Classes can end up in strange places, intellectually and geographically.
Despite administrative efforts to assign classroom locations using a consistent system, many students become frustrated with inconvenient or seemingly counterintuitive placement of their classes. The process has placed math classes in Carr Building, far from the department’s home on Science Drive—while landing Italian classes in French Family Science Center.
The registrar’s office assigns classrooms to classes with a computer program based on criteria such as proximity to departmental offices, faculty desires, room setup, AV equipment and where most enrolled students reside, Bruce Cunningham, assistant vice provost and university registrar, wrote in an email Tuesday.
But these criteria are not always reflected in the classroom assignments. This is apparent in room assignments for Writing 101—previously Writing 20—classes, which are taken solely by freshmen residing on East Campus. For instance, when junior Kayla Hudson took Writing 20 as a freshman, it met in Keohane Quadrangle on West Campus, even though the entire class of freshmen lived on East and the course instructor’s office was on East as well.
“It was a hassle to take the bus to West for yet another class freshman year,” she said. “The instructor didn’t appreciate it either.”
Professors dissatisfied with their room assignments can request room changes, Cunningham said, adding that the registrar’s office tries to accommodate such requests whenever possible.
Complaints from professors usually concern classroom location or seating style, Cunningham added. Despite the efforts to accommodate faculty and students when assigning classroom locations, it is not always possible to place classes in the same building as the departments’ offices.
“Unfortunately, not every faculty member can get [their] ideal classroom every time,” he said. “We try to come as close as possible to the desires of the faculty, but given the numbers, that doesn’t always work out.”
The office may also change classroom locations from the initial designation on ACES/STORM to accommodate a significantly larger or smaller enrollment than originally expected. Sudden class relocations can generate other issues for students, though.
Sophomore Tahsin Zaman’s Writing 20 course, originally assigned to meet in Trent Hall on Central Campus, was moved on short notice. Zaman made the trek from his dorm on East Campus in 90 degree weather, only to discover that his professor had sent an email a few hours earlier announcing that the class had relocated to Belltower Dormitory on East.
“I made it to my actual class 90 minutes late, exhausted and swearing that I would check my email at least a dozen times a day,” he said.
Professors who wish to take advantage of the Link’s technological resources can specially request classrooms in the Link. Those rooms are assigned based on how useful the unique features would be for the class, Cunningham said.
He added, however, that the overall quality of the facilities has greatly improved over the past several years due to renovations and new construction, making classrooms more conducive to learning than they were in the past.
Holding classes in buildings generally used for other purposes can lead to confusion as well. Sophomore Karthika Raja’s Writing 20 course, “Jesus and Gender,” was located in B106 of the Levine Science Research Center. Unfamiliar with the building—an interdisciplinary research facility with labs utilized by the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, among others—and not knowing that each building has a designated letter, Raja went to the basement of the first building and found herself in a storage room.
“Overall, having a class in the LSRC was an interesting experience,” she said.
Other times, classes end up in rooms that are inconvenient for students and professors.
Sophomore Shelley Song took a Chinese class that was held in the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies at the busy intersection of Erwin Road and Trent Drive. When using the crosswalk to get to class one day, she nearly got hit by a car leaving the hospital.
Certain locations pose difficulty for obtaining transportation to and from class locations in a timely manner. Sophomore Ernst Casimir discovered this when he took a Writing 20 course held in the Nasher Museum of Art.
“Watching the countless C-1 Expresses pass by did little to build my patience and much to build my fury,” he said.