I stand by the argument I made a few days ago: the “cut session” in which administrators cancel courses only serves to destroy the very foundation of the university: students pursuing their education. In order to provide further evidence for this argument, I will examine several of the courses that were cancelled in the Spring 2015 semester. To be clear, I am only looking at courses cancelled in the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), since I received a detailed spreadsheet of all courses in the CAS for the semester, detailing which courses were kept and which were cancelled. In addition, I’m sure faculty in the programs affected could provide much more detail than I do here about each course and its relevance to their programs. I just try to focus on the most apparent problems of cancelling these courses.
The first group of courses that I will highlight are freshmen seminar courses, which presumably are best for students to take while they are freshmen. Two of these courses were cancelled in the Spring 2015 semester:
--BIOL 1000-61, Freshman Seminar in Biology (6 students registered when it was cut)
--C J 1099-01, Freshman Seminar in Criminal Justice (6 students registered when it was cut)
In both cases, these were the only sections of these courses offered. So, will students in these majors be exempt from such courses or will they have to take them after the courses are no longer useful?
A larger group of courses cancelled in the Spring 2015 semester are general education courses, typically also most useful to take early in one’s undergraduate education. These include courses for which there were no other sections, such as:
--ANTH 1010-01, Intro. to Cultural Anthropology (8 students registered when it was cut)
--PH S 1150-01, Basic Astronomy (5 students registered out of 20 max when it was cut).
Also, the only evening sections of many general education courses were cancelled, including:
--ENG 1240-61, Writer’s Workshop II (9 students registered out of 20 max when it was cut)
--ENG 1270-61, Composition I (6 students registered when it was cut)
--FREN 1020-61, Elementary French II (7 students registered when it was cut)
--MUS 1134-61, History & Appreciation of Music (6 students registered when it was cut)
--PH S 1100-61, Practical Physics I (5 students registered out of 20 max when it was cut)
Cancelling the only evening sections of general education courses puts students in these courses in difficult situations, since they are likely unable to take the daytime sections of these courses due to work, family responsibilities, or even other courses they are taking. Finally, there are cases like SOC 1010-01 & 1010-03, Intro to Sociology (8 & 9 students registered respectively when the sections were cut), which are both gen ed course and required for the major & minor in Sociology. Does the administration really think these two sections wouldn’t add another 3-4 students prior to the start of the semester? Even if they didn’t, what are these 17 students supposed to do?
The last major group of courses cancelled that I want to note are courses which are important for major programs and graduate programs. Often these are upper-level (3000 or 4000-level) courses, which presumably would not require as many students for the course to run successfully as one would need in an introductory level course. This group also includes core courses for major programs, which may be at the 1000 or 2000-level. Most of the time, these are the only sections of these courses offered. Here are just some of these kinds of courses which were cancelled for the Spring 2015 semester:
--AFAM 3020-61, The Great Debate (7 students registered when it was cut)
--BIOL 3055-61, Evolutionary Biology (5 students registered when it was cut): required course for Biology majors (at least those with Environmental Biology or Secondary Teaching options)
--CHEM 3240-01, Inorganic Chemistry (3 students registered out of 15 max when it was cut): required course for some Chemistry majors (Biochemistry option)
--C J 1200-61, Intro to Law (7 students registered when it was cut): only evening section of course, 2 daytime sections of course, 1 online section (but this was full), required course for all CJ majors
--C J 5870-51, Seminar: Social Inequality/CJ (7 students registered when it was cut): graduate seminar
--CPTR 3700-01, Communications & Computer Networks I (9 students registered when it was cut)
--GEOG 2230-51, Geography of the World Economy (5 students registered when it was cut): required course for majors & minors and for some Education programs
--HIST 2200-01, Key Problems in World History (4 students registered when it was cut): required for majors & also a gen ed (diversity) course
--HIST 2220-01, Intro to Historical Thought & Methods (6 students registered when it was cut): required for majors, also cut in Fall 2014 semester, included 2 graduating seniors in course
--HIST 4150/5150, History of Islam in West Africa (5 undergrad & 1 grad student registered when it was cut): one of few African history courses (and all other African history courses were also cancelled), grad student in course specializing in history of West Africa
--POL 2210-21, Public Administration Principles (7 students registered when it was cut): core course for one of key area of discipline/major
--POL 3300-61, Public Management (6 students registered when it was cut)
--POL 3380-61, Women and the Law (6 students registered when it was cut)
--SOC 3350-61, Complex Organization (5 students registered when it was cut)
--SOC 4560-01, Social Welfare Policy (8 students registered when it was cut)
What’s particularly striking about this long list of courses cancelled in major programs is the importance of these courses for students with these majors, which means students enrolled in most (if not all) of these courses have likely been set back in their plans to complete their majors.
In closing, let’s look again at the lack of consideration paid to students’ schedules, which we already saw in the cancellations of evening sections of general education course such as C J 1200-61, ENG 1240-61, ENG 1270-61, FREN 1020-61, MUS 1134-61, and PH S 1100-61. Outside of these general education courses, we can also find courses useful to students in particular majors which had evening, such as:
--BOT 2050-61, Algae/Plants/Fungus (5 students registered when it was cut)
--MATH 1420-61, Calculus II (5 students registered when it was cut)
And, just so students who can only take courses primarily in the day weren’t left out of the process, the administration also cancelled CMAT 1130-01, Communications for Professionals (6 students registered when it was cut), which was the only daytime section of the course offered for the semester.
So, what’s the take away from this analysis of courses cancelled in the Spring 2015 semester? First, while some specific programs might have been harmed more than others, the cancellations were far reaching and affected students at various stages of their education – from freshmen, to general education students, to students completing their majors – and students enrolled in a wide array of courses. Second, given the breadth and depth of the course cancellations, it seems unlikely that students enrolled in these courses will find it easy to replace their cancelled courses with other courses equally useful or relevant to their education. With the large number of evening sections cancelled, I wonder if students in these courses can even find any courses at all to take at this point. Finally, it seems clear that courses cancelled this semester have done significant damage to students’ education. As one student who emailed me recently asked, “words cannot describe how frustrated I am … How do they [the administration] expect [me] to complete [my] degree? It is outrageous, and this is one of the reasons why enrollment is steadily dropping.”