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Class sizes swell as USF saves

A familiar scene for some Monday. Students are forced to sit on the floor in the Business building. ORACLE PHOTO/JOSE LOPEZ JR.

Classrooms where students were forced to stand or sit on the floor became a common sight Monday as the cutbacks promised by administrators in a tight budget year began.

Coupled with a hiring freeze and freshman enrollment cap, University officials hope efficiencies such as increased class size and shorter library hours will prepare USF for a budget cut from 4 to 10 percent as early as September.

The cutbacks have some faculty members concerned. The faculty union has requested a special bargaining session concerning the growing class sizes.

Larger classes mean more work for professors, something faculty union President Sherman Dorn said might be grounds for negotiation.

Though most faculty members will see only an increase of a few students per section, some will see an increase tantamount to teaching an extra class.

Associate professor and chief union negotiator Robert Welker saw enrollment in his business law course jump from 250 to over 400 students. Altogether he will teach 384 more students.

Welker said the effect on individual students will be minimal, but he feels bad for students that will be “packed like sardines” in a lecture hall.

Representatives from the University and the union are set to enter consultation Wednesday.

Crowd control

Weeks before the semester began, workers counted, replaced and fixed seats in classrooms to prepare for the incoming tide of students, according to the assistant dean of undergraduate studies, Glen Besterfield.

Despite the preparations, many students were left

without a desk.

In a Mass Communications and Society class of over 300 people, every seat was taken and a number of people stood against the wall.

“It was really crowded and annoying,” said mass communications sophomore Alecia Vathakos.

Although admitting that some students might feel discomfort during opening week, Besterfield anticipates classes will thin as the drop/add period comes to a close Friday. He also pointed to overcrowding as a sign of healthy retention rates, something USF often struggles to maintain.

In the face of larger classes, faculty members remain optimistic, according to Welker.

“Everybody I’ve talked to is unhappy about it, but nobody wants students to suffer,” he said. “I do not want students to suffer because of some budget crunch in Tallahassee or on campus.”

Staff Writer Amy Mariani contributed to the report.

Joshua Neiderer can be reached at (813) 974-5190 or oracleeditor@gmail.com.