Left-handed Israeli students fight for their right to sit in comfort
Southpaw students demand adequate seating in college classrooms.
Every left-handed student knows the drill upon entering a classroom - a quick search for a left-handed desk and a desperate scramble to grab one. These efforts are often unsuccessful, leaving the student stuck with a right-handed chair in which he is forced to bend forward and arch to the right to reach the desk surface with his left hand.
A group of students from the College of Management Academic Studies has launched a campaign requesting the school's administration rectify the situation, under the slogan "left-handed people also deserve to sit in comfort."
Members of the group entered a few classrooms on the institution's Rishon Letzion campus last week and removed all the right-handed desks, leaving behind only those made to accommodate left-handed people.
They also wrote the following on the classroom blackboards: "How does it feel not having a place to sit?"
"We received favorable responses. The maintenance workers were a little angry about the mess, but altogether we won support," said Dotan Felzen, one of the group's leaders.
"Being left-handed never bothered me until I came to college," Felzen added. "Since becoming a student here, I usually can't find a suitable seat, and this has resulted in back pain. The greatest challenge comes during tests, because even if there is a suitable seat - it's too close to your neighbor's and you have to keep them apart. It's very frustrating."
Members of the group joined forces in a communications workshop offered at the college, where they were asked to find an example of social injustice and run a media campaign to draw attention to it. Students who had taken this course in the past became involved in groups like Let the Animals Live, the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving and the Rape Crisis Center.
A number of students, including some right-handed ones, decided to focus on the inadequate seating situation. The college was surprised to find the students' criticism directed toward the management.
"It may have started as an exercise, but we're dealing with a real problem that bothers students," one college official said yesterday.
The protest against the shortage of left-handed desks began last year, when communications student Ayelet Reinman wrote to the school administration to complain about the left-handed seats being lined up along the wall on one side of the class.
From this position it is harder to see the lecturer or the screen, compared to seats in the middle, she complained.
"I find it difficult to write on the right-handed desk," Reinman wrote. "I deserve the same conditions as all the other students, even if I'm the only left-handed student inconvenienced by the situation."
The management responded that "the number of left-handed seats in the classrooms is in keeping with the standard."
As about 15 percent of the population is left-handed, the management's reply angered the students, who after counting the desks in 20 campus classrooms, found that only about five percent accommodate left-handed students. The group also wants to expand its activity to other academic institutions.
The College of Management Academic Studies responded: "Over the years numerous students have acted as part of the communication school's workshop for various associations. This time a group of students chose to raise the issue of left-handed chairs at Israeli colleges, including ours. As per required standards, 10 percent of the seats in each classroom are earmarked for left-handed people. However, we are pleased that students are raising concerns and acting to improve the situation."