Students, faculty affected by class cuts

By Editorial Board

As reported in last week’s issue of The Chronicle, classes across college departments were cut due to low enrollment.

Many students were affected by the cancellations that occurred a few days before the spring semester began. The college has yet to release the total number of classes that were cut and how many students were affected, but it is clear that the situation is more severe than in the past.

Although classes are usually cancelled before the beginning of each term, this spring’s cuts could be pointing to more serious issues. The low enrollment may stem from financial troubles given the current state of the economy.

Despite the college’s recent discussions and actions centered on increasing retention rates at Columbia, the numbers don’t appear to be improving.

Regardless of the reasons why many classes were cancelled, the college should have given more notice to affected students and faculty. Many of them were given only a few days to find a replacement for a dropped course. By that time, many classes were already at full capacity.

The college gradually cancelled classes during winter break, and those with two to three students enrolled were cancelled with adequate time left for students to find a substitute. But the college waited too long to decide on cutting classes with six to seven people registered.

However, once the final decisions were made, the college did act swiftly and appropriately. Students affected by the cut were quickly notified of the changes through OASIS, Loop e-mail and telephone calls.

Not only do these circumstances affect students, but full-time and adjunct faculty as well. Some full-time faculty members fell below their required number of classes and, as a result, took over classes adjunct members were originally scheduled to teach. These cuts also affect the bookstore, which had ordered texts for the now-cancelled classes.

Given the severity of the situation, departments and advisers should be flexible and accommodating to students’ enrollment status, especially for juniors and seniors. One option could be to put one or two more students into existing sections of the same course or a course that satisfies the same requirement.

Columbia should continue to put effort and energy into its retention plan to avoid cuts like these in the future.