Iannelli: Big chairs present sizeable issues

Iannelli discusses his concerns about the #TUBigChairs phenomenon.

Jerry Iannelli

Jerry IannelliFor the past six semesters, my family and I have made the conscious choice to send a sizeable portion of our life savings to Temple, in the hopes that I both gain a practical education and that our commitment to the Cherry and White is one day repaid in the form of two comically oversized novelty Adirondack chairs being bolted directly into the ground at the busiest part of campus.

As such, I would like to take this time right now to thank Temple’s gracious front office for letting me live out my dream of sunbathing at Hagrid’s summertime beach hut and emasculating myself by foolishly attempting to sit in a beach chair made for a half-giant. I would also like to thank Temple’s Facilities Management department for not spending the hundreds of dollars that these chairs cost on something frivolous, like helping my friends not have to drop out.

Likewise, I’m glad the people running Temple are “hip” and “with it” enough to paint the hashtag “#TUBigChairs” directly onto the side of the seats in question. How else would any of us young academics have ever known what to call the new “big chairs” on Main Campus? I’m glad no one decided to hold any sort of naming contest for the new decorations, though. I would’ve hated for a creative name like “Big Chairs” to have gone to waste in favor of #WasteOfMyTuition, #BallSoHard or “Wait, You Mean Temple Spent a Few Hundred Dollars of My Money on Chairs That Nobody Can Sit In Instead of Reducing My Loan Debt?”

For the few of you that may dislike the hashtag, allow me to ask you this: If you bolt a bright-red, 300-pound chair into the ground, and someone in Cool Ranch-scented sweatpants and male Uggs isn’t around to take a duck-faced selfie in front of it, did you really bolt a bright-red, 300-pound chair into the ground at all? Didn’t think so. Point for #TUBigChairs.

Furthermore, I’m really glad those few hundred dollars didn’t go to waste on anything other than hashtagged, unusable chairs. I’m sure Temple’s  brass all sat together for hours in a bare-bones, stuffy boardroom, ordering Chinese takeout and debating options into the wee hours of the morning. I can only imagine that the conversation went something like this: “Should we give this money away?” they surely asked themselves, eventually finding the idea of donating back surplus tuition dollars into the student body of a state-run institution as ludicrous as the rest of Temple’s population must. “How about we round up all of the stray cats in North Philadelphia, give them vocal lessons, teach them all some basic dance choreography and put on a bi-weekly musical cat revue entitled, ‘Les Meowserablés’? Too ludicrous? How about some sort of giant prism sculpture that only refracts Cherry-and-White-colored beams of light directly into the eyes of oncoming bicyclists? Too avant-garde? You guys definitely don’t just want to save this money though, right? What’s that? You want to permanently bolt the single most inconvenient structures that we can possibly build into the busiest thoroughfare on Main Campus? Where do I sign?”

Perhaps these chairs weren’t built for me at all. Perhaps these were the chairs guaranteed in the final prophecy of Russell Conwell himself as he lay dying in a hospital bed in 1925 of apparent moustache poisoning, lest we forget.

“He and she who sitteth in the mighty Temple-made thrones of Bell Towerdom shall be destined to travel the world sharing affordable education and decent-to-great men’s basketball to all that walk these fine lands until their dying day. So speaketh the prophecy,” Conwell uttered before drawing his final breaths. I believe that his speech is inscribed somewhere in Founder’s Garden.

Maybe I’m just bitter, because I have sat in both of these fine chairs and hashtagged their name across the digital sky to no avail. At no point was I swept up in an angelic higher education-based vortex, immediately growing a fine handlebar moustache, the wings and talons of an ornery barn owl and the comedic stylings of Bill Cosby. I am not the chosen one. But one of you lucky students may be. Sit in these chairs, enjoy them and make merry. Until the chosen Owl returns, they are all we have.

Yours truly,

Jerry Iannelli

Jerry Iannelli can be reached at gerald.iannelli@temple.edu or on Twitter @JerryIannelli.


  1. I vote we sell the chairs and put the proceeds toward everyone’s account. The ten-thousandths of a cent would surely relieve everyone’s tuition woes.

  2. I agree with you 100%.

    I work in the center that calls alumnae, and the last thing they want to hear is the money they graciously gave to the university was put to use building ridicules oversized chairs.

    I didn’t come here for the campus aestetic, I cam here because I felt like the school had its mind on the right thing- giving a quality education. The whole new Temple Made campaign and these stupid chairs are direct contradictions to that.

  3. boo hoo! how about you complain about the foreign campuses you’re never going to visit, or the courses you’re never going to take, or the tenured professors you’re never going to have, or the dining hall that you probably don’t go to


    I guess I don’t really care about the chairs. I see why Temple did it, a fun kinda gag.

    There are much better ways for temple to reduce my student loan debt than two oversized adirondack chairs, but i get your point.

  5. This may be the best article ever written. I can’t even put into words the amount I agree with you. Alumni money, my tuition, heck why not buy stupid over sized chairs, or a sizable amount of banners with students faces painted on it with a bad slogan. “Temple Made” me poor. Thanks for buying me a chair. That’s too big for anyone.

  6. What an obnoxiously written article. You’re crying about few hundred dollars? The facilities guy made it himself. I bet for him and his family, the media attention it’s gotten is a great moment in his life to be a part of something bigger, which is what Temple Made is about. Temple doesn’t belong to just students, but to faculty, staff and the North Philadelphia community it sits in. This project is far from the first thing that deserves so much space decrying waste.

  7. Because Temple’s aesthetic means nothing? Let’s just all go to school in gray, Communist-era buildings (Weiss hall, basically). Forget the flags, the artwork, the green spaces, the many symbols of our school pride. To hell with creating common areas for student interaction and gathering.

    Fine, the big chairs are a strange way to decorate our campus, but I don’t remember anyone complaining about the colorful adirondack chairs introduced last year. And those were easily a couple hundred, too. I agree with John: so you hate the chairs and want that money? Enjoy your fraction of a penny.

    Try to be a little more lighthearted. If you took your bitter vitriol and directed it toward some real issues Temple has, you might actually change something. It’s just a damn chair.

  8. Although this article may seem like a winner, it is just the tip of the iceburg. So much money have been wasted on ideas that would otherwise be irrelevant if the school can put money into more supplies, better printers and other improvements that Temple needs. I understand that saving money by amusing kids with big chairs and a stupid slogan seem like a good idea, but you can never put a band aid on a shark bite.

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