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In Defense Of: Rocking Desk Chairs

On the Princeton website, the housing department proudly announces that every room, no matter how big or how small, must be furnished with “one bed and mattress requiring extra-long sheets," for Princeton must accommodate the extra-long people, "one dresser, one desk and one chair for each person in the room.” You may note that Housing does not specify the type of chair you’re going to get. Princeton dorm furnishings are like a box of chocolates — you think you've sunk your teeth into a decadent caramel milk chocolate of a lounge chair, until you realize you're chewing on the raspberry nougat monstrosity of a quirkily-designed rocking chair.

Princeton's administration, disregarding the vocal majority of undergrads who regard regular chairs to be just fine, has forged ahead with these awkward geometric constructions and distributed them by the thousands across campus. But never fear — there are three practical reasons why rocking chairs are an excellent investment for the welfare of the student population and will be for years to come.

Reason #1. They prepare us for a post-slouching world.


From the leather “knights-of-the-round-table” style chair in Whitman Dining Hall, to the 1950s easy chairs of East Pyne, to the uber-sexy IKEA models offered at Lewis Library, Princeton has more varieties of chairs than there are brands of cough syrup at CVS. As a result of this seating smorgasbord, the administration has discovered that Princeton students are slouching at all hours of the day — affecting spinal curvatures and Wall Street interview etiquette alike! Envisioning a population of stooped-over, average-income-earning Princetonians, the Department of Furniture Development designed thousands of upright, semi-rocking desk chairs to combat this epidemic. Sidebar — did you know that when he wasn't discovering electricity, founding UPenn (good lord) and being on the $100-bill, Benjamin Franklin was inventing the rocking chair? Created with rounded bands that naturally rock the chair's occupant back and forth, these colonial creations allow billions of old people worldwide today to sit back and relax. Of course, Princeton's rocking chairs seem to have the opposite effect. Which leads us to our next point:

Reason #2: They're not even real rocking chairs, guys.

Real rocking chairs exist for you to sit on the porch and sip lemonade with Great Auntie Edith. They reinforce the image of summertime and easy living. Real rocking chairs have a curved base that aligns to a person’s center of gravity, allowing one to pleasantly ease into a position of gentle motion and balance.

Princeton rocking chairs, on the other hand, are a thrilling roller coaster of a contraption. The back end of their legs angle up sharply, so every rock backward is accompanied by a jolt that sends fear tingling down the spines of each undergraduate. Every time a student might attempt to slouch or drift off during those endless classics readings, that student experiences a violent shaking that hits at least 0.2 on the Richter scale. Thus, Princeton’s deviant rocking chairs keep us alert and cowering in fear, but mostly ready to get back to work.

Reason #3: Rocking chairs help you unwind — in ways that defy the laws of physics.

Finally, Princeton’s rocking chairs serve as coping mechanisms for the ongoing pressures of everyday life. They’re life-sized stress balls. Just when you think that all hope is lost after tanking that philosophy paper or bombing a midterm — you can lean back, and lean forward, and lean back again in an endless, furious pendulum, all while stuffing your face with the mounds of candy you swiped from that study break. A rocking chair purist might state that you have missed the point of rocking chairs, that they are designed to soothe the nerves with a calm and even rocking motion. But only a Princeton student could understand the pacifying effect of pounding one's chair into the floor over and over again until it has worn grooves into the floor. Beat that, Great Auntie Edith!


To conclude:Princeton's rocking desk chairs improve our posture, engage us in thrilling risk-taking and relieve our stress. And let's be real — they do beat the heck out of folding chairs.

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