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Student desks vary in size throughout classrooms

Heather Buchanan

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Britton Rogers, a senior majoring in history, has experience in both history and biology classrooms.

“The desks in the lecture halls [for biology courses] were auditorium style with a tiny fold-out desk,” Rogers said. “This was adequate for what the class required. There was not much writing, and laptops fit easily on the small pocket desks.”

Many lecture halls in buildings like Shelby Hall give a student roughly 2.5 square feet of desk space.

When Rogers switched departments to study history, she was less than satisfied with the average desk size she found in her classes.

Most of the desks in ten Hoor Hall, which houses the history department, have just one square foot of writing space. Rogers said the amount is not 
sufficient for writing-intensive courses, like history.

“These desks have made it hard to write essays because when I am writing say, a final, I like to write an outline before beginning my essay,” he said. “With such a small desk on the right side of my chair, it is impossible to have my outline next to my exam book. I believe that this hinders my ability to write well, as well as taking away from the time given for the essay.”

Cathy Andreen, director of media relations at the University, said the equipment found in university classrooms depends highly on the demands of the courses taught there.

“Decisions about classroom equipment, including desks, are based on the needs of the courses that will be taught in those classrooms,” 
Andreen said.

Cecilia King, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering, said her experience with desks in engineering classes has been a positive one.

“Most classrooms in engineering buildings have large desks, more like long tables shared between two students,” King said. “Engineers need bigger desks because they often work in-class problems, which require multiple books, papers, calculators, erasers on the desk at once. Tests are also sometimes open book or open note. There are a lot of things [engineering students] have to reference while solving a problem.”

Rogers said she thinks increased enrollment may play a role in choosing smaller desks for some classrooms. She said she also believes the needs of the students in those classrooms should be considered.

“I think that the University, with its growing student population, needs the desks that will take up the least amount of room and allow more students to be in a classroom,” she said. “However, I hope that desks will be designed for a more multipurpose use, such as writing long essays in history classes.”

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Student desks vary in size throughout classrooms