Dear President Bruce Shepard,

The lounge in Miller Market has a variety of options for seating. There are the padded sofas surrounding the coffee tables for casual conversation, the chairs surrounding the tables for eating or studying, then there is the high barstool seating. This allows the room to be used for multiple purposes, creating a welcoming environment for many students to utilize on a daily basis.

Take a Seat

Although the lounge in Miller Market had a complete remodel just a few years ago, and is a frequently used and comfortable space, improvements could be made with just a small change. The idea of having the high tables and chairs was a good one for they aren’t very common on campus. However these chairs have one big issue, there is essentially no back to them, creating a lack of support. This is a nuisance when trying to get work done.

As college students, we spend a majority of our time sitting. Whether that be in class, while studying or eating, it’s apparent that we spend a large portion of our days sedentary (refer to graph below). This sedentary lifestyle we live due to the devotion to school is a stressor on our bodies and leads to problems regarding our health, specifically posture. There are a lot of health problems that arise due to poor posture, “Without good posture, your overall health and total efficiency may be compromised. Because the long-term effects of poor posture can affect bodily systems (such as digestion, elimination, breathing, muscles, joints and ligaments), a person who has poor posture may often be tired or unable to work efficiently or move properly” (Kansas Chiropractic Foundation). It can be suggested that students should be practicing proper posture in order to work at maximum efficiency. Although proper posture is something students must be conscious about and practice on their own, having chairs that are comfortable and help aid students in sitting up right will make a difference.

*Data not representative due to the small sample size of only 20 students. Most students were of junior/senior standing and spend a majority of their day studying. A larger poll would be necessary in order to draw reasonable conclusions and be representative of the entire population.

Alternative contributors to the development of poor posture, besides sitting without proper support, is the prolonged use of computers and frequent carrying of heavy loads, such as backpacks. These are both required by most students on a daily basis. I personally purchase hard copies of my textbooks rather than opt for an online version for I don’t retain the information as well when reading an online text. This makes my backpack incredibly heavy. I also have to carry extra notebooks. If I could, I would take all my notes on my laptop. Instead I have three separate notebooks because professors have told me that I can’t type up my notes for the temptation of the internet is too irresistible.

Since it’s rare to see students without a laptops these days for almost everything is done online. A solution could be to buy a lighter laptop, but when I searched “best lightweight laptops” and found a detailed list created by Gear Patrol of “The 10 Best Lightweight Laptops,” it was apparent that a light laptop means a hefty price tag. This is a costly solution that most students can’t afford. Since we all can’t afford to purchase new laptops, compensation for the sacrifices we make by lugging around heavy backpacks through the purchase of new chairs would not go unappreciated.

If new chairs were to be put in the furniture wouldn’t go unused. Sometimes the only open spots are the barstools and many walk right past them because they are aware of the discomfort they cause. Another benefit is the health of students, something that the university should be concerned about. The discomfort of the chairs leaves you adjusting constantly eventually leaving you in an awkward position not sitting properly, “When the body is slouched and constricted, it prevents it from working optimally which results in a poor mood” (Grickej, Peter). Being a poor mood can affect every aspect in your life. If we have students going throughout the day in a poor mood it’s going to impact their school work, social lives and their own well being.

Support the Students

The motto of Western is “Active Minds Changing Lives,” how can we achieve this with the crippling side effects of poor posture. We want our student body to be as happy, healthy and productive as possible. No student is going to want to attend a school where the students well being isn’t among top priorities. The student body is the biggest advocate for prospective students. You don’t want students putting out the word that the places they spend their time is uncomfortable and doesn’t make for a productive workplace. That is why it is in everyone’s best interest to change out the current chairs for ones that are much more comfortable and supportive.

A Small Price to Pay

Comfort and practicality were not taken into consideration when purchasing these barstools but rather an aesthetic appeal. The surface of the seat is rather small, one slight move and you might topple over. When you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, you want to use a chair with firm low back support. How can a chair that has almost no back to it provide that? I believe this lounge would be even better if these barstools were replaced due to their lack of practicality. The current chairs in the lounge should be replaced by ones that encourage better posture for they can add some needed relief to many students. There are eight bar stools in the lounge, replacing them would be a small investment. You would spend less money on eight chairs that serve the entire school than you would on a lightweight laptop for one student. Pictured below is a barstool you might consider. This particular barstool has a similar appearance to the current wooden ones. With a curved back and cushioned seat, students would be relieved to be sitting here because of the (apparent) comfort and support they provide. They are priced at $164.64 for a set of two. With free shipping and $20 off your first order, you would be paying $638.56. This is a small price to pay for the comfort of our students.

Potential new chairs from Yourbarstool.com

I do acknowledge that with purchasing cushioned leather seats they are more susceptible to wear and tear than the wooden stools. However, there’s already a large amount of upholstered seating on campus. You can’t expect that a school serving 15,000 people will never need its furniture to be replaced.

Another valid reason to turn down the request for new chairs would simply be that the current ones are fairly new. In reality, there is nothing actually wrong with the chairs. It is being requested that they be replaced simply for comfort and health reasons. The chairs are functional, just not practical. There’s no valid reason to dispose perfecting functioning furniture. Perhaps there is a place on campus that is less frequently used that could use some new chairs, that way they don’t completely go to waste.

To avoid this issue in the future, the university could ask for its students input in regards to upgrades on campus. This is something that I have both participated in and witnessed. The students are the ones who are going to be using the furniture the most, therefore their input is the most valuable. Having the students test out a few options before making investments can save both time and money in the instance that problems arise with the decisions that are made.

Call to Action

On behalf of the entire student body, I ask that you look into this request. Having chairs that are more comfortable and provide better support will improve morale. Good posture is important for preventing health problems increasing one’s mood. Have your students walking around, heads held high and spines perfectly aligned rather than slumped and lacking oxygen.

Sources:

Kansas Chiropractic Foundation. “Good Posture…just How Important Is It?” Improving Kansas Health.

GRICKEJ, PETER. “5 NEGATIVE Effects of Bad Posture on Your Body and Mind.” Posturebly Improve Your Posture Improve Your Life. 20 June 2014.

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