GW fails to clarify location of classes

GW students who unknowingly registered for courses at the Mount Vernon campus were frustrated on the first day of the new semester when they could not find their classes.

Students enrolled in several English 11 sections, economics 12 and statistics 53 searched for a building designated “ACAD,” under which many Mount Vernon courses were listed. Internet course listings did not designate on which campus the course was being held.

“Students expected to have classes at Foggy Bottom,” said undergraduate Student Association Sen. Alexis Rice (CSAS). “Students deserve to know where their classes are being held.”

Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president for academic planning and special projects and one of the creators of the University class schedule, said several factors contributed to students’ confusion about class location.

The preliminary schedule of classes did not list courses or sections held at Mount Vernon because adminstrators still were researching which courses Mount Vernon students would like to take on the all-women’s campus.

From a survey of Mount Vernon women, the University established a list of classes to be held at the campus, which did not appear until the final schedule of classes was printed after registration began, Linebaugh said.

Sections held at Mount Vernon were listed in the final schedule of classes with an “M” next to their listing. For example, English 10, section 10M meant the class would be held at the Foxhall Road campus.

“I registered for English and thought it was at Foggy Bottom,” wrote Jonathan Geraci in an e-mail. “I disregarded the `M’ not realizing the significance.”

The notation should have signaled to students that the courses would be held at Mount Vernon, Linebaugh said. But he said he understands the frustrations students face when trying to schedule classes.

“I am not so old that I can’t remember how hard it is to build a schedule, so I can see where that would happen,” he said.

Students who consulted the class listings on the GW Web site, however, did not see a clear indication of class locations.

“On the Web, the field for the section numbers did not have enough space in the field for the `M’ (signifying Mount Vernon),” Linebaugh said. “We did not realize that it was not showing up – this is a programming problem.”

Associate Registrar Nancy Albert said the Registrar’s Office placed a request to add Mount Vernon to the Web site six weeks ago, but the information has not been processed.

But she added the Registrar’s Office sent letters to Foggy Bottom campus students to inform them that their courses were held at Mount Vernon.

Linebaugh also said the schedule of classes included a clarification of class location – to avoid the confusion between the Academic Center and Mount Vernon academic building, the location of courses held in the Foggy Bottom Academic Center are always listed as “PHIL” or “ROME,” not “ACAD.”

Sophomore Jessica Love said she unknowingly registered a Mount Vernon course, but still had enough time to change the class after she received a letter from the registrar informing her of the location.

“Students who registered late to add or drop courses might have missed the location of the course,” Linebaugh said.

Administrators informed instructors in freshman advising classes, and advisers in the Elliott School of International Affairs and School of Business and Public Management that some classes are held at Mount Vernon.

“The University did not provide proper information to students,” Rice said. “Students deserve to know where their classes are.”

“If people are harboring suspicions, there is a much more benign answer,” said Kim Moreland, associate dean for undergraduate affairs in the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences. “This is a new venture and it is an adventure of integrating two institutions.”

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