Assistant News Editor
A VCU student is circulating a petition that says the university should offer more classes for students instead of focusing on construction and expansion.
Brittiny Wolfe, a junior health sciences major at VCU, started the petition last Friday after hearing about new construction projects VCU has in the works. She posted the petition on Facebook and sent out mass emails to students in her current and previous courses.
In its first three days, 98 students signed the petition. After the first week, Wolfe has 140 signatures, 60 shy of her initial goal of 200.
Wolfe encouraged supporters of the petition to submit specific courses they had trouble enrolling in for spring 2012 so she could submit a list along with the petition to Reuben Rodriguez, associate vice provost and dean of students at VCU.
So far, she has compiled a list of 35 classes across the sociology, mass communications, health, physical education and exercise science, psychology, social work and environmental science departments, respectively.
“Students now have to fight to get into their classes, and I feel like unless we as students collectively say, ‘Hey, you need to give this issue more attention. We deserve to graduate on time,’ then the issue is just going to get brushed aside,” Wolfe said.
Chief among Wolfe’s concerns is the likelihood that students who can’t get into their core courses during the fall or spring semesters might not graduate in four years. This possibility burdens students financially in the long run, Wolfe said.
“Even if there were classes offered at inconvenient times, if there was enough of them, then it would just be an individual student’s problem (if they couldn’t enroll), but this isn’t just my problem or your problem. It’s affecting every single major here,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe said she thinks hiring faculty and staff is more important than continuing the expansion of the Monroe Park Campus, a point that she specifically states in the petition, which reads: “Students should be the first and foremost priority (for the university), not campus aesthetics.”
Rodriguez said the university is faced with the predicament of having enough classes for VCU’s increased enrollment so students can graduate on time. He said Wolfe’s petition will benefit the cause.
“It’s always helpful to have this kind of data so we can send it to the Provost’s office, and she can start working with the colleges and schools and faculty and deans to look at the problem so we can offer more class sections, and students can progress towards graduation,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he is not sure if the new prerequisite registration system that was implemented for Spring 2012 affected students’ ability to enroll in certain courses, but said the system’s goal was to ensure students are able to take courses within their major in the appropriate sequence.
Although Wolfe’s petition isn’t critical of the current registration system, she said amending the system to favor class ranking over credit standing would quell some students’ registration woes.
“I think VCU is doing a great job trying to distinguish itself,” Wolfe said, “but I really think this is an issue that needs tending to.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, VCU has a four-year graduation rate of 24 percent for the Fall 2002 cohort and 23 percent for the Fall 2004 cohort.
For more information about the petition, contact Brittiny Wolfe at firstname.lastname@example.org.