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The desk chair and the rear: A dormitory war

Dorm room chair
Photo Credit: Ivy Truong / The Daily Princetonian

I am sitting at my desk in my dorm, attempting to work on yet another lab assignment, when it begins again — a war, which ensues almost daily, between my posterior and my desk chair. 

It is a known fact to anyone who has attempted to get work done while sitting in one that the dorm desk chairs do not do a good job at the one thing that is expected from a desk chair: being a comfortable place to sit, which would allow the user to get their work done. 


First commences the squirming from left to right, combined with the shifting and twisting of legs that inevitably occurs because you are basically wedged between the desk and the chair itself. 

Then comes the fidgeting, the alternating between leaning back and forward until finally a pain begins to creep its way up your spinal cord to your neck from the awkward strain you’re putting on your body.

Eventually, you think better of attempting to feign productivity by sitting at the desk. You either leave to find a more suitable place to study or just give up altogether and climb into bed, laptop in hand, to continue working on the assignment you had initially set out to complete. 

The lack of a comfortable place for your rear end is only one of the pitfalls of the dorm chair — practically all of us can recount horror stories of near-death experiences from almost toppling over while trying to get work done. 

OK — maybe “near-death” is an exaggeration, but I think we can all agree that there is that moment when your life flashes before your eyes as you tip backwards, a feeling that our particular desk chairs seem to specialize in.   

The sheer number of ways that one can be brought down by the enemy, the chairs, is ghastly — either they proceed to attack head on, by going for the rear and the back and simply giving pain to its user, or they go for a more stealthy attack, waiting patiently for their target to get distracted by the task at hand before leaning slightly back, eventually resulting in the user being thrown across the floor.


Or, if you happen to be clumsy, like me, you have probably received a blow to the toe on more than one occasion, brought on by how awkwardly the chairs fit into their designated spots in the desks. 

Jokes aside, the chairs apparently can be quite dangerous — the other day, I overheard a tour guide using an anecdote to describe the joys of residential life and the convenient usefulness of McCosh to her gaggle of tourists. She animatedly told the tale of how she had a friend who received a concussion, caused by a stealth maneuver that threw her back onto the floor. 

An interesting way to advertise McCosh, sure, but even bigger proof of one of the biggest struggles between student and dorm, and the nefarious source of it all: the chair. 

Many of us can probably vouch for the fact that this war between our posteriors and desk chairs on campus is quite real. It often results in many avoiding the chairs, either due to the simple discomfort that comes from sitting on them or from fear of potentially breaking our behinds from accidents. 

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How do we fight back in this war? Well, being that it’s against an inanimate object (supposedly, though it does sometimes seem like they’re out to get us), there is very little that can be done. 

Perhaps an effort to find what way of sitting is most favorable for your particular hindquarters would help, or investing in some comfier alternatives to deck out your dorm. 

Ideally, entirely new chairs would be the best solution to the problem — what better way to fight against the enemy than to eliminate it entirely? 

The allied chair would definitely have some comfy cushioning, to support the rear whilst studying. It would fit perfectly in the allocated space for our desk chairs. It could maybe even swivel, an element that would likely keep us engaged for a longer period of time, because, frankly speaking, it’s more fun to sit in a chair that spins while you’re sitting in it. 

Most importantly, the allied chair would have a very important component, that should be present in every chair: balance

The University has considered changing up the dorm furniture, which could potentially lead to new chairs. Bringing allied chairs to University dorms would bring on a slew of benefits. Student productivity would likely increase, our desks would become more like actual study spots as opposed to places for storing random papers that take up space, and most of all, the accidents and injuries sustained to our behinds would decrease a great amount.  

But in the meantime, the war between rear end and chair will continue on in our efforts to frantically finish our assignments from the “comfort” of our rooms. 

Perhaps it’s yet another rite of passage for Princetonians. You haven’t truly experienced residential life if you haven’t awakened with an ache in your bottom and back, brought on from your toils the night before to finish an assignment or study for an exam and the ensuing battle between your rump and the enemy, your desk chair.