Students Demand More

Ayanna Williams

The number of students on the waitlist for Political Science classes has skyrocketed over the last few years. This week, the Senate meeting focused on how to address and solve the issue of overcrowding in the classroom.Colgate, known for its intimate classroom setting, liberal arts curriculum and variety of courses, boasts that it has a 10:1 student to faculty ratio and an average class size of 19 students. Despite these very impressive numbers, the Political Science department has increased class sizes, and the student-to-faculty ratio within the department. The department has been the target of increasing interest among students. Political Science and International Relations majors have increased 60 percent since 2001.As a result of the increasing interest, waitlists grown in size. During the 2004 Spring Semester, 550 students that were waitlisted were unable to get into Political Science/ International Relations courses.Many Senators and students have shown their concern about how the overcrowding of popular majors has affected the quality of education at Colgate.”I think that overcrowding in some departments at Colgate, including, but not limited to Political Science, is a very serious issue,” sophomore Senator Matthew Kroll said. “How will students be able to get the liberal arts education that Colgate is all about if they can’t take courses they are interested in?”The overcrowding of classes is a very complex issue at Colgate. This is not a problem that can be solved within a short period of time or simply with the intervention of the Senate. There are many factors and ideas that must be considered in this discussion.”The first step is recognizing the problem,” junior Senator Justin McLeod said. “That, however, is the easy part. The hard part comes when thinking of a valid solution.””As of right now, the Senate is still in the preliminary stages of addressing the problem in the Political Science department,” Kroll said. “Data has been gathered and was first presented at this week’s Senate meeting.”Some of the solutions that have been suggested include the introduction of a pre-registration program that allows departments to anticipate the number of students that would like to register for specific courses. Another solution would be to increase the number of professors within the Political Science department. However, skepticism has been demonstrated towards the redistribution of funds in order to hire additional professors.”I believe that a pre-registration system will be the best solution for all overcrowded departments at Colgate because of its effectiveness for concentrators and because it won’t prohibit freshmen from taking lower-level introduction courses,” Kroll said. “This will allow for departments to better outline their needs for future years, in terms of both hiring new professors and when to offer what courses. Not only does the Senate have the authority to push such a pre-registration system to address the problem of overcrowding, but it is their responsibility to do so. Registration is the most stressful period of the semester behind finals and midterms, and it doesn’t have to be that way with an effective system to place concentrators in the classes they desire.””The simple solution is to hire more professors,” McLeod said. “To satisfy demand, I wouldn’t rule out concentrating more of our financial resources for visiting professors in the Political Science department at the expense of departments that have a little less demand. That temporary solution gives us the flexibility to work with changing demand for Political Science and other departments in the future.”There were no solutions or plans of action voted on by the Senate at Tuesday’s meeting. However, the Senate’s Academic Affairs Committee will continue to work with the administration and the Senate to find and implement possible solutions.