The Gustavian Weekly

Nobel department shuffling displaces classes: Temporary movement stirs up feelings of displeasure | The Gustavian Weekly

By Marie Osuna - Staff Writer | September 13, 2019 | News

The Nobel expansion has rolled out many bright and shiny spaces for Gusties this school year: the Laboratory Theatre, the STEAMery and even new learning kitchens available for all classes to use. Many departments, including Chemistry, Biology, and Environmental Science, have already moved into the new and improved Nobel and are loving it.

“It’s very nice, I like it a lot,” First-year Peter Turek said. Turek is taking the FTS “Evolution” with Professor Julie Bartley. “The labs are easy to navigate and have a lot of new equipment,” Turek said.

However, some departments are not feeling as thrilled about the current state of Nobel due to being displaced from the building entirely.

Geography and Geology departments are holding their classes in buildings all across campus this year and professors’ offices are temporarily housed in Confer-Vickner. These departments, which take a critical look at our earth, were both based in Nobel Hall last year, and are the only departments that had to currently move for construction. For some students, this change has been frustrating.

“I’m a Geography major so I don’t know a lot about the Geology side of things, but for Geography we have been severely displaced,” Sophomore Alma Jorgenson said, noting that both her major classes are being held in Anderson this semester. “I hope we get moved back to Nobel next year, but I haven’t heard anything for sure.”

Other students, however, are choosing to take a more positive outlook and embracing the change of location.

“It’s convenient for me because I’m in Sohre,” First-year Julia Stensaas said. “but as a first-year, I have no other point of reference.” Stensaas is taking Geography 102 with Visiting Associate Professor Jesse McClelland. The class is being held in Confer this semester.

Associate Professor Anna Versluis, who teaches Geography, Environmental Studies, and LALACS, also shared input on the department shuffling.

“[The Department of Geography faculty] thank the Departments of English, Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and Scandanavian Studies for sharing their building with us. We are enjoying the great views of the valley that Confer-Vickner affords,” Versluis said.

Versluis also added that the departments are not just in Confer-Vickner, but dispersed all across campus.

“Our [Geographic Information System] lab is in Beck, the wet lab is in Anderson, our maps are in the library, the Friday Geography Cafe is in Confer, and our administrative assistant is in the new Nobel,” Versluis said.

Although Versluis is embracing the changes, some students are still frustrated, confused and concerned about what being displaced says about how the College treats the departments. Some feel that by being moved, Gustavus is making a statement about which sciences are most valued.

“[Gustavus] makes us all feel like we are less of a science. It’s super stressful,” Jorgenson said.

“Geography has historically been an underrepresented major. Our headquarters are in a basement, admission tours often don’t go down there, and now we don’t even get to go into the New Nobel,” Jorgenson said.

Jorgenson also expressed worries about where the Geography department’s equipment and archives have ended up due to the construction.

Versluis, however, advises students to be patient as construction teams continue to work in Nobel Hall.

“We are asking students to be flexible as we work out glitches in our new spaces and routines,” Versluis said. “Any move takes a lot of work from a lot of people. Thanks to everyone on campus who has helped and made a place for us.”

The Nobel Hall renovation is expected to be completely finished by the beginning of the 2020 school year.

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