Left behind: Living life in a righty’s world

Anthony Holloway

Pricey notebooks and ill-fitting desks in class plague lefties

In a right-handed world, the “inconveniences” of being left-handed can be “a pain in school,” said Jocelyn Folk, associate psychology professor.

Folk, a mother of a left-handed son, said she recognizes the difficulties of being left-handed in and out of the classroom. She said the proportion of left-handed to not is a big reason society is slanted toward right-handed people.

“What’s really interesting is that left-handers seem to make up about 10 percent of the population, and that seems to be a fairly steady number,” Folk said.

If Kent State is representative of the population-with 10 percent of its student body being left-handed-there would be around 2,294 left-handed students out of the 22,944 enrolled. Quantitatively, it means the number of right-handed students could fill the M.A.C. Center more than three times, while the number of left-handers couldn’t fill it half way.

“Scientists don’t understand why 10 percent of the population seems to be left- handed,” Folk said, “but from that sense, it can be difficult to be left-handed, and if you’re roughly 10 percent of the population, you’re a real minority.”

Michael Bruder, director of design and construction, said the university is moving toward more universal classrooms with tables and chairs to “accommodate teaching styles and student comfort.”

“When we do purchase tablet arm desks or lecture hall seats with tablet arms, we provide approximately 10 percent of the seating for left-handed people,” Bruder said. “This aligns with the general distribution of left-handed people in the population.”

Nate Lewis, junior sports management major, said he doesn’t notice the accommodations being made by the university.

“I wish I could see more left-handed desks,” Lewis said. “Left is much more accommodating.”

Lewis said he doesn’t notice all the inconveniences because he only uses his left hand for writing, eating or things like playing basketball.

Megan Voigt, junior early childhood education major, said she uses her left hand for everything, and she notices the lack of left-handed desks. She said the desks she does see are in inconvenient locations.

“Left-handed desks are always in the back,” Voigt said.

She said her solution to the problem is to write on the desk to her left.

As she pointed to the outside of her pinkie on her left hand, she said another obstacle she deals with is smearing her writing.

“When you write, your ink or lead is smeared, leaving purple or gray on your hand,” Voigt said.

Junior architecture major Daniel Morris said he stopped using pencils altogether to avoid smearing.

“I don’t write with pencils any more because of it,” Morris said.

Morris said he tries to compensate for some left-handed inconveniences by owning left-handed scissors and a notebook.

Amy Quillin, director of Student Accessibility Services, said SAS is not responsible for providing a left-handed desk for a student requesting one unless the student is writing left-handed because of an injury. Quillin said SAS only covers “documented” disabilities, which being left-handed is not.

Folk said she thinks not having items suited for left-handed people, such as desks or scissors, can be difficult for them.

“It can really be a problem to be left handed,” Folk said. “You know, the button’s not on the right side for you, or the desk isn’t right for you.”

She said she notices how her son adjusted to use the right-handed items around the house like the computer mouse or Guitar Hero guitar. She said there are left-handed products available, though.

The bookstore in the Student Center offers left-handed notebooks for $3.49, which is 83 cents more than its right-handed counterpart. The notebooks are left-handed because the binding is on the opposite side of the page.

Amazon.com offers left-handed items such as guitars, scissors, keyboards and nutcrackers.

Folk said in addition to difficulties faced with certain products, there are issues with fitting in.

“Research shows adolescents look to peer approval,” Folk said.

She said people form “negative concepts of themselves from peer rejection.”

Lance Lysowski, freshman newspaper journalism major, said he likes being right-handed because he fits in.

“Everyone is right-handed, so I feel better about myself,” Lysowski said.

Folk said instances also come up at school when right-handed teachers are trying to teach left-handed students to tie their shoes.

Voigt said she faced that issue playing tennis. She said it was difficult because her coach was right-handed, and later, when she taught tennis, all of her students were right-handed.

Despite the inconveniences, Voigt said she wouldn’t change being left-handed.

“I like being left-handed because it’s different,” Voigt said. “If everyone was right-handed, that would be boring.”

Contact news correspondent Anthony Holloway at [email protected].