Petitioning students succeed in adding new sections

Two new sections of Finance 350 opened up Aug. 27, following a petition by business students who were crashing classes in an attempt to add the course.

Finance 350, or business finance, is an upper division core requirement for all business majors. Without it, students are unable to take the last few classes needed for graduation.

Quynh My Phan, a senior majoring in finance, said she found her graduation plans at risk because of difficulties in adding the course.

“I’ve tried adding it for three semesters already,” Phan said. “I was planning on graduating this spring, but it’s not happening.”

Marketing senior Ricardo Gutierrez said he has been trying to add Finance 350 without success for the past two semesters.

“I needed to finish this class to take Business 690; then I graduate,” Gutierrez said. “It’s literally the last class that I need.”

The accounting program is the only course officially impacted in the College of Business for the Fall 2015 semester, according to the University website. With 22.7 percent of SF State’s students enrolled in the college in 2014, according to data compiled by SF State’s Office of Academic Institutional Research, competition to enter Finance 350 was tight.

“I never encountered anything like this at (City College of San Francisco),” said Michael Blue, a senior transfer student majoring in information systems. “Lots of students are on waitlists and they’re still not getting in.”

All sections of the course were originally capped at 45 students, including a 10-person waitlist, according to the class bulletin on the SF State Student Center website. Even so, many students said they ended up missing out on classes.

Gutierrez and four other students who were also attempting to add the class came together to try to find a solution.

Finance Department Chair Ping Hsiao takes down the names of students with prerequisites who were waiting to be added to a new Finance 350 section in the Business building at San Francisco State University on Thursday August 27, 2015. (Joel Angel Juárez /  Xpress)

Finance Department Chair Ping Hsiao takes down the names of students with prerequisites who were waiting to be added to a new Finance 350 section in the Business building at San Francisco State University on Thursday August 27, 2015. (Joel Angel Juárez / Xpress)

According to Jasmine Ponce de Leon, a senior majoring in accounting, the group decided to create a petition for more sections of the highly sought-after class that is required for graduation. They collected over 30 names and email addresses of fellow students attempting to add the course.

“Although not easily done, we want something done about this issue whether it’s tomorrow, next week, next semester or the years to follow,” Ponce de Leon said in her call-to-arms post on the SFSU Class of 2016 Facebook group. “This cannot continue.”

The petitioning students met at the finance office Aug. 26 and managed to speak with the current department chair, professor Ping Hsiao, and the business advising personnel. Hsiao and his staff were sympathetic, but said they could not guarantee anything, according to Jeffrey McCormick, one of the business students who joined Gutierrez in petitioning for the class.

Business professor Herb Meiberger said he was empathetic to the students’ needs.

“The instructor’s helpless,” Meiberger said. “You have to understand that. There’s a metaphor– it’s like getting blood out of a turnip. There are only so many seats available.”

Meiberger originally taught three sections of Finance 350, more than any of his colleagues. He said that the demand for the course has been high since he started at the College of Business back in 2004.

“There’s all sorts of funding issues with the classes,” Meiberger said. “It’s the government bureaucracy.”

The administration added two new sections of business finance Aug. 27 to be taught by Meiberger.

Linda Oubre, dean of the College of Business, said in an email that even with student petitions and visible demand, the addition of sections is ultimately determined by the available campus budget.

“When additional funding is received, sometimes after the start of classes, as happened last week, we open up sections assuming we can find someone to teach them,” Oubre said.

Sara Koppes, one of the business students who spoke to Hsiao, said she believes student demand for the course was expressed not just through the petition, but also through other students’ individual efforts.

“Many other students went to Ping Hsiao on their own to try and make something happen,” Koppes said.

It is not very common to add sections, Oubre said, but the department tends to give highest priority to the courses with the highest demand.

“We encourage all business students to visit the department office on the third floor of the Science Building, or the Business Advising Center in BUS 112, should they experience any difficulties obtaining their classes,” Oubre said. “We will continue to do everything we can to help them complete their requirements as quickly as possible.”

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