Students and faculty in the English department have started an online petition against the administration’s planned takeover of classroom assignments in Denney Hall.
“The staff and faculty offices will be in Denney Hall and a few of our classes will remain,” said Marlene Longenecker, associate professor emeritus, in an e-mail. “The rest of our classes, [about 80 percent], will be placed wherever the registrar wants them.”
Students and faculty within the English department have grown accustomed to the sense of community they have because all of their classes and offices are in Denney Hall. But come Spring Quarter, they believe the registrar’s office will take away priority scheduling and disperse English classes randomly across campus.
“The university hired a “space consultant” awhile ago, and one of their recommendations was to recentralize the scheduling by the registrar and take all but 20 percent of it away from departments who do it themselves,” Longenecker said.
Students, growing frustrated with the proposed changes, decided to fight back and started an online petition to gather signatures in opposition to the plans.
In little more than a week, the English department has gathered almost 600 signatures.
“We decided to start the petition so students would be able to have our voices heard in a decision that will profoundly affect the way we learn,” said Andrew Mikac, a third-year in English.
Mikac is an officer in the English Undergraduate Organization, as well as a representative in Undergraduate Student Government. He and two other students thought up the idea to start the online petition.
“Right now, the ability to centralize a large department like ours in Denney creates a community atmosphere,” Mikac said. “If the English department were to lose priority scheduling there, students would begin to feel alienated from one another and Denney Hall would change from a place of friendly faces into a sea of strangers.”
Mikac said students and professors can easily hold meetings in Denney before and after class because classrooms and offices for English faculty are in the same building. Moving out of the building would make students less likely to communicate with professors and their teaching assistants, he said.
“So not only would reprioritizing Denney work to distance English students from each other, it would also reduce academic collaboration between students and faculty,” Mikac said.
Ideally, Mikac said, the university will hear the overwhelming student opposition to the move and recognize that community is more important than space maximization.
“At the very least, I want to make sure that students are able to lend their voices to an issue that will affect them,” Mikac said.
“If you look at the numbers, we have an excellent record of utilizing space,” said Elizabeth Renker, an English professor. “Our system is effective and efficient. Why fix the system if it’s not broken?”
Mikac said he hopes the administration will reconsider.
“I believe that if the university looks at the student opposition to this
issue, they will decide to forgo a change and support our community,” he said.
Personnel from the registrar’s office were out of the office and unavailable for comment.