Lack of designated English classrooms causes controversy

Yanessa Hernandez, Staff Writer

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This semester, many students and professors of Mesa have had the pleasure of experiencing class in the new math and sciences building. Compared to the classrooms in the older buildings, these new classrooms are a refreshing and delightful change in atmosphere. There is no question about it that the math and science courses have a nice, new home. The real question is, what is going on in the old, run down classrooms that have been left vacant? The answer is simple: English courses.

Since the English classrooms are now the old math and science classrooms as well as random classes scattered throughout the campus, it appears that there is no designated building for the department.

Assistant Chair of the English Department, John Gregg spoke on the matter.

“Out of every department in this campus, English is really homeless. We have 2 rooms in the C-building, and after that they sent us wherever there was space,” says Gregg.

“We are nomads. We go to S building, we go to MV, we go to I, we go where there’s a room. Where there’s a room, they send English there,” Gregg later added in the interview, emphasizing the problem.

Chair of the English Department, Jennifer Cost, cleared up the situation a bit when the issue with the condition of these classrooms was brought up to her.

“I want to kind of contextualize that a little bit,” she stated. Cost then added, “The English department is the largest department on campus, so we need a lot of rooms. We have a variety of different rooms. Some classes are taught in the brand new math and science building and some classrooms on the other end of the spectrum are taught in the classrooms that the sciences just moved out of.”

When the semester began, some classrooms contained remaining science supplies. Cost and Gregg explain that the professors were not to be given these rooms in such condition to deal with.

“They [Facilities Department] assured the science faculty that they would clean up those classrooms, so they would take away and dispose of anything that the science faculty didn’t label as going into the new building,” Cost says, “They didn’t do what they said they were going to do.”

“I think the least they should do, they being the administration, is make sure that those rooms are accommodating to a minimum degree and they aren’t, Gregg stated.

According to Cost, the lack of facilities to take care of this task played the main role in the issue.

“The reality is that we have few people in Facilities and we have a humungous campus that keeps increasing in size with the new construction and then people on disability leave,” stated Cost.

Supporting Cost’s statement, Gregg says, “That’s true. We’re really under funding Facilities here at Mesa and other campuses too.”

During interview, whether or not Cost felt it was unfair that there be a building dedicated to math and science, but not English was brought to question.

“We have all of the funding allocated, you know, for different schools and different departments. I think eventually we’ll get there. Right now we don’t have it but I’m really happy for math and science faculty who are in such great facilities,” says Cost.

Agreeing with Cost, Gregg did not consider it unfair of new buildings being built for other subjects.

“I can’t say that it’s unfair because the proposition that passed did specify what buildings they would be. They wanted a math and science building. They wanted the social science building, which is on its way up.”

Mayra Puentes, a student here at Mesa, was informed that the reason for the situation of the classrooms and their placement was due to funding issues. She was then asked if she felt it was unfair with knowledge of the facts.

“I personally feel that it is unfair, mostly because my English class is across campus from my math class and they’re right after each other so it’s nearly impossible to get to class on time and in result, I always miss the beginning of the lesson,” says Puentes.

In explanation to the remains of old lab supplies as well as new classrooms for math and sciences rather than English, Cost turned to explain that the funding and economic situation probably played the biggest role in these issues.

“We don’t have enough funding, we don’t have enough people, we don’t have enough classrooms, so sometimes we end up with situations that are much less than ideal for students primarily and for faculty, too,” says Cost. “We’re just coming out of the worst economic crisis in the state’s history so it’s going to take a while, it’s going to be slow, I’m confident that we’ll get there.”

Since money is an issue Mesa College is facing when it comes to classrooms, Cost was asked if she felt the complaints regarding them were unjustified.

“No, I don’t think so,” she responded. “I think our complaints are justified and we’ll get there but we also have to be patient given the reality of our facilities, the reality of the number of the people that we have cleaning the buildings, the reality of the number of classrooms we have available, and given the reality of the state funded community colleges,” Cost added, “We’re probably going to have to go out for another bond to be able to build a new building, but we keep pushing for that.”

Gregg was also questioned about whether or not he felt the complaints were unjustified and had a different reaction.

“Oh, no. I think we should be loud. We, English, have been treated badly in terms of classrooms and we have no rooms of our own really,” says Gregg.

“I would say that students and teachers still have the right to complain and speak their minds because, like them, I don’t really see a difference in the importance of math and English,” stated Puentes in agreement with Gregg.

When asked if they had any additional comments, both Cost and Gregg had different but understandable opinions.

“I just want rooms that are clean and that are useful as English classrooms. Not just send us to whatever is left, which is what we’ve gotten for years,” says Gregg. “I’ve been here a long time and I’ve told colleagues in these department meetings that I don’t see an English building in my time.”

“You just kind of have to have the big picture in mind, be persistent, not ignore a problem, but also be realistic about what can happen in the immediate future and what can happen further down the pike,” said Cost.