Have you ever experienced something so asinine that you wondered how it became a reality? At times there seems to be such a disconnect between logic and action that it inspires wonder.
This wonder is the first thing that comes to mind when sitting down at the small, rotating arm desks which can be found in many Bellevue College classrooms. With hardly room for more than a small notebook, it is a common occurrence around campus for students to drop books, pens, phones, drinks, and even laptops due to not only the small size, but also the lack of stability on these work surfaces.
There are even multiple stories around campus of students tipping over while trying to scoot the desks in classrooms. To make matters worse, the desks are manufactured for either left-handed or right-handed students, so not just any student can sit at any desk. The legs are springy and the desk surfaces flex with more than 10 pounds of pressure. When you sit down, they feel more like a children’s toy than a tool used to educate adults.
These desks inspire a lot of emotions. First, it is hard not to laugh and wonder how these came to be in our classrooms. You sit down, feel silly, perhaps even giggle and glance around the room. Then the confusion strikes. You look at your peers balancing in these ludicrously small desks. These are the desks we pay thousands of dollars for the privilege to sit at? How much money is really saved by purchasing children’s desks? Then the anger starts to creep up. How much are we spending on our education? How are classrooms assigned and why do some students get to use the large comfortable desks with stable chairs? Then the sadness. The acceptance. Well, these are the desks for this class. This is the new reality for the next ten weeks.
Thankfully, the subject matter of BC’s classes pulls students from the emotional roller coaster that these desks sent them on, and the students make the inadequate desks work. Students do what they need to: putting coffee and calculator on the floor, notebook on top of laptop, which is stacked on a textbook, and then using an idle hand to keep the whole pile from sliding to the ground.
Who bought these desks? Why on earth did they think that they were a good idea? Information was not readily available on the BC website or by visiting a few offices around campus. Similarly, Bellevue College Capital Projects did not respond to an inquiry from the Watchdog staff. A quick Google search shows you can purchase a similar desk for $30 as a consumer, and as cheap as $7.10 each when purchasing in bulk from Alibaba.
We may not have all the answers, but we do have one thing: hope. We hope that BC is not continuing to purchase these desks. We hope that BC is actively replacing them, and working on phasing them out. We hope that next time our tuition dollars are spent on new furniture for our campus, the powers that be will purchase furniture for adults. Most of all, we hope that none of our classes next semester will have these desks.