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Volume 70, Issue 79, Thursday, January 27, 2005

Opinion

UH should end enrollment squeeze

Lucas Mireles
Opinion Columnist

Along with the coming of the spring semester, the stench of rejection wafts from almost every professor's classroom in the Communication Building.

At this early point in the year, unfortunate students are pleading, begging and probably bargaining (hush, hush) with the majority of professors to be added to their 'in-demand' classes.

While some students have succeeded at this persuasion, others are being cautiously selected and turned away. These students are only left with hopes that someone may drop the course within the next few days, or they themselves will be struck with a slew of problems that range from scheduling conflicts to delaying graduation.

This problem is by no means limited to the School of Communication; it's just where this writer has had some first-hand knowledge. Students are trying to get an education, but there is absolutely no place for them without compromising the projected curriculum and creating a physically uncomfortable environment for students and teachers.

Professors are being put in awkward positions of power when the "selection" process begins for their classes. This is a situation that no faculty member should have to deal with; especially when someone's current life schedule hangs in the balance.

In some cases, compassionate professors will admit too many people because they simply love to teach and truly care for the students' well being and development. This is a gracious gesture, but it eventually causes backlash, in the form of extra work for the professor that, I guarantee, is not included in the fine print of his or her contract.

Another obvious problem that arises is the lack of physical space to accommodate students. Where do students go when all of the desks and computers are occupied? Usually, they take to the ever-inviting floor, where they continue to pursue their ‘higher' education from a visually impaired angle and a more buttock-toughening position.

What has the University done to appease this moral problem of non-education? Some professors have suggested, in "between you, me and the fencepost" conversations, that the University lacks the funds to offer more classes, and it will not dip deeper into the red depths of over-budgeting just to encompass a few unfortunate students who just 'missed-out' this semester when scheduling dues came around.

Other, more bitter individuals will ascribe the lack of money allowance for their attached department to a thinly supported politically-scandalous-conspiracy theory that the University has it out for them. This is certainly not outside the realm of reason, but it surely couldn't be the absolute truth either.

It all ultimately boils down to these types of problems: classrooms are too small, sections are too few, teachers are spread too thin, money is too scarce, and of course the usual slogan: "The University doesn't like our department" is used too much.

The financial situation of the University and its availability to create more sections and classrooms for the demanding mob of knowledge junkies known as the student body, is largely unknown to me. 

Some decision makers must know by now just how difficult it is for students to wait another semester to take a mandatory class that has been filled, before they can continue on to their upper level classes. 

The University heads must also be aware of how some labs and classes become filled and closed even before they are opened to the general student body by priority registration. Not that priority registration is wrong, but there is something not right when eager students on scheduling day are shut out even before they can get a step into the door.

In business, when the demand is up, supply must follow. It is obvious that this example must be implemented at this University in order for a "higher learning" and not a "you're-lucky-you're-learning" principle to be fulfilled at this much esteemed institution.

Maybe the University could entertain other creative problem-solving methods such as more distance education, as well as online courses and more fluid ties with surrounding learning outlets like Houston Community College.

These people want to learn to better their situation, and if they can't get it here, maybe The University of Phoenix Online can help them. At least the parking would be better.

Mireles, an opinion columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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