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Crowding leaves students in a tight spot

As I waited for my professor to enter the room and begin today’s lesson in Shiffman, I came to the realization that the rows between desks were too narrow. Indeed, the classroom measured perhaps 20 by 20 feet, and yet there were more than 40 desks packed into this small space.

The number of seats per room presents a conundrum. College exists to educate, so logic might lead one to assume that the more students that can fit in a classroom, the more students can receive a quality education, and the more that the mission of education is fulfilled. That being said, there comes a point when the mission of educating lots of students collides with the obstacle of the cap on the number of desks that can reasonably fit a certain area.

Quite a number of the students in the room noticed the cramped conundrum upon arrival. As more and more students sat down and set their bags by their seats, it became almost impossible for additional students to file in without pushing desks around and forcing others to get a little too up close and personal with their neighbors for the sake of letting someone through.

Once everyone got seated, it became quickly apparent that the volume of students in the small room raised the ambient temperature by a noticeable number of degrees. Everyone got to sit and sweat it out together as the professor spoke about desertlike, infertile land and famines. On such a hot early September day, this was no help.

What most sprang to mind with the crowding, however, was the thought of what would happen in the event of an emergency. I fear that such a classroom with that number of desks and students would be unable to promptly empty in the event of an evacuation. Student safety is always stated paramount to the university administration. However, there are always areas ripe for study and improvement to better safety—I suspect that some classrooms would find themselves worthy of a logistical review.

In addition to safety considerations, overcrowding in classrooms brings to mind education concerns. Do students learn the same when there are 35 students sitting shoulder to shoulder in a room designed to fit perhaps 20? How well does a student, attempting to pay attention, maintain their focus while a less dedicated neighbor is sitting inches away inexorably checking Facebook? How adequately can a professor view and communicate with the room they’re commanding if all the faces are practically side to side? I believe that sitting so tightly packed isn’t beneficial toward the ultimate goal of effectively educating.

I suggest that before embarking on another cycle of assigning classrooms to sections, a study should be initiated to see how many students should optimally fit in each classroom, and in cases of a classroom being an inefficient size for the classes it is to host, the location of the class should be reevaluated. I believe that instituting this review would lead to a safer, more favorable college environment.

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