My original title for this blog post was “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love?” When I first saw a picture of the new desk chairs in Langdon 300, I thought I had most certainly fallen in love. The photo suggested that the new chairs would be more accommodating to students of all sizes. Over lunch, I gushed about how wonderful these new chairs were to my colleague Jeanne Clark. She, however, was unconvinced, neither of us having seen nor sat in them, and suggested we trek over to Langdon and give the chairs a try. What we discovered is that the chairs are a significant improvement upon the ones currently in use in most classrooms on campus. The desks on the chair swivel, allowing larger students to sit more comfortably in the chairs. However, if you are of a larger build, such as I am, the tablet will not close flush with the body, but you can position the desk in such ways that you are still able to take notes by hand. (Using a notebook computer or tablet might prove a little challenging if you cannot get the desk to close across your lap area.)
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010 approximately 36% of the population are considered overweight and another 25% are considered obese. Therefore, it would follow that a significant portion of our student population would be overweight or obese. Click here for full report. Creating a more inclusive campus climate (Priority #6) means, in this instance, that we cannot continue to acquire furniture with a one size fits all mindset. MTV aired a reality tv show last fall entitled “Chelsea Settles.” The show follows a 23-year-old woman who has just graduated from fashion school and is looking to break into the fashion industry. The problem is she weighs 325 pounds. During one of her confessionals, Chelsea shares that she would arrive to class an hour early each day so that she could try all of the chairs until she found one that fit. At twenty-three, having to face the daunting task of finding a chair to sit in during class probably would have been the source of tremendous anguish for me. I shudder to think we may have students who have to experience the shame and embarrassment that attends their not being able to sit comfortably in the desks.
During our walk back to Taylor Hall, I asked Jeanne how she would rate the desk chairs on a scale of one to five, with one being the lowest and five the highest. Her response: a three out of five. To give some perspective here, Jeanne rated the current chairs a one out of five. The desks do a wonderful job of accommodating left-handed students, unless they are of a larger build; in which case, it seems they are without a tablet at all. I loved that the chairs swiveled, allowing students to easily break into groups for collaborative, student-centered learning activities. We both agreed that progress has been made. Alas, the search continues.
Photo courtesy of Denise Crosswhite, Associated Students Government