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Classes go to the movies

Having one of the largest freshman classes in USF’s history enrolled this semester is part of what will have some students attending classes at University Mall this spring.

Vice Provost Catherine Batsche helped President Judy Genshaft with a proposal to have classes at University 16 Theaters.

“It (the plan) started because of lack of space, and we wanted to be able to offer as many seats as possible,” Batsche said.

At University Mall, the cinemas that will be used are the four downstairs theaters. The upstairs theaters will be closed and there will be private access to the bottom theaters. Shuttle buses will be provided for students along with additional parking outside the theaters.

Batsche said that there are already 16 courses scheduled for next semester.

Some of the courses being offered at University Mall will be critical thinking, drugs and behavior, American government, chemistry and a nursing course. The four theaters will have classes between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will open at 7:30 a.m. to allow students to arrive early for class.

Batsche said the majority of classes are Monday through Thursday and there is one class on Friday. The classes are mostly between the hours of 9:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.

The four theaters hold different class sizes. Classroom One has a capacity of 174 and a cap enrollment of 131. Classroom Two has a capacity of 284 and is capped at 213. Classroom Three is at 386 but capped at 290. And the final classroom, Classroom Seven has a capacity of 70, but capped at 53.

It will cost USF $75,000 to rent out the theaters for the spring semester.

Batsche said the project will be a trial run for this spring and if it’s effective it will be used until the university builds more buildings with classroom space or until the budget cuts get better.

Batsche said when the university offers classes off campus offset fees are charged.

“The students will pay $7.50 for each class taken off campus,” she said.

“The off-set fees pay for the one time expenses.”

The charge will be a part of the students’ tuition bill.

Some of the one-time expenses the offset fee will pay for are AV equipment per unit; lapboards, lighting and door replacements.Batsche said the administration is trying to keep the fee as low as possible because of the budget cuts.

Batsche said graduate students who attend classes at the USF Downtown Center in Tampa also get charged an offset fee. The fee is $22 per credit hour for them.

Most of the courses being held at the theater are part of the general education requirements and are three-credit-hour courses.

“We have sent out a letter to students who have already registered to explain the fees and to make them aware of the times to make sure their schedule fits,” she said.

Batsche said the code for the class is classified as UMT. Also she said the Registrar put a banner on OASIS to tell students about the theater classrooms before they register.

The approximate number of expected students attending classes at the theaters is 5,484. At a total of 16,452 three-student credit hours at $7.50 the total amount for tuition would be $123,390.

Jay Friedlander, director for the School of Mass Communications, said the College of Arts and Sciences contacted all department chairpersons who have faculty with large classes to see if they would be interested in having class in the theater. College officials approached him about the project.

As far as any mass communications courses at the theater, Friedlander said there is only one class that would make sense there.

“The jury is still out to see if I can get funding for a second section for the mass communication and society class that would be taught by an adjunct and would be in the 100- to 200-student range,” he said.

Batsche said other departments have expressed interest in having a class in the theater, but until the university learns more about the budget cuts, it will be decided if there will be more classes offered in the theaters.

Friedlander said it would be interesting to have a mass communications class in a movie theater.

“It (the project) may very well work,” he said. “But the real question in my mind is do the students have the schedule to go back and forth to the mall.”

Krissy Wantland, a freshman, said she hopes she doesn’t have any classes at the mall.

“It’s going to be a pain in the butt to go from the mall back to USF,” Wantland said.

“Traffic is going to be a pain and I’m not big on the shuttle buses.”

The movie theater project was an idea that Genshaft got from the University of Central Florida, and she wanted to explore the possibility for USF.

Ed Neighbor, UCF’s associate vice president for academic affairs and administration, implemented the project and leases with Regal Cinemas.

The theater is across the street from UCF, and the college had the project operational for about three years.

Lynn Gonzalez, director for academic affairs administration at UCF, worked with Neighbor on the project.

“When I asked Mr. Neighbor about student reaction, he said that there was no dissatisfaction because there was a lot of parking.” Gonzalez said

“They didn’t have to pay for parking, and it wasn’t that far compared to some other classes that were held in trailers on campus.”

Gonzalez said the Regal Cinemas across from UCF are no longer in business. The theater filed for bankruptcy and nothing is over in that area anymore.

Batsche said that a final decision would be made by the middle of the spring semester to see if any fall classes will be held there.

“We will survey the students and faculty and maybe put a suggestion box in the theater to get feedback,” she said.

  • Contact Stefanie Greenat