By Ashley St. John
A part of SUNY Plattsburgh’s solution to in-person instruction during the pandemic includes holding large classes in the Angell College Center.
The Warren Ballroom and the Alumni Conference Room in the ACC have been used so that students can remain socially distanced while taking a class this semester. Desks have been moved into these rooms and spaced at least six feet apart from each other. Upon entry, all students are asked to sanitize their hands and then sanitize their desks as an extra precaution. While the move to these bigger rooms were necessary to help contain COVID-19, both students and professors are having a difficult time adjusting.
With the rooms in the ACC being larger than regular classrooms, some students find it difficult to hear when their professors are speaking, especially because rooms like the Alumni Conference Room are carpeted, which muffles sound much more than a hard floor would.
Some professors who teach in the ballroom are finding it harder to hear students too just because of the size of the room.
“When students try to answer a question, they speak too softly, and I and the class can’t always hear them, so I have to repeat what they say,” History Professor James Lindgren said. “I got a lapel microphone, but I don’t want to use the microphone at the lectern because it’s so far from the students, physically and psychologically.”
Lindgren has been a professor for 36 years at SUNY Plattsburgh, 40 years all together. This semester he teaches U.S. Civ II and Cold War but only his U.S. Civ II is being taught in Ballroom B. Along with the issue of hearing students, Lindgren finds it difficult because the lighting in the ballroom isn’t as bright as light would be in a normal classroom.
Lindgren said that they’re all doing their best. He’s used to teaching in Yokum Hall, where the corner rooms are up-close-and-personal so he got to know his students. Now, he said, the ballroom is cavernous, and that he won’t be able to get to know his students as well, especially with the masks covering the bottom half of their faces.
Isabella Minutillo, a junior biomedical sciences major, has two classes in the ballrooms. She has her genetics class in Ballroom A with Nancy Elwess and physics in Ballroom B with Ken Podolak. Minutillo also finds it a bit difficult to hear other students because of the mask restrictions so she said her professors will repeat what students say so that the rest of the class can hear.
Minutillo said that for the most part it’s not too bad because she’s used to big lecture rooms, specifically Hudson 106, but that it’s strange being in the ACC rather than Hudson. She said that, rather than the three whiteboards given in Hudson 106, the professors now use a projector to write things that they need to show the students.
“When I think of the ACC, I think of rush events and philanthropy [sorority] events, not school,” Minutillo said. “They’re trying their hardest to make it as normal as possible. It’s just weird.”