Chem 17 Students Search for Seating

Chemistry 17, "Principles of Organic Chemistry," isn't supposed to be an easy course. But for many of this semester's pre-med pen-clickers, the hardest part so far may be finding a good seat--or any seat at all--in Science Center D.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, most of the 326 students in the chemistry class vie for the room's meager 250 seats. "Late-comers"--those who don't arrive at class before 8:55 a.m. for the 9:07 lecture--are often relegated to the aisles or the back of the room.

"It's kind of annoying," Mariesol Gonzales `96 said. "We pay tuition to go to school here and you shouldn't have to worry about getting a seat."

At yesterday's class, about 40 students did not get seats even though most of them arrived before the professor began lecturing.

Several students in the class said they find the situation frustrating. Gonzales said that last Wednesday she arrived at the Science Center at 8:45--22 minutes before class was to start. But impeded by throngs of students, she was unable to actually get into the lecture hall until 9:15.


By then, only standing room was left, so she decided to leave and watch the lecture later on video.

But even the camera operator had trouble getting a seat that day, and Gonzales said the video was "horrible."

Gonzales said this Wednesday she arrived in the lecture hall at 8:30 a.m. and it was already about one-fourth full. By the time Mallinkrodt Professor of Chemistry George M. Whitesides '60 arrived a half-hour later, the aisles were packed and he had to step over students to make it to the lectern.

Whitesides said although he does not think students should have to sit in the aisles, no alternatives are available. Two lecture halls in the Science Center--rooms B and C--are bigger than room D, but they are also occupied by large classes on the same days at the same time.

These classes, Chemistry 5 and Chemistry 10, have 327 and 360 students, respectively.

Chemistry Head Tutor James E. Davis said no large lecture halls outside the Science Center with adequate blackboard space are available at that time.

Chemistry 17 has historically enrolled only about 240 students, according to Head Teaching Fellow Charles R. Allerson.

Allerson said the high enrollment this year is partly due to a significant number of Harvard graduates coming back to fulfill their pre-med requirements. And Whitesides said enrollment in most science classes has gone up in recent years.