Adding students adds no benefits

By Editorial Board

In the Front Page article about class sizes, Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden states that increasing average class sizes by one student could save the college $1 million. In the grand scheme of things, $1 million is not a lot of money, and although fundraising and cutting administrative positions is the answer to most of the problems the administration has made for itself, the convenient tagline of “one student, $1 million” seems like an easy enough ploy for the administration to force on the college. 

Adding more students to classes is a lazy way to temporarily fix the budget crisis Columbia is currently facing. Raising the ceiling on the number of students in each class will only serve to cut courses and sections, which in turn cuts jobs—that is where $1 million, or any amount of money, comes from. Fewer courses and sections directly affects students and their ability to graduate on time, and more students means less attention for individual students. Students and faculty continue to be the ones who suffer the most from the solutions to the problems the administration  alone creates.

One of the many reasons students decide to attend Columbia is to have the benefit of smaller class sizes. Smaller class sizes allow students to cultivate more beneficial relationships with their peers and professors. Collaborations and discussions flourish in smaller classes, as students are able to focus more on one another and their work rather than drown in a sea of faces hidden behind laptops in a lecture hall. 

The benefits of smaller class sizes are endless. One-on-one attention is especially crucial to many of the majors the college offers. One student added to a class of 15 may seem insignificant, but in classes that workshop writing or oral performance, one more student is one too many, as it is another individual who demands the attention and energy of the professor and fellow students. 

Columbia offers an incredibly diverse curriculum. Its classes are the reasons people come to and stay at the college. Even the majors one can pursue at the college are unparalleled. Columbia is the only college in the country that offers a major in comedy, but the experience of studying comedy—or any major for that matter—at Columbia will be undercut by shoving more students into already-packed classrooms.

Though the expectation is that college students do not require hand-holding—the argument being that students do not need to be led by the hand through every college class they take—larger classes need more crowd control than smaller classes, as professors must spend more time wrangling the attention and silence of students. 

It is also far easier to fall through the cracks in a class of 60 students than in a class of 13 because one cannot expect a professor to tend to each and every student’s needs. Does each student require individual attention? Certainly not, but the disconnect one feels in a lecture hall can deter a student from truly engaging. 

The administration’s decision to add more students to classes just to meet the bottom line is indicative of a resounding apathetic attitude toward students and faculty.

Furthermore, it seems the administration is incapable of taking into account the needs of the students in the name of balancing the budget, as students have little to no voice in the matter.

 The administration has overlooked the easy solution to this  avoidable problem, though-—a solution that would not adversely affect the college.  

Cutting superfluous administrative positions that provide six-figure salaries or even forcing administrators to take pay cuts could easily amend the budget crisis rather than shoving more students into classes and cutting the crucial jobs of professors. It would be a good show of faith rather than disregarding the things students truly care about.

Students and faculty are not expendable, but hefty paychecks and fancy titles are, especially for those who do not seem to have the college’s best interest in mind.