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Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    SSU spends $843,000 on new classroom furniture

    Sonoma State University purchased 1391 new tables and chairs, along with 670 tablet-arm seats, to ensure uniformity and accessibility across 53 classrooms for a total of $843,000. The purchase was funded through Academic Affairs. 

    This purchase was made to improve ergonomics and provide improved usability to students, faculty and staff. This new classroom furniture consists of tables, chairs, and tablet-arm seats that will ensure all of the university’s classrooms and academic spaces are uniform and standardized by the The General Purpose Classroom Refresh Initiative. 

    “The General Purpose Classroom Refresh Initiative began in the Office of the Provost in 2018 with the recognition by faculty, staff, students, and administrators that many of our classrooms were in poor conditions and needed technology upgrades to ensure the highest quality teaching and learning possible,” The 2020 General Purpose Classroom Refresh Initiative

    These classroom standards were proposed based on faculty feedback from a November 2018 survey. Commissioned by the Academic Technology and Instructional Spaces Subcommittee (ATISS) and regarding preferences for next generation classrooms at SSU, the survey had 158 responses from faculty (107 tenure-track, 51 lecturers) according to the 2020 Classroom Report. 

    Following the survey, a proposal for new classroom standards was released including improved audio capabilities, classroom computers, lighting control, mobile furniture, janitorial services, as well as wifi capabilities. According to the Classroom Report, it was decided that General Purpose Classrooms should maximize six guiding principles: flexibility of space, ease of movement and flow, accessibility, organization, climate control, and safety. 

    Provost Lisa Vollendorf committed $3 million dollars to be invested in collaboration with The General Purpose Classroom Refresh Initiative’s intentions to ensure academic excellence and innovation as well as improving classroom conditions. 

    Out of the $3 million 2018 investment, $300,000 was dedicated to the deep cleaning of general purpose classrooms, $1 million was intended for technology upgrades, and $1.7 million was designated to the purchase of new campus furniture. 

    The on-campus buildings where the new furniture will be installed are Darwin Hall, Ives Hall, Physical Education building, Salazar Hall, Carson Hall, Nichols Hall, International Hall, Art, Schulz, Music, and Chalk Hill. 

    The existing furniture will be donated and/or recycled depending on its condition. 

    Most of these furniture pieces were delivered to campus over Spring Break, however due to supply chain delays, 120 tables remain on backorder. 

    SSU’s Assistant Vice President for Strategic Communications and campus spokesperson, Julia Gonzales, explained via email that the backordered tables are expected to arrive later this May. Until they arrive, a few classrooms will continue to use the existing tablet-arm seats.

    “The purchase of this new classroom furniture is the result of a campus wide initiative that began in 2018 and has served as a national model of shared governance,” Gonzalez said. “This initiative integrates with the Facilities Master Plan and the Capital Plan, which includes the renovation of Stevenson Hall and its classrooms.” 

    SSU Students are excited to see more inclusive desks to arrive. 

    Kaylee Carnahan, a 22-year-old Human Development Major said, “I think the news desks are great as they are more plus size friendly and accommodating to all body types. I’ll be graduating in may so I’m glad at least, in the future, the desks will be more comfortable.” 

    Carnahan isn’t the only student looking forward to the new campus furniture.

    Logan Knowlton, a 21-year-old Psychology student thinks the new furniture will be enjoyed by everyone. “As a psychology student, I think it’s great that Sonoma State is making an effort to be inclusive and considerate to our diverse community in California. Something as simple as providing a comfortable and accessible place to sit can make all the difference for some students,” Knowlton said. “I hope to see SSU continuing to make the shift towards inclusivity as that is what Sonoma state was built on.”

    While many students are excited for new furniture, some students voiced frustration at SSU’s attention to inclusivity while the Wi-Fi on campus is worse than ever. 

    It’s been a long held complaint that the Wi-Fi on campus, and especially in the dorms, is not conducive with the current expectations teachers hold for their students to properly participate in online classes during the era of COVID-19. 

    Sean Kim, a 28-year-old Political Science major wrote in a Facebook comment, “It’s great to see them trying to get new furniture, but I think they should try to spend more money on getting better internet on campus. The internet is so slow, and some places, Wi-Fi gets disconnected. They need to do something about it,” Kim said.  

    When the $3 million dollars was invested in collaboration with The General Purpose Classroom Refresh Initiative’s, some of that money was intended to go towards improving the internet connection campus-wide. However, four years after the designation of this money, a top complaint among students is still the poor campus Wi-Fi. 

    STAR// Isabel Epstein

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