Overcrowding demands creative solutions

By on September 22, 2008

By Paige Quiggins

With enrollment continuing to go up at the University of Louisville, students might soon be having classes in trailers to compensate for the lack of available space.
“The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education commissioned a space study last year of all public universities,” Provost Shirley Willihnganz said. “While space is at a premium everywhere, only two universities, U of L and Northern Kentucky, were deemed out of space.  
Willihnganz stated the use of trailers is not out of the realm of possibility if it is suggested by the CPE. She also said the university is currently evaluating how to best use its available space.
“The University of Louisville has hired a master planner to do a thorough inventory of space available on campus,” Willihnganz stated. “This will include campus interviews, campus surveys and other tools.  The master planning process will allow the university to vet the best use of existing buildings and how space is currently allocated.”
Despite the university’s plans, departments such as the Classical and Modern Languages department are currently experiencing problems due to overcrowding.   Department chair Dr. Augustus Mastri said they have begun to utilize online courses more as a result of the lack of space. This year, Spanish 121, 122 and 123 are being offered in online hybrid versions. 
“We have had problems with over-crowding for many years and we don’t see an end in sight,” Mastri said. “We would like to have at most 24 students in each language class.  However, the limit is usually raised to 30 or more.”
Dr. Regina Roebuck, Spanish Language Coordinator, said space constraints have   forced language classes to be held in different buildings, making them inconvenient for many students.
“We are finding that we are teaching in a number of different buildings – from the College of Education to the Speed School,” Roebuck said. “This makes it difficult for students and instructors, who sometimes have back-to-back in courses across campus, sometimes in rooms that are not well-suited for language instruction.”
Some students feel that adapting to online learning for a foreign language could also be very difficult, emphasizing that the person-to-person interaction is lost.
“I think any foreign language on the Internet would be hard,” freshman biology major Chandler Goolsby said. “I think with foreign language you really need to hear someone say it and with the online stuff it’s harder to do that.  I just feel like with any foreign language, you need a one-on-one.”
Other students have found the online software to be buggy, inconvenient or complicated.
“Sometimes, obviously with the power outage even, we’ve run into complications with Internet connections and things like that,” junior communication major Misty Lasch said.   “Sometimes it will just shut down, unexpectedly or lose a connection or whatever.  You can’t go back and fix things like you could if it were a regular, turned-in assignment.”
Dablow stated that, historically, the university has not seen a substantial increase in enrollment from fall to spring semesters, but still isn’t sure whether or not it will be able to accommodate all its students in the spring of 2009 semester.
“Generally speaking, enrollment for the spring semester is comparable to the fall semester,” Willihnganz stated. “So if we’ve had enough room to accommodate classrooms this fall, we should have enough for this coming spring.”

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