This Cushion Is Ecstasy, But How Can I Learn If I’m Broke?


Published: February 12, 2009

If you count them up, there are about six different kinds of desks at this college, and every single one is incredibly uncomfortable. There’s your standard, orange-seated, processed wood numbers. I call those the “rump-scorchers.” There are the ones in room 524 that are angled so far forward that your notebook is bound to slide off your desk at least three times a class period. And my personal favorite: the twisty ones on the third floor. I’ll admit they’re actually kind of fun, but it’s embarrassing when you try to explain to the person sitting next to you that you didn’t have beans for lunch, your chair just needs a little WD40. Even the seats in Pope are terrible. I thought “The Rover” was a great show, but was it worth the resulting week of fanny fatigue? I’m not sure.

Many students were surprised by the addition of new class chairs. (Alex Palomino/The Observer)

So a couple of months ago, when I walked into class one morning and found the old rump-scorchers replaced with sleek, space-age desks, I was excited. They were folded up in neat rows, poised to open us up to a whole new world of academic pursuit. With these babies, intellectual growth wouldn’t be hard, plastic and Jesuit; instead, it would be plush, foam-filled and Jesuit. With their icy blue cushions, jet-black backrests and sexy chrome legs and casters, they looked gorgeous.

If you look closely, you’ll find that they are called the Torsion On the Go chair, and they are made by KI Furnishing Technology. According to the manufacturer’s Web site, they aren’t cheap. I counted 62 chairs in room 523 alone. That’s a lot of money, especially with those chrome casters Fordham sprung for. So I have to ask: is this really the best use of Fordham’s resources? If Fordham wants to flash some cash, why didn’t they use that money to buy some cool stuff instead of some dopey chairs? Personally, I’d prefer a Jacuzzi on the roof of McMahon, a sauna in our “world class” fitness center and an oxygen bar in the cafeteria. Now that sounds relaxing. But seriously, in this economy, buying fancy, new desks that aren’t even comfortable is just a waste of money. Couldn’t that be cash that could go into more scholarships? Or maybe lower the tuition price a little? Wouldn’t that be something? How about some healthier food from Sodexho or making the student center more than a glorified classroom? Even the slightest improvement to the elevators would be a welcome use of resources.

The fact is, I’m a senior. By now, I’m used to the rump-scorchers, the tilters and the twisters. I’ve actually grown to kind of like them, and being from New England, I respect their Yankee “screw-you-buddy” ethos. After all, doesn’t a little discomfort build character? I think as a student body, we can put up with chairs without cushions or annoying casters in exchange for a little off the top of tuition or a few more scholarships. I saw the ads during the Super Bowl; you can’t get through a day without being reminded how tough these times are. Even with a college degree from a respectable university like Fordham, you are by no means guaranteed a decent job after graduation. That’s not a reassuring thought, particularly for seniors.

Yeah, the hot look of these new chairs really pulls together the whole aesthetic of the sixth floor: flat screen TVs, Times Square-esque news ticker, rich mahogany paneling. But it doesn’t take Career Services to tell you the job market looks better with a master’s or a law degree compared to a BA in Medieval Studies. Still, even a diploma in Sanskrit is more likely to get you a job compared to no degree at all, but these days, a lot of people simply don’t have the means to pay for a college education. I’m not saying Fordham isn’t proactive about giving financial aid, but how much tuition is wrapped up in casters and cushions for room 523 alone? I like the chairs, but if it meant a few more people getting a college degree, I say we could all sit on the floor.