An Update On My (Accessible, Inviting, and Less Impersonal) Office

Recently, I decided to “think out loud” (i.e., blog) about adopting a social justice informed approach to education.  Though I do not officially start at the University of Richmond until Aug. 1, and classes begin a few weeks later, I have been working in and on my new office.  I took suggestions for ways to decorate my office, which turned into a challenge to make the space more accessible and inviting.  Of course, I have to show you “before” and “after” pictures.



The picture above features the initial setup.  As visitors come into my office, the first thing they would see is me behind a rather large desk.  I would hold meetings with students separated by the desk and the power that it conveys.  So, as I mentioned in the earlier post, my first change was to move the desk to take away its prominence in the office, hopefully downplaying the power-differential between my students and me.  But, I went beyond that, taking seriously the suggestions of my friends to make the office as accessible and warm as possible.


New Office 1


New Office 2

Now, the floorspace in the middle of the office has been cleared, and now dons a cool looking area rug.  If I am at my desk, you will see my left side.  In the picture immediately above, you can see the cute little cafe table and chair set I bought at a thrift store.  I plan to hold my meetings here.  Physically, my visitor and I will be on equal ground.  There is no powerful desk between us, only a bronze colored cafe table.  Also in that corner of the office, I have added a small dry erase board (with a corkboard border), and a little table that features candies (the visible bowl) and safe sex items (i.e., condoms, dental dams, lube; in the bowl behind it).  The office now features a few posters, stickers, and magnets that make clear my commitment to social justice and, more importantly, to empowering my students to speak out against injustice (e.g., Audre Lorde: “Your silence will not protect you”).

Many of my colleagues have seen the new setup, and remarked that they liked it.  The true test will come as I begin meeting with students in the fall semester.  Stay tuned.