Sac State student forced to switch class sections due to unbalanced sections

School of Music relocates present student instead of absentee


Kendra Rivera-Molina

Sacramento State’s School of Music relocated a present student instead of absentee.

Kendra Rivera-Molina and Chris Wong

The Sacramento State School of Music reassigned eight students to a different class section of Music 10B, a Survey of Music Literature class, one of whom was reassigned without their consent.

Karen Sorenson, a secretary for the School of Music, announced to two sections of Music 10B that students needed to volunteer to move to another lecturer’s class. Otherwise, she would force them to move.

The three sections of Music 10B all meet in Capistrano Hall at the same time but in different classrooms, with three different instructors teaching the course. The class is intended for music majors but is open to non-music majors.

“Music 10 has lots of people in it, but they need personal attention, so we divide it into three sections instead of having a giant lecture class,” said Beverly Wilcox, one of the lecturers teaching Music 10B. 

Elijah Molina, a freshman music major, said Sorenson came to his section of Music 10B last Tuesday to ask for two volunteers to move to another section. He said the class went quiet when Sorenson announced students needed to move.

“No one said anything because everyone wanted to be in that class,” Molina said.

He said he likes how his instructor, Luis Chavez, one of the three Music 10B lecturers, focuses the class on the analysis of music over memorization.

Only one student volunteered in Chavez’s section. Then, Sorenson chose one student to involuntarily switch sections, Molina said. 

Molina said the student originally called on to switch sections was not present. Instead, she chose a student who was present.

“The person who wasn’t there should’ve been cut from the class,” freshman music major Ashley Olds said. 

She said removing a student who attended the first day was unfair when another student was absent.

Molina said people started clapping when the chosen student left to thank him for “taking one for the team.” He and Olds both said that they heard good things about Wilcox’s class, however. 


David Wells, who also teaches Music 10B, said that Sorenson came to his class and asked for students to volunteer to be reassigned to another section. 

“It was pretty quick in my class,” Wells said about students volunteering to change class section. “I think it was a group of six who looked at each other and said ‘sure.’” 

“I know some students who had been in my Music 10A class that definitely wanted to be in my class,” Wells said.

All three sections of the class were still open at the time of publication.

According to Wilcox, more balanced class sections are fairer to students and faculty. Students get more attention, and faculty does more proportionate work for the same pay.

The director for the School of Music, Ernie Hills, said that he was not made aware of the process in which students were asked to leave their sections, but that he supported equal course sizes. 

“This is a matter of student success,” Hills said. “As I’m sure you well know, students do better in small classes.” 

Wilcox said that students had to swap sections themselves on their student centers. Wilcox had to email her assignments to the added students because they did not appear on her Canvas. She also thinks it’s strange the class is open to non-majors when a student needs to have music reading ability in order to pass the course material.

“When they sign up for this, they don’t find out they have to be able to read music,” Wilcox said.

Not understanding the need to read music could pose problems for students Wilcox said.

“If they arrive the first day and don’t find that out until they get here, they’re not gonna be able to pass the course,” she said.

According to Hills, there are no prerequisites for the class with the intention to “make it possible for students to get general education credit.” 

However, the class syllabus and description on the Sac State Scheduler both list two music classes as prerequisites. The student center does not prevent students who have not met the prerequisites from registering for the class.

Music education senior Anthony Oliva said music classes like Music 10B have descriptions or titles that make the class appear accessible to students without Western musical knowledge. He said the contents of classes need to be clearer before students add them to their shopping carts.

“People that come from poor high schools like I did, you would just think it’s just another elective you can take, like tennis,” Oliva said.

Regarding any complaints students have within the School of Music, Hills said, “I would be pleased to help the student and find out the issue from their point of view and help them out.”

CORRECTION: Feb. 2, 2020

This story has been updated to reflect that Beverly Wilcox, David Wells and Luis Chavez are lecturers in the School of Music, not professors, as a previous version of the article incorrectly stated.