You’re sitting in a Meredith Hall lecture room, trying to take notes on the day’s lesson. But you’re frustrated. While others around you can write with ease, taking advantage of the desks attached to the right side of their chairs, you have to struggle to put yourself in an awkward position so you can write with your left hand. You think all Drake Bulldogs have equal opportunities in the classroom? Try telling that to the left-handed students.
Normally, many people don’t set left-handed students (fondly referred to as “lefties”) apart from the general population. You can’t easily pick them out of a crowd walking across campus or eating in Hubbell. Even in the classroom, they’re more difficult to spot. However, their presence is small and mighty.
Currently, the largest problem that lefties face at Drake is concerned with “lecture desks,” wooden seats with a tablet desk attached to the right side only. Commonly found in large lecture halls, these desks are smaller and have the capability to fit more students into a larger space. However, they do nothing to accommodate the needs of left-handed students who have to position themselves differently in order to write.
“They’re very inconvenient,” said first-year lefty Kaity Dowd.
Head Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication David Wright pointed out that computers pose another issue.
“In the computer labs, the mice for the computers are always placed on the right side,” Wright said. “Many of them have locks so they are difficult to move.”
Taking notes in class also has its challenges.
“When I have to write something in pencil, the lead smudges all over the paper,” said Michael Edwards, a first-year left-handed student. “It creates problems for legibility. It’s so terrible.”
Some right-handed students don’t understand all the fuss.
“Left-handed students are just like any other people,” said sophomore Ahn-ton Dang.
Drake has taken steps to narrow the gap between left-handed and right-handed students in the classroom. A majority of halls have changed their seating to include standard and conference-style tables, a maneuver that has won favor with lefties.
“The longer tables, like in Meredith Hall’s smaller classrooms, work well for me,” Edwards said.
Some professors also provide alternatives to lecture-style seating.
“I offer an alternative table up front for the lefties so they have room to write during exams,” Wright said.
But the lecture desks still exist, a symbol of the disadvantages lefties face in a world skewed toward right-handedness.
Wright agrees, adding, “Those desks are noisy, obnoxious and collapse at the worst times during tests. [The lecture halls] will probably be the last rooms to be upgraded. It’s a pretty substantial undertaking.”
Lefties have taken these struggles and adapted them into their everyday routines. Sure, it can be a pain to write in an awkward position while sitting in a lecture desk, or to constantly bump into a right-handed person’s arm when writing. But for lefties, it’s another part of life, one that some lefties do not consider bad.
“I like being left-handed,” Edwards said. “It sets me apart from the majority of people. It’s a defining feature of my character.”