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Kuhelika Ghosh: Left-handed students are hindered by lack of accommodating desks

Five out of about 40 desks in Mathematical Sciences 5137 are designed for left-handed students. While this number may seem small, it is more than in most classrooms, which offer no left-handed desks, forcing students to contort their bodies while writing notes. (Korbin Placet/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Kuhelika Ghosh

April 7, 2016 11:46 p.m.

Left-handed students at UCLA often have to sit through the entire quarter bearing the pain of having their arm resting on air for two hours straight while they write notes.

This is due to the fact that most classrooms across UCLA lack left-handed desks, despite the fact that about 10 percent of the population of students are left-handed. The issue is especially prevalent in some of UCLA’s most recognizable buildings – including Haines, Bunche, Young, and Rolfe.

As of now, UCLA does have some plans for renovating these classrooms. In an email statement, a representative from Facilities Management said, “Classroom seating is an area we are currently evaluating and we are planning on replacing seating in approximately eight to 10 classrooms every year.”

However, at this current rate, it will take an extremely long time for all classrooms to have an adequate number of left-handed desks. Considering how basic of a need this is, we cannot expect students to get good grades when they are not even able to write properly in class due to such a primary concern. In order to remedy this, the process of renovating classrooms must be sped up and completed within the next two years in order to put present and future left-handed students at ease.

This isn’t just an issue of comfort. This has biological implications. According to the Handedness Research Institute, if a left-handed writer sits at a desk meant for right-handed people, the student must twist around in a contorted posture in order to be able to write properly. Weeks of sitting in such a posture makes the student susceptible to back, neck and shoulder pain.

Additionally, the constant discomfort presents left-handed students with a frustrating environment that is not conducive to learning. At a prestigious institution such as UCLA, it is a disgrace that left-handed students have to suffer disadvantages for something they have no control over.

For many left-handed students, this is a daily experience. Christina Loussinian, a second-year psychobiology student, said if she does not want to write at a right-handed desk, she puts her notebook on her lap and writes on it, which leads to a lot of chaos so she finds it difficult to concentrate.

Education shouldn’t have to be this painful for left-handed students at UCLA.

To be fair, steps have been taken to improve this situation. Classrooms in Dodd Hall have been recently installed with new ergonomic chairs that accommodate left- and right-handed students.

But if it took a year to renovate Dodd’s classrooms, one can only imagine how long it will take to renovate bigger buildings such as Bunche and Rolfe. This group of left-handed students must have their own rights too and measures must be undertaken now, not at their current lazy pace.

Facilities Management added in the statement that there is a left-handed tablet arm in classrooms with fixed seating; this is not good enough because four buildings, and possibly more, at UCLA have classrooms with loose seats that are only suitable for right-handed students.

But many of the students I spoke with said they never look for a left-handed desk at this point. It is a shame that left-handed students at UCLA have given up hope on trying to find left-handed desks in their classes. Their education is just as important as that of right-handed students and they deserve to have a proper desk to sit at, instead of sacrificing their comfort for the purpose of education.

One left-handed student, Alexei Christodoulides, a second-year molecular, cellular and developmental biology student, said, “It’s just annoying because 10 percent of the population is left-handed but I don’t see 10 percent of desks in most classes being left-handed.”

Left-handed students all over UCLA contort their bodies in impossible ways while sitting at right-handed desks in order to take down the necessary notes for their classes, and this is not acceptable. We need more left-handed desks in UCLA classrooms and we need them now.

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Kuhelika Ghosh | Features & Student Life editor
Ghosh is the assistant news editor for the Features & Student Life beat. She covers features on UCLA students, faculty and staff, obituaries, events on campus, Greek life and the Hill. She was previously a Features & Student Life news contributor and an opinion columnist.
Ghosh is the assistant news editor for the Features & Student Life beat. She covers features on UCLA students, faculty and staff, obituaries, events on campus, Greek life and the Hill. She was previously a Features & Student Life news contributor and an opinion columnist.
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