President of Manhattan College, Milo Riverso. MANHATTAN.EDU/COURTESY
By Mack Olmsted, Asst. Arts and Entertainment Editor
Manhattan College students and faculty have raised concerns about a new initiative at the college to raise class minimums to 15 students, essentially canceling classes with not enough students registered.
The initiative has not been announced publicly yet, but some faculty members have told The Quadrangle for the incoming plans.
Arshia Anwer, Chair of the communication department noted that before the current semester began, the provost met with faculty to discuss what this new initiative would look like, and how it will affect departments. The initiative will begin in the spring. However, this past fall the requirement was to have classes with at least 10 students, but for next semester it will be raised to 15.
If it is essential for the course to run, for example, a senior needs to take the course to graduate, the course might run as a tutorial.
With no official announcement from the office of the president, students only heard news about this through faculty and peers. This led to many students being confused and upset over the lack of communication.
Nayelis Minaya, a junior in the O’Malley School of Business, explained how the lack of communication was frustrating.
“I just think it’s very telling that the school is not telling the students this when a lot of them are not aware that maybe some of the courses that they were thinking of taking next semester are not happening,” Minaya said. “That’s obviously very unfortunate that the school is not communicating that.”
President Milo Riverso, Ph.D., did not provide a comment on the matter.
Associate professor in the Division of Education, William M. Furey, explained how the Division of Education will be changing and adapting their department due to the initiative. He explained that some classes can not function the same with more than 20 students participating. The methods class in particular has to undergo numerous changes. Before the initiative, a student was able to give a mock lesson for grades K-12, with the class being participants, but now he can’t teach under the same conditions.
While Furey said it’s not his ideal way of hosting the class, he ensures that he will put many hours into helping his students.
“I can’t guide the future teachers through different scenarios like a coach might do in a scrimmage,” Furey wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “I will have to watch hours of video outside of class time to provide feedback. As a department, though, we are figuring this out. We will definitely still make sure our students are prepared to pass their performance assessments that lead to certification.”
Before the fall semester, there was an email sent out to all the schools’ deans which led to multiple meetings with deans and department chairs discussing the situation.
Chair of the communication department, Arshia Anwer, discussed how these new changes and initiatives will affect the department. Anwer explained that in some classes it will be likely that they have less than 15 students.
“In terms of the class sizes, a lot of our classes are based on the equipment that we have and the students use,” Anwer said. “So for example, for a class in post-production that runs in the lab, we only have 15 computers. And so we have to have a class size that is 15 students that we can move through. Sometimes those cohorts might not be 15 students exactly. So we do have to run those classes anyway to move students towards graduation.”
Anwer mentioned that the most significant impact this spring will be the fact that they had to cut some of the planned special topics classes that they were hoping to run. Anwer talked about why the president wants to begin this initiative in the first place.
“But in order to make the best use of our resources efficiently, the president has said that we want to move towards maybe not running class sizes that are five-six students,” Anwer said. “It will be a little bit more helpful and efficient in terms of how we can provide a good quality education plus how we can provide resources for all the students to do the best that they can.”
Anwer shared how the Communication department will adapt in the foreseeable future.
“I mean, it is something that has made us think and look very closely about how we are serving our students even within the department,” Anwer said. “We have had to sort of look very closely at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, rather than just relying on the things that we’ve been doing in the past.”
Furey wanted to tell the Manhattan College community that the institution is trying to give students the best possible experience that they can have.
“This is a teaching institution, the type of faculty member who works here prioritizes their students’ experience, success, and well-being,” Furey wrote. “That won’t change. We will, to the best of our ability, do everything we can to maintain the excellent classroom experiences that are part of an MC education.”