Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Will I ever graduate?


When 12:01 a.m. hits the clock on April 8, I will be in a virtual race with other sophomores on myfau.fau.edu to register for summer and fall classes — a race that will most likely end with my panic attack.

If I don’t get into Introduction to Media Studies (MMC 1540) for next fall semester, I’m probably going to lose my Bright Futures scholarship.

I’ve been trying to get into that class, one of th

e introductory courses for a multimedia journalism major, since summer of 2009.
A year ago, I talked to Fred Fejes, the professor of the class, and Manjunath Pendakur, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. Pendakur told me to beg, and Fejes told me he couldn’t add more students due to fire regulations.

“Be patient. Then you beg and borrow to let the professor let you in,” said Pendakur in an interview last summer.

The MMC 1540 class is only offered once a semester, on Tuesdays and Thursdays with 50 seats.

“I get e-mails from students every semester trying to get into my class. When there is a size limit on a class, it’s because of fire regulations. I e-mail the students back and say that’s why I can’t let them in,” said Fejes the first time I spoke to him.

Registration is around the corner, and I’m determined to get into this class — even if I have to get someone to sign up for the class and hold it for me until I can register. 
On March 24, I went to Vada Taylor’s office, program assistant at the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, to get advising on class options. I explained to her my dilemma and stressed that I have Bright Futures, which requires at least 12 credit hours during the fall and spring semesters. If I don’t have the minimum credit hours, I lose my whole scholarship.

“You’re blocked until you take MMC 1540,” said Taylor.In other terms: I’m screwed.
She told me I won’t be able to continue taking the core classes in my major until I get into this class.

Although she did advise me to go to a different school to take it.

“Take MMC 1000 as a transfer student [at Palm Beach State College],” she said.

As an FAU student, why do I have to travel to another college to take a class FAU should offer?

According to Susan Reilly, director for the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, until the economy changes, more students like me are going to get “stuck.””The size of the program increases regardless of how many teachers,” said Reilly. She explained the budget cuts have frozen the university from hiring more professors. “Even though there may be more students admitted to the university, if there is a hiring freeze, you can’t hire anybody.”

The best FAU can do is replace professors who retire and raise the GPA requirement for the multimedia studies program (which they’ve done twice already, from a 2.0 to a 2.5).
Reilly explained there have been discussions about putting an entry test to the News and News Reporting class, one of the required classes in a multimedia journalism major. She explained the test would help decrease the amount of students vs. professor in the class. If put in place, the test wouldn’t affect students currently in the program.

“What we are very upset about at this point is that we are having trouble getting kids through in four years. That is a really bad situation,” she said.

Last semester, after the first day of registration, Reilly collected the data and saw after senior enrollment almost all the classes were already filled.

“I take this data and take it to the provost and to the dean and say, ‘Stop letting people in if you can’t graduate them in four years’. No one in admissions is saying we can get you out of here in four years. It puts the faculty in a terrible [state of mind] because they see the kids over for class, after class, and the kids get upset because they can’t get the classes they need and they can’t graduate on time. Really, it’s not the fault of the faculty; it’s the fault of the state budget,” said Reilly.

Currently 1,038 students are registered in the School of Communication, and 381 are in the multimedia studies program. According to Reilly, the school graduates about 150 students a year.

If FAU continues to overload the professors and department with students they can’t put in classes, then my goal of graduating in four years won’t happen. 

I told Reilly about my Bright Futures predicament, and she gave an uplifting suggestion.

“My advice is to take classes that you think will help your major. If you want to be a journalist, the more information you have, the better. We are hoping our students will have some substance when they graduate and the work they do will be helpful to other people,” she said. “The whole idea behind communication, the thing we are focused on, is the problem of ‘How do we get people to understand one another?’ We want our students to send the most important messages to the people so they can function well in this culture.”

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