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Theaters, classes and concern

When sophomore April Walker rides the shuttle to her American National Government class on Mondays and Wednesdays, she can’t stop wondering if class has started without her. She wakes up an hour earlier than normal on those days, and the ride to class takes about 45 minutes. Her mind is plagued by how many more stops there will be on the way to class and how many more students will board the shuttle.

Walker is one of 1,913 students who are traveling between campus and the University Mall to attend class at the mall’s movie theaters. Some are having more trouble adjusting than others.

Walker’s government class was originally scheduled to be located in the Communications Information Sciences building on Mondays and Wednesdays. But a week before classes began, a friend alerted her that the class location was changed to the mall theaters.

“I did my schedule so it would be easier to get to class,” Walker said.

But instead, she was left with 15 minutes to get from the mall to her next class in Cooper Hall – Spanish.

“The shuttle buses are great, but they don’t run that fast,” she said.

Because the shuttle ride back from the mall takes about 15 minutes, Walker said she is five to 10 minutes late to Spanish on the days she has class at the mall.

In all Spanish classes, three tardies equal an absence. Walker said she discussed the matter with her teacher, who understood her predicament, but Walker still feels she is troubling everyone.

“Everyone is being inconvenienced (in my class),” Walker said. “I can’t be late for Spanish – that can hurt me. It seems like I’m robbed.”

Additionally, Walker feels the theaters are not equipped for students. After following the signs planted about the mall parking lot, students are led into a back door of the theater and welcomed with a cart loaded with hunter green tablets to aid the students in taking notes. Instead of the name and time of a movie above the theater, the names and times of classes are displayed. Some professors choose to use microphones and take advantage of the movie screen as a giant projector.

Freshman Brooks Potteiger said he has a difficult time writing notes in his Classical Mythology class because everyone’s elbows are in the way, and it contributes to a lack of space. He said he thought the theater atmosphere might hinder classroom discussion.

“The class is not interactive at all,” he said. “If someone had something to say, it affects the student’s response to scream out an answer.”

Potteiger said the classroom agenda could be changed by the arrangement as well, due to the fact it would be difficult to hand out papers or give a pop quiz.

People had been arriving at class late fairly consistently, he said, which adds to the distractions of the theater environment.

“I don’t see how it’s better than having a class at USF at all unless they’re out of room. Then it’s not a bad idea,” he said. Walker said she didn’t understand why classes couldn’t be held elsewhere.

“With all the new construction around, it’s a shame we don’t have a place for the students to go,” she said.

Other students realized they were adjusting to the change along with their teachers. Junior Dave Wilson said attending his Tuesday-Thursday World Geography class at the mall didn’t interfere much with his schedule, and he didn’t have much of a problem with the change. He said he thought his professor was doing the best he could in the situation.

“I think he’s still trying to get used to it,” Wilson said.

He felt the class wasn’t much different than a lecture hall on campus and said he has had large classes with 450 students before.

“It’s not bad, it’s a change of scenery,” Wilson said.

Other than the trials of venturing off campus for class, some students felt they could have been told about their classrooms in a more appropriate manner.

Although the mall classes were labeled on OASIS, Walker said people tend to not read the information.

The administration said they mailed letters to students who were taking classes at the theaters, but neither Walker nor Potteiger said they received anything. Wilson said he got a letter in the mail but didn’t think much of it. Walker suggested the university should have held a meeting for the students.

“I wish the university would make the students aware of the changes before we make our schedules,” Walker said.

Potteiger said he was upset about the extra money charged to students for having class off campus. Although it is only a fee of $7.50, he said this disturbed him more than having to travel off campus.

“It’s not the money, it’s the philosophy,” he said. “I didn’t know I’d be charged extra.”

But as the second week of classes comes to a close, some students are still coping with the change.

“I really think it is negative for students,” Walker said. “I don’t know who to get mad at.”

  • Contact Lindsay Fosterat