Classroom shortage blocks registration in 700 courses

While officials sought rooms, classes were entered into the online registration system as “canceled.”

Amy Horst

When Luke Werner tried to register for a computer programming class last Wednesday, he had an unpleasant surprise.

A message appeared on his screen telling him the course section was canceled, even though staff in the computer sciences department told him they were not aware of the cancellation.

Werner, a third-year computer science student, is one of hundreds of students potentially affected by a registration problem last week that caused about 700 University courses to be improperly categorized as canceled, making it impossible to register for those classes.

Of the affected courses, 44 had enrollments of more than 100 students and were scheduled between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – the most popular time for classes.

“It’s pretty discouraging and causes a lot of angst,” Werner said. “You go to talk to people and they send you in a big circle.”

Sue Van Voorhis, director of enrolled student services, said the problem occurred because of a lack of classroom space on campus. Van Voorhis said the shortage is particularly bad

because Nicholson Hall and Jones Hall will be renovated next semester.

“We simply do not have enough classrooms to accommodate the demand at this prime time,” Van Voorhis said. “So what we’ve been doing is working with individual departments to see if they could change their time, look at class enrollment sizes or switch days.”

Rather than making students overhaul their schedules later, Van Voorhis said, the registrar’s office decided it would be best to close some classes so students would not have to worry about the class time or day changing later.

The registrar began closing classes Wednesday and most classes reopened for registration at noon Friday because departments found a place for them to meet.

However, some students who registered before Wednesday also felt the effects of the closure.

Naima Oujjilal, a first-year pharmacy student, registered Monday and set her schedule so that she would have Tuesdays off. Two days later, she received an e-mail saying one of her Thursday labs had been canceled and she would be moved to a Tuesday section. Pharmacy students can usually choose to have either Tuesday or Thursday off by scheduling both of their labs for one day, Oujjilal said, but now many have no choice.

“A lot of people have jobs and had planned on working one of those days,” Oujjilal said.

Nanette Hanks, curriculum manager for the College of Liberal Arts said the University has difficulty finding enough space for classes every year. However, she said the problem has never affected students because departments usually allow students to register even when classroom locations are uncertain.

“We’re just as upset about this as the students are,” Hanks said. “Students should never have to worry about this.”

She said the University is working with departments and colleges to place classes, and said that as of Friday afternoon, most classes had a place to meet.

However, she said students should check their University e-mail and look at their registration information to make sure nothing has changed with their schedules. Students who could not register last week should also return to the system and sign up for classes they could not get before.

Van Voorhis said if changes are made to a student’s schedule, they will usually receive an e-mail after all registration queues are open, which will be Dec. 5 this year.