No one knows suffering like a left-handed person in a Hamilton classroom.

Right-handed people have it the best in a lot of situations: whiteboards, smudgy pens, scissors, you name it. The world is not made for us lefties, and that certainly includes the classrooms of Columbia University. As I start my final year on this campus, join me on a carpal tunnel-inducing reflection on some of the best and worst classrooms for lefties, in order from the most ideal to the worst you’ve ever seen.

#6: My room, at home, during the Zoom year. 

Look, doing my first year of college online was not great for a lot of reasons, but by far the best part was having a real, actual desk in my room all to myself, a situation perfectly suited for all my left-handed needs, with enough space to fit my laptop, notebook, coffee, and even a home-cooked meal. Unfortunately, I had no idea how good I had it, having never been on campus before. Little did I know the price I would have to pay for finally, you know, going to college.

#5: Milstein 111

Ah, the Milstein Seminar room. So much lovely space for me to slide up to in my rolly chair. I can swoop my left elbow as far to the side as I desire, without fear of hitting the person next to me. A luxuriously large table for a delightfully small class is truly the ideal lefty experience. The only downside (or maybe upside?) of this room is the wall that is just a window that faces out towards the busiest part of Barnard’s campus, but you can get distracted by your friend walking by whether or not you’re left-handed (stop waving at me bestie, I’m literally in class). 

#4: Diana 203

Diana 203 is best known for being that weird room awkwardly placed next to Diana, but us lefties know it better for its deceptively attractive table arrangement. Rows of long, large tables all facing the front of the room, what’s not to love? Plenty, it turns out, especially if you happen to be taking The Jane Austen Class that everyone and their mom wants to take (for good reason) and the room is full to the brim. No one has space to breathe, much less work, but it gets ten times worse when you’re a lefty and you keep making awkward elbow contact with the person next to you. Eventually, I just started sitting off to the side and taking notes in my lap. My handwriting might be illegible but at least I could take notes in peace. 

#3: Barnard 302

Nothing brings me back to high school like Barnard 302. My butt is likely falling asleep in those cheap plastic chairs, but I don’t even notice because I’m too busy enjoying the large personal desk I have laid out in front of me. Sure, I can probably only fit one notebook on it and I have to keep the book we’re talking about balanced open on my thighs. Sure, if I put my iced coffee on the desk too, the condensation will slide down and get my notebook all wet. And sure, the elbow rest is on the right side so my writing hand relaxes a bit less than those of my peers, but it’s a small price to pay for a surface that’s actually large enough to write on. 

#2: Hamilton 603

And now we make it to the lecture rooms… AKA every lefty’s worst nightmare. The left-handed desks are always on the far left of these kinds of rooms (which makes sense, I guess), but in this room, the left side also happens to be the location of the air conditioning, so I spend all class shivering. Not to mention the fact that I’ve seen multiple right-handed people sit in one of the very few left-handed desks in this room. Why do you want to suffer like I do? Do you think this is a joke?!

#1: Fayerweather 313

I think technically Hamilton 603 has larger “desks” (if you can even call them that) than this room, but Fayerweather 313 takes the number one spot any day because of the horrific trauma I’ve endured here. My sophomore year I had not one but two classes in this room, BOTH with hand-written finals and midterms. Everyone suffered alongside me fitting their blue books on those minuscule lecture room desks, but no one understood the mad dash that took place for one of the three—that’s right, three—left-handed desks other than me and the other lefties in the class. During the semester, we could take notes on our laptops, but when it came time for those exams it was a bloodbath that I clearly have never recovered from.

Image via Wikimedia Commons