Every week in the cramped confines of Intercultural Center Room 207, teaching assistant Michael Weintraub leads an evening discussion section with far too many students for the room to hold. Some students sit on the floor, while others brush shoulders with their classmates, hoping for space and a desk.

The discussion section for International Relations – Professor Matthew Kroenig’s course – is one of several overbooked classes on campus that several students and administrators agree have begun to compromise the learning process.

According to a 2009 U.S. News and World Report, 58 percent of Georgetown’s classes contain fewer than 20 students, and 34 percent of classes have fewer than 50. On the surface, this statistic might reveal a campus with intimate classroom settings that enable superior teacher-student communication.

Classrooms like Weintraub’s, however, are far too intimate for their own good.

“The space situation in our room is absolutely horrible. I would say that there are about twice as many people in that room than there should be,” Kelly Sawyers (COL ’11), a student in Weintraub’s discussion section, said in an e-mail. “There is definitely a bit of an impediment to the learning experience when you feel like you are stuffed in a sardine can instead of a classroom.”

Several other students in the section contacted for this story raised similar issues about the learning environment.

“While it is easy to see our T.A., it is almost impossible to see everyone else in the class [because] people are crammed into each and every corner. It would be an environment more conducive to learning and discussion if we were able to see the faces of our classmates,” Michelle Saks (COL ’12) said in an e-mail.

University Registrar John Q. Pierce said that the problem with some discussion sections exists because some departments allow students to select their sections outside of the ordinary registration process, making it impossible for the registrar to know which classes are overbooked.

Pierce acknowledged that the problem could be resolved if the registrar’s office mandated that registration for discussion sections occur during registration, but said that no decision would be made without consulting individual departments.

any students said that the problem of space does not befit the university’s reputation, despite their T.A.’s best efforts.

“Our T.A. does a great job working with the difficulties in such a tight space,” Benjamin Sacher (MSB ’12) said in an e-mail. “There is something odd about attending an elite university in which students can’t properly fit into recitation.”

Eleanor Hughes (COL ’11) found the situation particularly frustrating after transferring from another International Relations discussion section earlier in the semester when there were not enough desks for all the students.

“Considering how much I pay for Georgetown, I feel kind of ripped off when I have to scramble for a seat, and cannot get my questions answered,” Hughes said in an e-mail.

“[In some classes], students are free to select their own recitation sections, so we don’t have a way to know for sure how many are going to each discussion section,” Pierce said.

Pierce said that the registrar’s office had only received one report of overcrowding from an International Relations section but was later informed by the teaching assistant that the class had opted not to move.

“The teachers and the T.A.’s are supposed to assign students not to exceed capacity of the room assigned – and if they need additional space, they should get back to us,” he said.

Kroenig, however, stated that he never heard of the problems in any of his sections and was never informed by the T.A.’s of the overcrowding issue.

“If I had been alerted to any potential problems earlier in the semester, I could have looked into having the classrooms reassigned,” Kroenig said.

“Most decisions made by universities are collaborative – hardly anyone issues orders,” Pierce said. said. “I’m going to raise this issue with the government department. If we’re going to have this problem, then we should be insisting [that students must register sections through the registrar’s office]. But it shouldn’t happen – people should not be sitting on the floor, and we do take that very seriously.”

However, the rooms used for Kroenig’s International Relations sections in ICC hold only 23 students. Because the class contains 149 students and operates six discussion groups, sections for the class would almost inevitably be overbooked regardless of the method used for assigning students to them.

The problem, however, is not unique to International Relations discussion sections. The space limitations of one of Professor Elizabeth Prelinger’s Art History classes have angered students and teacher alike.

“The class is definitely packed pretty tightly,” said Diana McCue (COL ’11), who estimated that students would need to sit on the floor if there were perfect attendance. “It impacts the teaching in that it really [angers] Prelinger.”

cCue said the space is also not suited for the requirements of an art history class.

“It’s an inappropriate classroom for art history classes,” McCue said.

Administrators stressed that overcrowding problems would be reduced in the coming months when the new McDonough School of Business building opens.

“A good student-teacher ratio is very important to the quality of the educational experience Georgetown provides,” university spokesperson Julie Bataille said. “We know that space in general is an issue throughout campus, and plans for the new McDonough School of Business and Science Center will provide some additional classrooms.”

Pierce agreed that the situation would soon be remedied.

“Whatever pressure there is on the classrooms, it’ll be resolved in the fall,” he said. “Still, I will follow up on this issue even though the semester is almost over.”

In the meantime, some students are taking the problem in stride.

“This is Georgetown University, and every week we have a student or two sitting on the floor because there isn’t enough room to pull in more desks,” Ellen Greer (SFS ’11), a student in the International Relations discussion section, said in an e-mail. “[But] there are hundreds of public schools in this country that have graver space issues than we do. We’ll survive.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.

Every week in the cramped confines of Intercultural Center Room 207, teaching assistant Michael Weintraub leads an evening discussion section with far too many students for the room to hold. Some students sit on the floor, while others brush shoulders with their classmates, hoping for space and a desk.

The discussion section for International Relations – Professor Matthew Kroenig’s course – is one of several overbooked classes on campus that several students and administrators agree have begun to compromise the learning process.

According to a 2009 U.S. News and World Report, 58 percent of Georgetown’s classes contain fewer than 20 students, and 34 percent of classes have fewer than 50. On the surface, this statistic might reveal a campus with intimate classroom settings that enable superior teacher-student communication.

Classrooms like Weintraub’s, however, are far too intimate for their own good.

“The space situation in our room is absolutely horrible. I would say that there are about twice as many people in that room than there should be,” Kelly Sawyers (COL ’11), a student in Weintraub’s discussion section, said in an e-mail. “There is definitely a bit of an impediment to the learning experience when you feel like you are stuffed in a sardine can instead of a classroom.”

Several other students in the section contacted for this story raised similar issues about the learning environment.

“While it is easy to see our T.A., it is almost impossible to see everyone else in the class [because] people are crammed into each and every corner. It would be an environment more conducive to learning and discussion if we were able to see the faces of our classmates,” Michelle Saks (COL ’12) said in an e-mail.

University Registrar John Q. Pierce said that the problem with some discussion sections exists because some departments allow students to select their sections outside of the ordinary registration process, making it impossible for the registrar to know which classes are overbooked.

Pierce acknowledged that the problem could be resolved if the registrar’s office mandated that registration for discussion sections occur during registration, but said that no decision would be made without consulting individual departments.

any students said that the problem of space does not befit the university’s reputation, despite their T.A.’s best efforts.

“Our T.A. does a great job working with the difficulties in such a tight space,” Benjamin Sacher (MSB ’12) said in an e-mail. “There is something odd about attending an elite university in which students can’t properly fit into recitation.”

Eleanor Hughes (COL ’11) found the situation particularly frustrating after transferring from another International Relations discussion section earlier in the semester when there were not enough desks for all the students.

“Considering how much I pay for Georgetown, I feel kind of ripped off when I have to scramble for a seat, and cannot get my questions answered,” Hughes said in an e-mail.

“[In some classes], students are free to select their own recitation sections, so we don’t have a way to know for sure how many are going to each discussion section,” Pierce said.

Pierce said that the registrar’s office had only received one report of overcrowding from an International Relations section but was later informed by the teaching assistant that the class had opted not to move.

“The teachers and the T.A.’s are supposed to assign students not to exceed capacity of the room assigned – and if they need additional space, they should get back to us,” he said.

Kroenig, however, stated that he never heard of the problems in any of his sections and was never informed by the T.A.’s of the overcrowding issue.

“If I had been alerted to any potential problems earlier in the semester, I could have looked into having the classrooms reassigned,” Kroenig said.

“Most decisions made by universities are collaborative – hardly anyone issues orders,” Pierce said. said. “I’m going to raise this issue with the government department. If we’re going to have this problem, then we should be insisting [that students must register sections through the registrar’s office]. But it shouldn’t happen – people should not be sitting on the floor, and we do take that very seriously.”

However, the rooms used for Kroenig’s International Relations sections in ICC hold only 23 students. Because the class contains 149 students and operates six discussion groups, sections for the class would almost inevitably be overbooked regardless of the method used for assigning students to them.

The problem, however, is not unique to International Relations discussion sections. The space limitations of one of Professor Elizabeth Prelinger’s Art History classes have angered students and teacher alike.

“The class is definitely packed pretty tightly,” said Diana McCue (COL ’11), who estimated that students would need to sit on the floor if there were perfect attendance. “It impacts the teaching in that it really [angers] Prelinger.”

cCue said the space is also not suited for the requirements of an art history class.

“It’s an inappropriate classroom for art history classes,” McCue said.

Administrators stressed that overcrowding problems would be reduced in the coming months when the new McDonough School of Business building opens.

“A good student-teacher ratio is very important to the quality of the educational experience Georgetown provides,” university spokesperson Julie Bataille said. “We know that space in general is an issue throughout campus, and plans for the new McDonough School of Business and Science Center will provide some additional classrooms.”

Pierce agreed that the situation would soon be remedied.

“Whatever pressure there is on the classrooms, it’ll be resolved in the fall,” he said. “Still, I will follow up on this issue even though the semester is almost over.”

In the meantime, some students are taking the problem in stride.

“This is Georgetown University, and every week we have a student or two sitting on the floor because there isn’t enough room to pull in more desks,” Ellen Greer (SFS ’11), a student in the International Relations discussion section, said in an e-mail. “[But] there are hundreds of public schools in this country that have graver space issues than we do. We’ll survive.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.