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How do you deal with class “gate-crashers?”

Posted on October 25th, 2011 by Anne Cardale, OLLI National Resource Center

Susan H. Poole, NC Center for Creative Retirement at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, Asks OLLI:

How do you deal with people who are not registered for a class, but see an empty seat and take it? This is unfair to people who have paid for the class and those on a class waiting list.

8 Responses to “How do you deal with class “gate-crashers?””


  1. We had this problem at Illinois as well. I sent a friendly email to our OLLI listserv, reminding them that we need to make sure the class spaces are reserved for people who are registered. However, we don’t “police” the classrooms; the vast majority of our members respect the reason we must limit attendance.


  2. We also had this problem, so we started producing name badges with stickers for each term, so that there would be a simple visual of who had registered and who hadn’t. We also take attendance the first couple of weeks of class, so that we can note who is a member and who has not joined yet. We have volunteers who remind people to bring their name badge to class. This seems to have really helped solve the problem. Good luck.


  3. Each class has a classroom assistant - a volunteer member. Their duties include making the coffee and hot water, making copies for the instructor, taking attendance, and communicating how the class is going with the office. We ask them to note the name and phone number of anyone not on the class roll. We then followup to assist that person with their registration if indeed they are not yet registered. Sometimes it is just a timing issue between when we porinted the roll and when the stuudent registered.

    We also state the policy in our catalog and on the website.

    Attending Classes for Which You Are Not Registered

    You must be registered for all classes you attend. This includes attending a different section of a class. If you would like to register, please contact the office before attending the class. You will be accommodated on a space available basis. Sitting-in on a class disrupts the experience for those students who are legitimately registered for the class. Please respect your fellow students and instructors by not attending classes for which you are not registered.


  4. At the University of Arkansas we handle the scenerio the same way University of Utah. We have class Ambassadors who take roll, welcome the members, and communicate with the office. The office will then assist with registration if they need to do so……we have a policy as well.


  5. At Southern Oregon University, we pass around attendance sheet sign-ins at each class session. At the bottom of the sheet, we put a notice in red about the class being over booked and not to sign in unless you are already on the attendance sheet. If there are still gate crashers, I talk to the attendees before the class begins and reiterate our policy. This usually helps but I haven’t found anything that works completely.


  6. UNF OLLI has a model similar to Cathy House’s. We have a member liaison who greets folks and checks them in for each class. If a student has a balance due or hasn’t yet registered, they are asked to come back to the office before taking a seat.

    That said, we have a new problem. Students out of town for extended periods ask a friend to sit in on their class for the 6 weeks they are away.

    These issues and several others centered on our rapid growth have caused us to start to develop an FAQs and member info instert that can be pulled out of our catalog. In fact, what used to be our “curriculum catalog” is morphing into a “member handbook.” That morph will allow us to “demystify the automagical” working of the organization.


  7. We create a rollsheet for each class and have a volunteer class monitor check in members for each class. We allow members to bring a guest, one time only, to visit any class that is not full. If someone shows up for a class who is not registered, we ask them to complete that process before taking a seat. We provide instructions and registration forms to each monitor at the beginning of a session.

  8. #8 by: Joan Gillis

    OLLI at Granite State College (NH)has a combination of everyone’s practices. our Class Assitants (volunteer members) take attendance based on an enrollment report we send to them ahead of time. If someone not on the list shows up, they are welcomed into the class. After class the assistant lets the office know and we follow up with the person unless it is a timing issue - we enroll people right up to the last minute. All members receive a guest coupon that allows them to introduce a non-member to OLLI via ONE class on a space-available basis. This practice has led to some limited serious abuse: members using a guest pass to attend a class themselves, bringing non-members without calling first, using the guest pass for a multi-session class, etc. We have changed the wording on the guest pass to say, “non-member guest pass” which has helped some. We have also had registered members send someone in their place if they cannot attend. This wreaks havoc in classes that have waiting lists. Other than educating the members, we have no answer to this one.

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