Too towering for school: Students struggle in small campus space

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Imagine a world where everything is in the way, exit signs seem to be a slap in the face; beds seem to shrink when nighttime arises and showers only feel like showering at chest height. Well, this reality only exists for people much taller than I, a five-foot-three -inches freshman.

Standing at six-foot-eight-inches, sophomore Anthony Zerkel dodges many obstacles around campus by simply ducking.

Towering over many students and faculty, Zerkel claims that here at Pacific he deals with “low doorways that we have to duck through, low hanging signs and other decorations that people do not think to put up higher than their own heads,” Zerkel said. “Another problem is all of the trees on campus, the branches over the pathways are a common annoyance as I am walking to class.”

But the height concerns didn’t just hit its climax at Pacific; they were there long before college. In seventh grade Zerkel reached the extent of his growth spurt, pushing him to about six-foot-four-inches.

“I have always been tall for my age but when I outgrew the average height, I could find very little that was made for disadvantaged people like me,” Zerkel said.

Zerkel recalls a time when he was coming out of the restroom at a restaurant and forgetting to duck, he smacked his head on the metal opener on the top of the door. This wasn’t the first time; Zerkel’s girlfriend, Janae Rasmussen, said that at times it can be funny to watch him duck coming into her room or various doorways.

“He’s so used to it that it’s his natural instinct to duck his head or bend down,” Rasmussen said. But Rasmussen shares many of the same problems.

“I’m pretty tall for a woman at five-foot-eleven-inches,” Rasmussen said. “I think another issue I face with my relatively tall height and especially Anthony with his super long legs, is fitting comfortably in desks. There are a lot of desks that for people around my height and above have to hunch awkwardly forward to take tests or notes since the desks are so small and we can’t adjust them.”

As for myself, I have never had that issue. In fact, it’s even difficult to make eye contact with people unless my head is tilted upward.  Freshman Siobhan Lieuallen, shares my lack of height.

“I feel like a lot of people don’t notice me when I walk around campus. It’s kind of embarrassing when I wave and no one acknowledges me,” Lieuallen said. “I think the campus accommodates all heights but then I can’t speak for those who are twice as tall as me.”

The showers and amenities around Pacific are made for people no taller than five-foot-six-inches and what happens when taller people try to go about their daily routines? They struggle.

“Imagine if you had to become a contortionist every time that you needed to take a shower. With the shower heads at chest height, it is almost like that for us tall people,” Zerkel said. “The beds are [also] short, even on the extra long ones my feet still hang over the end.”

But Zerkel admits that not everything is bad. Being tall has become more “normal” for him now and he can use his height to his advantage when playing basketball.

He is also skilled at reaching things others couldn’t without a stepladder, as well as the fact that he is capable at finding others in crowds due to his “aerial advantage.”

For the future, Zerkel hopes that schools will be more considerate towards the simple things, “like how low they hang signs or decorations, just easy fixes that could happen without any extra effort that would make life easier for the tall people on campus,” he said.

For me, this little campus that Pacific students live on is such a big world. But for people like Zerkel and Rasmussen, this little campus is just, well, little.

And who knows, maybe the new residence hall that’s being built will assure that Zerkel’s wishes will come true.


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