The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN students move chairs from classrooms due to over-enrollment

Leslie Gillman, academic facilities coordinator, said chair allocation in classrooms is determined by the amount of square footage. Students are taking chairs from one classroom to another in hopes of adding classes. Photo Credit: Paul Kingsley / Photo Editor

Students are being turned away from classes because of the lack of chairs available in the classrooms.

Leslie Gillman, academic facilities coordinator, said classroom chairs rarely stay put, even though the Academic Resources and Planning (ARP) Department meticulously allocates the chairs every year.

“Every semester becomes this game of musical chairs,” she said. “We (the ARP) end up frantically trying to reallocate these seats to accommodate the students trying to add classes.”

The dilemma of the wandering seats is due to the fact that class enrollment is typically determined by the amount of seats allocated to a classroom.  Gillman said that at the beginning of each semester, the adding and removing of chairs occurs due to hopeful students trying to secure their place in a class.

“People just go and grab chairs,” she said. “This then creates a domino effect.”

This can prove problematic as many classrooms end up having a shortage of seats and professors are forced to turn away hopeful students trying to add a class, she added.

Gillman said she gets phone calls all day long from faculty regarding classroom space well into the first week of each class session. She said she does what she can to accommodate the many students trying to add classes, but that her department also has to adhere to specific instructions regarding classroom occupancy.

“Classrooms that have one door are only allowed 49 seats even if more fit,” she said. “We cannot exceed that number because it becomes a fire hazard.”

Lynn Wiegers, interim director of the Physical Plant Management (PPM), said he follows the instructions given to him by the ARP and has no say in the allocation process. At the beginning of each class session, the ARP instructs PPM on how many chairs are assigned to each classroom.

“We don’t determine the space or number of students allowed in a classroom,” Wiegers said. “We just try to keep track of the chairs. The ARP advises us as needed.”

Chair allocation is determined by the amount of square footage in the classroom, Gillman said. She added that changing the schematic of a classroom is not a simple matter.

“People think we have more chairs to distribute,” she said. “We actually don’t have extra chairs in storage. We also don’t have a budget to order more.”

Gillman said chairs are only ordered under special circumstances, which includes replacing broken or damaged ones; even in those cases, the ordering process is a lengthy one, she said.

Amanda Casillas, 23, apparel design and merchandising major, said the struggle to add a class has been a growing issue for some time now especially with smaller academic departments. She said she had to postpone her graduation date by a year due to her inability to add core classes that are mandatory for her academic program.

“My department is a small one,” Casillas said. “You’re lucky if there are more than one session of a class offered a semester.”

Although she has never seen the physical adding or removing of chairs, she mostly has witnessed the strict adherence to enrollment policies based on chair allocation in the classrooms, Casillas said.

“I always hear professors say as long as there’s enough chairs, I’ll add you,” Casillas said. “Where is this limit coming from?”

She said she has also had instances where her classroom location has been changed to a larger space due to lack of seats.

Gillman, who also coordinates room reservations on campus, said that although they may not have any control over the adding and removing of chairs in the classroom, she does her best to settle the situation by seeking larger venues for classes that are over-enrolled.

This semester in particular has been especially hectic, Gillman said, because the university has recently welcomed the largest freshman class. She said she does whatever she can to accommodate students and faculty and keep everyone happy, even though the options are limited.

“I really have no control over the moving chairs,” she said. “I just make whatever attempts I can to help.”

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