This football season includes three home games that take place on weekdays. With these games comes the cancellation of classes. However, for students who are studying to be helpers and healers, that also comes with the closure of the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) building.
As the season goes on, football games have begun happening during the school week; more specifically, on two Thursdays and one Tuesday of the semester. Because of this, the College of Health and Human Services “gets shut down due to what the WMU calls safety concerns" and for the benefit of holding the student tailgate in the parking lot.
These cancellations have been an issue for some students and professors who have classes in the CHHS building on game days.
Hannah Treber, a junior studying for her bachelor’s in social work, says the building closure is likely more of an issue for professors.
“(It) isn’t a huge inconvenience to me as a student, but I think that it could be a big inconvenience for the professors who have to find a different classroom on main campus that they may not be comfortable with,” Treber said.
One professor who has had her classes affected is Gretchen Slenk, who teaches Social Work 3500 weekly on Thursdays.
“I did not know classes would be affected at the beginning of the semester so I didn’t plan my syllabus around building closures,” Slenk said.
Debbie Quinn, another student majoring in social work, had her classes affected last year as well.
“When my class was moved to main campus I couldn’t find the building, so I missed class. I was not happy because it was a class with my favorite teacher,” Quinn said.
However, there are also students and teachers who applaud the college for considering the safety and school spirit that comes with the student tailgate.
Professor Patricia Criswell, who teaches Social Work 3200 is in support of the building closing.
“There’s more to tailgating than just people getting drunk,” Criswell said. “There’s school spirit and a mutual cause to support the school. It can also give students a sense of community.”
Mckenzie Frame, a junior who has classes in the CHHS building, enjoys the tailgates.
“It’s a great way to show school spirit,” Frame said. “It’s (building closures) very beneficial because I won’t have to miss class or risk parking near the tailgate.”
Professor Criswell says that having to alter her class schedule pushed her creatively.
“As a social worker, flexibility is just my life, that’s why I don’t think about the building closing as an inconvenience. As people who are learning to be helpers and healers, that’s just part of the job we’re going to experience. It’s the responsibility of the instructors to be accommodating and if there’s a complaint to be made, it’s to the instructors to give good content when classes are altered,” Criswell said.
In regards to being reassigned to a classroom on main campus, Professor Criswell says that the University offers alternative places to meet.
“I have faith that if there was a problem with the reassigned classroom, that the school would be very accomodating,” Criswell said.
The question of if the University puts more attention on sports than they do on academics, resulted in mixed feelings.
Hannah Treber feels the University does put more attention on sports than academics.
“If the university is going to accept having a football game on a school day and be okay with cancelling student classes, then that makes it very clear the university has a higher upholding for football than its academics,” Treber said.
Quinn agrees: “They’re putting sports before class time. Why would a class from 2:00 to 4:30 need to be cancelled? The parking lot isn’t full during tailgate time and if classes start before tailgating does, let us go to class.”
Professor Criswell says otherwise.
“Closing the building shows a gesture of cooperation,” Criswell said. “If the school wasn’t cooperative then it would send a message of intolerance. The message being sent with the building closure is one of working together and showing respect for alumni and the student body”.
And then there are some who believe there’s no clear answer to the question like Professor Slenk.
“It’s a hard balance because both athletics and academics are important components for students and the University,” Slenk said. “The University has a challenging job in trying to meet the needs of all of their programs. At the same time, as an instructor my top priority is to my students and making sure learning is happening before tailgating”.
“As far as messages go, closing the entire building for tailgating can certainly have the potential of sending mixed messages to our students. They may interpret this as a green light for taking their commitment to class and learning too lightly.”
On Thursday Nov. 1, the CHHS building closed at 3 p.m. If any classes were held before that time and went past 3 p.m. students had to park their cars in the faculty parking lot.
The upcoming game on Tuesday Nov. 20, right before Thanksgiving break, may affect CHHS students with any Tuesday classes.
Make sure the CHHS instructors are vocal about the class plan and be sure to check the bus schedule in case buses stop running in order to shuttle fans to Waldo Stadium.