The Tomato

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Activists claim treatment of left-handed students ‘not right’

Illustration by Tina Wallace

Left-handed students are rising up to protest what they call “systematic academic discrimination” at the University of Ottawa.

Members of the Left-Handed Students Association (LHSA) have been picketing in front of the Jock Turcot University Centre (UCU) for the past week. Their issue is the UCU Auditorium, which, according to LHSA president Maria Perry, blatantly favours right-handed students.

“Each seat in the auditorium has a fold-up desk that gives students a surface to write notes on,” said Perry. “But on all the seats, the desk is on the right side of the chair. This makes it almost impossible for left-handers to use.”

University officials have insisted the design flaw is a simple oversight. However, Perry believes this is an example of a conscious disregard for the needs of left-handed students.

“Studies show that writing things down helps the brain retain facts. By making it difficult for lefties to take notes during lectures, the university is hindering our academic success,” said Perry.

The LHSA has demanded the school renovate the auditorium to include a special section for left-handers, but university officials have already turned them down, citing the “exorbitant” costs that a renovation would entail.

The LHSA had disputed the administration’s decision and alleged the school is refusing to remodel so they can continue to suppress the ambitions of left-handed students.

“They think if they give us our own section, we’ll be able to collaborate and overthrow the whole system,” said Perry. “The mainstream view has always been that if you provide equal rights to lefties, they’ll be able to rise up and remake society.”

Although the pro-left movement is gaining traction, there is already dissent among the ranks of the LHSA. Second-year political science student Zak Brown feels the focus of the protest is too narrow.

“Is the UCU Auditorium an important issue for the lefty community? Of course it is, but there are bigger issues here,” said Brown.

“We’ve also been shamed away from eating in cafeterias—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten dirty looks whenever I sit down to eat and knock elbows with the right-hander sitting next to me.”

The left-handers have risen up before, most notably their infamous 2009 barricade of Pivik, the campus convenience store. However, the movement did not live up to its full potential due to communication issues.

The group had nailed its manifesto to the UCU Auditorium doors, but because it had been written on a right-handed desk it just ended up looking like a six-year-old’s doodle.

Despite the setbacks, the movement has recently surged in popularity.

“We’ve seen a renewed passion for left rights not just on campus, but throughout the city,” said Perry. “This could go down as the year of the left.”