combos are pushed close together in an attempt to fit as many in the tight room as possible, making it difficult to maneuver to one’s seat. When students get up to use the bathroom, they are bound to either step on a students’ belongings or stumble while climbing out of the desk.

For taller students, the desks may be at an unhelpful height, causing one to lean over their notebooks and stretch out their legs in order to be comfortable during class.

“Goldstein 201 has the worst desks. The room is small, and the desks feel like they are stacked on top of each other,” sophomore Precieux Tshibangu said.

Plus-size students may also have trouble with these chairs because the desk tops do not provide much space to sit comfortably. They cut into midsections, or the seat may not be wide enough.

For students who are both tall and plus-size, these desks are a nightmare.

Another issue with the desks in the academic buildings is that it is difficult to move them for group projects or partner work. Professors encourage their students to discuss ideas during class, and there’s often an awkward moment where students glance at each other and wonder who they’re going to work with and how they will move their desks.

The red plastic chair-desk combos are the worst to move because they snag on the carpet, and the desk tops are an obstacle that one must lean against in order to converse with other students.

Since students are spending a large portion of their day in class, it is important for the chairs and desks to be comfortable and accessible for all. Unfortunately, in some classrooms on campus, this is not the case. Switching classrooms due to a large class size is a temporary solution; changing or buying new furniture would leave a positive and lasting impact on campus.

“The furniture in the room does affect the ability to do different things in the classroom because we’re not quite able to move the furniture around. So it certainly has an effect on your pedagogy,” Dr. Rodriguez said.

When it comes to the classrooms on campus, it is most helpful when the furniture is easy to move. Many of the rooms possess a large amount of desks and excess furniture, while others have chairs and desks with wheels on the bottom so students and professors can move them.

“If we’re really going to talk as a campus about inclusivity and being a welcoming environment, then we need to think not just about how students feel emotionally, but how they feel physically,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “We want students to feel physically comfortable and ready to learn and not self-conscious in our classrooms about something that doesn’t need to be learning related at all. So, the more we can do to help students feel comfortable and ready to learn, no matter where they’re coming from, that’s an easy solution.”

Photo courtesy of Katie Tack

Photo Caption: The desks in many of the academic buildings on campus are uncomfortable for students of different heights and body types, making it difficult to work on assignments during class.

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