Too Big

The University of Minnesota may not have enough seats to accommodate its many overweight students.

According to an article by Jill Jensen in the Minnesota Daily:

It’s not advertised, but Disability Services provides accommodations for students requiring special seating because of their weight. Like students with disabilities, overweight students must register with the office.

“We want this University to be as accessible to everyone as it can be, and we would hope that people would choose to use our services rather than not to,” said Peggy Mann Rinehart, associate director of Disability Services.

The University of North Dakota apparently has a space on its website “to inform faculty what to do in order to provide accessible seating.” It says that … some students may not have a disability-related need but do need a table and chair (e.g., a person of large stature). Faculty can make these arrangements directly ….


A normal classroom desk can support someone who weighs up to 250 pounds.

Apparently about a quarter of the women at the institution are overweight or obese. About 40 percent of the men at Minnesota are overweight or obese. According to the article, between 2007 and 2010, “the number of self-reported obese or extremely obese males at the University increased from 2 percent to almost 10 percent.”

If your number of fat students increased from 2 to 10 percent in a 3-year period, it seems like buying more extra large seats might not be addressing the real problem here.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer