Suppose a student’s new class at the University Mall ends at 1:45 p.m., but he or she has a class in the Business Administration building at 2 p.m. Think they’ll make it on time? One professor says it’s possible, while another says tardiness could make students miss out on valuable class information.
The University 16 Theaters at the University Mall is equipped to hold hundreds of students, certainly a favorable factor in USF’s decision to hold classes there. Despite convenience, recent budget cuts have required some classes to be cut, while others were simply forced to relocate.
“The new classes at UMT allow professors to teach larger classes, which is an overall better use of faculty resources, especially in the wake of the budget cuts,” said Kathleen Heide, associate dean for Faculty and Program Development.
Some professors have sympathy for the students who, as a result of UMT class location, are forced to rush to class on campus, only to arrive tardy anyway.
“It seems to be tough for the students,” said Cheryl Rodriguez, associate professor for Africana Studies. “I realize it’s not their fault, so I don’t penalize them for being tardy, although they are. They have told me it’s a difficult situation, and I realize we are all still trying to adapt.”
Pardoning tardy students coming from UMT classes by allowing them a few extra minutes to arrive to class is a discretionary issue, said Catherine Batsche, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.
“It will be up to the individual faculty member to decide if the nature of the class will allow the student to miss the first couple of minutes of class,” Batsche said.
Rodriguez said the classes at UMT cause an increase in the amount of time it takes to get from one class to another. She said a few students registered for her Major Black Thinkers section have class at the mall that dismisses only 15 minutes prior to hers, causing a number of students to arrive late.
Other professors question the possibility of making the 15- minute class transition.
“Can students make it to class in 15 minutes?” Charles Arnade, an International Studies professor asked. “I don’t think they can.”
Some students said getting across campus for a class is tough enough, but others said the situation is not as bad as it could be.
“The shuttle bus is helpful, but only runs every 15 minutes,” freshman Shannon McPherson said. “So if you miss the bus, then you have to wait for another. But the teachers are being really lenient on the tardy issue.”
Though the shuttle bus provides some relief for students, not everyone can rely on the bus for transportation to the mall. Those commuting by car might also find themselves in a bind for time and wind up late for class.
“The traffic on Bruce B. Downs is terrible,” Arnade said.As a result of the budget cuts, some on-campus faculty members find a higher number of students in their classes, a situation that leads to class alterations.
“We are having to modify certain class policies,” said Rodriguez , whose Major Black Thinkers class is up nearly 20 students from previous semester loads of 30.
She said there’s no doubt such situations are a direct result of the budget cuts.
Rodriguez said that her Major Black Thinkers class will not be required to write a research paper this semester, an alteration caused by the increased number of students in her class.
Arnade said he noticed only a small increase in his class size but cited the importance of having students arrive to class on time.
“Students will suffer by not making it to class on time,” Arnade said, referring to the possibility of missing important class information.
Arnade, a USF faculty member for more than 40 years, said he usually likes to take care of the “housework” (test dates, student questions, etc.) during the first five or 10 minutes of class.
The budget cuts are not a secret issue on campus, and the effects on the education process are being noticed by the professors.
“It’s obvious we are having some serious financial difficulties,” Rodriguez said. “But I don’t think education should have to suffer as much as our students are.”
Arnade said the students are not to blame for taking classes at the University Mall movie theater and registering such tight schedules with classes on campus.
“With a large number of students at USF, they have enough trouble getting classes as it is,” Arnade said. “If you have to take the class, you have to take the class. Everyone will have to do the best they can here.”
Arnade noted that he was not a big fan of large auditoriums or the idea of classes at the mall theaters.
“USF strives to be a school of excellent teaching with a close relationship between the teachers and students,” Arnade said.
“How can you have excellence when there are that many students in the class?”
As an alternative to holding classes at UMT, Rodriguez said USF should better utilize the space on campus, perhaps by building more lecture halls and classrooms. She also recommended holding more classes on Fridays.
Arnade also cited the insufficient number of large, on-campus lecture halls, as compared to schools such as University of Florida and Florida State University, as a problem. He said that if the school is going to hold classes of a few hundred students, it should have proper facilities on campus to house them.
“We will just have to wait and see how the adaptation process goes,” Rodriguez said. “Right now, it’s still difficult, both for the students, and for the faculty.”
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