By Alice Gilchrist
Overcrowding in Humanities Arts and Social Sciences-Distribution (HASS-D) classes led to lotteries again this semester.
The overcrowding was the result of an Institute rule limiting enrollment in HASS-D courses to 25 students per section. If too many students enrolled in a HASS-D course, lotteries were held to determine which students were allowed to stay.
Seniors were automatically allowed to stay in HASS-D classes, as were students who had been forced to withdraw from the class in previous semesters.
Acting Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Phillip S. Khoury said he did not want to turn any students away from courses, but that the HASS-D limit on class size was the "trade-off" for a good humanities program.
Khoury said that student representatives to the HASS-D Overview Committee insisted on the limit on class size. The student representatives found that both faculty and students overwhelmingly approved of small HASS-D classes.
Introduction to Fiction (21.003) was one of the over-subscribed courses this term. Bruce A. McKenna, lecturer in the literature section of the Department of Humanities, is currently teaching 21.003. He said 111 students pre-registered for the class.
Usually, three sections of 25 students each are offered, but to accommodate the large number of students, a fourth section of 21.003 was added, according to McKenna. However, this still left 11 students who were unable to take the class.
Despite the fact that some students were forced to withdraw from 21.003, McKenna said the 25-student limit is vital. "Changing the number of [students per section] would really change the course," he said.
McKenna also pointed out that small classes are needed for good discussions. Khoury agreed that larger classes mean less discussion.
However, McKenna said that the HASS-D policy of senior priority is "tough because the freshmen are the students with the most rigid schedules."
But Assistant Professor of
Literature Henry Jenkins, who teaches Comedy (21.021), said the HASS-D requirements are not difficult to follow.
According to Jenkins, the senior priority rule did not come into play in his class because very few seniors enrolled. In fact, when his class was oversubscribed, some students volunteered to drop the course, making lotteries unnecessary. At least half of Jenkins' class this term is made up of freshmen.
Khoury said that although the current system is not perfect, "at least it attempts to give students a fighting chance" by giving priority in courses to students who were forced to withdraw from them in the past, and by making courses available twice a year.
Khoury said he would continue to work with the HASS-D Overview Committee to create a better humanities system, but that the committee must work within the limits of finances and professor availability.