Editorial | Cohen renovations a hindrance to learning
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 07:09
There are a variety of reasons a prospective Jumbo becomes a Jumbo. Many students choose Tufts for its small class sizes and the accessibility of its professors. Even the several introductory courses at Tufts that accommodate hundreds of students are supplemented with recitations to provide more individualized attention. Principles of Economics (EC 5) is an example of such a class.
EC 5 is one of the more — if not the most — popular classes at Tufts. As a prerequisite for higher-level economics courses and a core requirement for the international relations major, EC 5 often enrolls over 400 students per semester. Cohen Auditorium is the only place on campus that can comfortably seat such a large number of students.
As a result of recent renovations to Cohen — including the implementation of new lighting and seating — the space has been unavailable all summer and will continue to be out of service until at least early October. This has forced EC 5 to relocate. Students have been split up into two groups; the majority of students are treated to Distler Performance Hall, which seats 300, while the remaining students attend the course in absentia via a Web feed in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room. Presumably to make this situation fair to all students, the students in SoGo rotate after every four classes. Students are expected to endure several abnormal classes before they can hopefully take their place in Cohen.
Occasional construction on academic buildings is understandable, as is projects inevitably taking longer than anticipated. After paying one of the highest tuitions in the nation, however, students should not have to watch a webcasted lecture — not to mention all the problems that can arise with live-streaming technology. Glitches, freezes, delays and time wasted on all of the above are sure to occur.
And how will the students in SoGo ask questions? When the physicality of attending a lecture is taken away and replaced with a Web feed, educational opportunity is lost, and the scholastic growth of students is impaired. Those in EC 5 could have decided to not pay a high tuition and instead watched free alternatives to the class in their own homes. But they did not. They chose to be at Tufts, and they chose to attend the lectures.
EC 5 is being live-streamed to students who enrolled in that class and expected to be present in that class simply because the only space large enough to hold the lectures is unavailable. Yes, Cohen needed to be revamped, but the construction has disrupted the education of many students. Renovations should have been completed before the start of the semester, as originally planned.