by Julia Ernst
Club presidents who are setting up their next meetings will have to plan an additional 48 hours ahead of time before sending out e-mails and meeting advertisements. Students and faculty who are debating class schedules for next semester should consider whether or not they would mind having a class from 4:30-6 p.m.
The “classroom crunch” that stemmed from a comprehensive inventory of all classrooms on the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses over the summer led to an urgent shifting of 68 classes this September and a number of other changes.
Now, clubs and organizations, as well as faculty members, must reserve a room at least two days before a desired meeting time by filling out a request via the university Web site. The second large-scale decision was made in an effort to allow more students to enroll in a particular class. A new class period, L, will be added to the scheduling block, to be held from 4:30-6 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday.
According to Dr. Anne Carroll, associate professor of finance, who served as head of the classroom task force, the changes came about because the AAUP-requested inspection revealed a “capacity constraint.”
“The fire code revisions meant that some classrooms lost seats and some classrooms gained seats, though there were more classrooms that lost seats than gained,” Carroll said. “Of the 71 rooms that had changes to their student occupancies, 28 of those classrooms added additional seats, and 43 had seats removed. Across all our general-purpose classrooms over the instructional day, we had a net loss of 68 seats. However, most of that loss was made up for by bringing rooms typically used for other purposes, mainly meetings, on-line for use in classrooms.”
In addition to the fire code revisions, larger furniture also contributed to the problem.
“Yes, we did get bigger desks, and part of the reason for bigger desks — though it certainly isn’t the only reason — is because people have gotten bigger,” Carroll said. “Not only do we have bigger desks, but the Egans [media lecterns] that hold the technology have gotten bigger, too.”
The additional class period and the scheduling forms were the most significant changes implemented by the university, though these new policies are not currently in place. Revisions to sections for the fall semester, however, had an immediate impact for students and faculty alike.
“Sixty-eight sections had to be moved so that classes with enrollments exceeding the new fire-code limits could go to larger rooms, as of Aug. 31,” Carroll explained. “The college most affected by the changes was the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Sciences, which had 53 sections moved. The College of Business Administration had 11 of their sections moved, while the School of Fine and Performing Arts and WCC were hardly affected, with three and one sections moved, respectively.”
Despite the reallocation of 68 sections, many students still feel that they are in overcrowded classes.
“I’ve only been here a few semesters, but I think this semester has definitely been the most crowded,” said Jessica Byrne, a senior business administration major. “I’m in five classes. A few of them are extremely packed, hot and overcrowded. I get stuck all the way in the back and I can’t pay attention, so it’s definitely a distraction.”
According to Carroll, the changes that were made for this semester and those that will implemented over the course of the 2009-2010 academic year are not final solutions.
“We will have an ongoing capacity crunch until the new building is built,” Carroll said, referring to the new academic building that will be built near Memorial Hall and is expected to be complete by fall 2011. “There is no doubt that the university needs more space, for both instructional and other needs. The fire-code revisions did not cause this capacity constraint, but it did exacerbate it.”
Edelyne Desane, a senior accounting major, said that she did not feel that her classes were overcrowded, but coming late to class could cause problems, aside from missing information.
Desane doesn’t have trouble finding a seat if she comes late to class, “because there are individual chairs in the back, but then you have to worry about finding a place to plug in your laptop,” she said. “It’s very inconvenient.”
The classroom capacity issues have caused other problems for students aside from having their room assignments and the way in which they schedule meetings change.
“I came from a small high school with small classes,” explained Kristen Wagner, a senior American Studies major. “Rider prides itself on small class sizes. My freshman year was 2005, but I left to go to another university, and when I came back, I felt like the classes were much bigger. If you don’t participate, I feel like the teachers don’t know your name.”
Rachel Volinsky, a junior journalism major, feels that having her classrooms moved has had a significant impact on her academics.
“Since I was a freshman, pretty much all of my classes have been in the Fine Arts building,” Volinsky explained, adding that one of her classes this semester was moved from Fine Arts to Memorial in an effort to accommodate more students. “To suddenly have a number of my classes in Memorial makes me feel uncomfortable, like I’m in a different school.”