Classrooms are the business
of Sandra La Fontaine (left) and Linda Hull.
Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj
Enrolment is up 12 per cent, but where are all these students going to
fit? In an institution chronically suffering from a shortage of space,
the employees who are charged with finding the appropriate classrooms
have learned ingenuity, determination and patience.
This is among Linda Hulls duties in the Office of the Registrar.
She finds that at this time of year, crises, real or perceived, are endemic.
When we talked to her on the second day of classes, she had just discovered
that a classroom she was told had a capacity of 80 had room for only 60
People dont understand the ramifications of a little mistake
like that, she lamented, but she was already on the way to solving
The process of assigning classrooms takes 11 months. It starts in October,
when the faculties determine the maximum number of students in each course,
at which campus it will be given, and when. Hull and her team of one start
to analyze this data in January.
Our biggest concern is ensuring that we have sufficient rooms to
accommodate courses with enrolments of 60 or more students as there is
no rental space available at that size to help us out, she said.
The university has nine rooms on the Loyola Campus and 21 on the downtown
campus that will accommodate at least 60 students; the Alumni Auditorium,
H-110, is not a teaching space.
The majority of our classrooms will accommodate between 40 to 50
students, though, and we can rent more if needed.
On the downtown campus, Concordia rents classrooms at OSullivan
College, on Mountain St., for night classes, and the former Lasalle College,
on Drummond St. for both day and evening classes.
One would think that Hull is looking forward to the construction of our
new buildings. She is, but its getting from here to there
that Im worried about.
Because construction at Loyola has closed the Bryan Building, the university
has temporarily lost 1,000 student seats, a staggering challenge for Hulls
team. However, rooms have been rented in nearby St. Ignatius Church.
This process of trying to fit every class into an appropriate room is
like horse-trading. We sort of barter with the representatives of
the Faculties to come up with the best solution, Hull said.
There are many ways to go, depending on the flexibility they have:
find a bigger room, trade rooms with somebody else, adjust the capacity
of a course down or change the day or time. This can continue all during
the months leading up to the start of term.
This year, for the first time, much of the planning is being done with
computer software. What used to take three months can be done by the computer
in about an hour, but special requests still take up staff time.
Some teachers want the same classroom they had last year, or they want
the same room for two consecutive classes.
Many want high-tech classrooms. IITS is doing an incredible job
of retooling the classrooms, but not everything is up and running for
the first day.
The most popular times for classes are early evening. Mornings from 8:45
to 10 oclock used to be the least popular, but thats changing,
because it has to, Hull said. Friday used to be relatively class-free
for most Faculties, but Engineering and Computer Science is busy on Fridays,
especially since its enrolment has mushroomed.
Some complaints are not Hulls staffs responsibility
poor air, poor lighting, seats poached for another classroom, squeaky
doors but they must be handled patiently and reported to the appropriate
Were on the front lines. Its incredible pressure to
put on our scheduling assistant, Sandra La Fontaine, Hull said.
Finding space for exams can be less difficult, since the numbers are not
so huge, but on the other hand, Hull said, twice the space is needed,
because the students must be seated farther apart.