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Butt Battle in McCosh Hall

<h6>Photo Credit: Lazarena Lazarova</h6>
Photo Credit: Lazarena Lazarova

Whether it’s the chairs or my behind, one of them needs to go. Twice a week I sit in McCosh Hall 28 and attempt to listen to an ostensibly fascinating lecture, but inevitably I spend the hour fidgeting in discomfort. I hunt desperately for something soft to sit on: a jacket, a scarf, a binder, another person, anything! In warmer months, I often forget to bring sufficient protection and end up perching on my laptop case. 

To be candid, my backside is flat and ill-padded. Last year, a friend caught me singing along to “Cake” by Rihanna, a song more focused on shapely rear ends than traditional dessert, and she chided, “Sweetie, that song isn’t for you.” I replaced the word “cake” with the word “pancake,” and she nodded gravely, satisfied with the veracity of my new rendition.


I endeavored to rectify the situation by doing squats, but I found them so miserable that I ultimately opted to embrace my bony, shapeless caboose as it is. A stride forward in body positivity, perhaps, but a debilitating blow in the crusade against insufficient lecture accommodations. 

Clearly, I am not guiltless in this cataclysmic confrontation between sitting bones and McCosh chairs. Yet, though many of my ampler readers may laugh at my soreness, blaming my aches solely on my deficient posterior, I assure you it is not all my fault!

McCosh Hall, ringing in at one-hundred-and-eleven years old, is an architectural gem on campus. With high gothic archways, flying buttresses, and expansive windows, it stands out as a tourist attraction and integral component of Princeton’s facade. It houses most of the English department and looks like a fitting home for those who love to read, contemplate the complexities of life, and bask in the beauty of the world. 

Yet, despite the building’s aesthetic success, the structure, like many products of the early twentieth century, is categorically flawed. Just as the Titanic had its unfortunate run in with the iceberg, the steam-powered car receded into obscurity, and radium water was removed from the medical lexicon, the chairs in McCosh Hall must go. They are tragically misguided remnants of a past era hurdling towards extinction.  

Sure, the chairs are pretty, with their carved dark wood and wrought metal handles secured to small desks so dainty that one can barely fit an agenda, let alone a laptop, on top of it. They stand in rows, nailed to the floor, austere and in perfect harmony with the construction surrounding them. 

But, lovely as they look, the wood is just plain hard and sitting on it for more than ten minutes just plain hurts. To remedy the situation, I propose furnishing these seats with some tasteful, supportive liners. Whether tied onto the chairs, casually placed upon them, or drilled into the seats themselves, I have no preference. Any cushion will do so long as it is soft and comfortable. With only this small effort, both the hall’s artistic integrity and the well-being of the members of the student population, who lack their own personal padding, will be preserved. 


This charge may be minute, and the University undoubtedly has better things upon which to spend its money than some measly chair covers, but it is nonetheless a widespread and consistent irritation meriting redress. So, for my own sake and for that of my scantily-buttocked brethren, I publicly submit this complaint, hoping that the fates of the students will prevail over those of the tortuous wooden seats. If this request is rejected or ignored, I do solemnly pledge to give squats another try. 

Noa Wollstein is at a sophomore from Plainview, N.Y. She can be reached at noaw@princeton.edu.

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