Section cuts leave students stuck

Limited seating in professor Elaine OBriens Art 1B class leaves students with little to no elbow room.:


Limited seating in professor Elaine O’Brien’s Art 1B class leaves students with little to no elbow room.:

Crystal Kirk

Now four weeks into the semester, Sacramento State students are still struggling to add classes before Friday’s registration deadline.

Sac State’s shrinking budget may continue to make it harder for students to graduate in four years. Class availability has decreased, and the size of classes is swelling to uncomfortable levels.

The class sections for popular undergraduate classes have seen a dramatic decline since last semester. English 1A dropped from 52 sections in fall 2008 to 27 sections in spring 2009. Economics 1A went from 13 sections in fall 2008 to 11 sections in spring 2009.

“Classes that are normally interactive with 25 students, now are lecture style with as many as 43 students,” said Will Corral, chair of the Foreign Language Department.

Senior journalism major Ryan McElhinney had trouble registering for the five classes he needed to take this semester. McElhinney can only take certain classes that will meet the requirements of his home university, Chico State.

“I got three of the five classes I needed,” he said. “The others it didn’t really look like I was going to get into them.”

McElhinney was persistent and eventually got into all five classes. “I went to the professor’s office hours and talked to them. I explained my situation,” he said.

Admissions and Records Customer Service Student Assistant Dan Thill has noticed a change in the registration numbers this semester.

“The lines are smaller than we anticipated,” he said. “Students are taking classes that they do not necessarily need just to keep full-time status.”

The Photography Department has seen a decrease in class offerings for the last two semesters. There were 13 different classes available in spring 2008, 12 classes in fall 2008 and 10 classes in spring 2009.

“The College of Arts and Letters has seen cuts across the board,” said Sharmon Goff, chair of the Design Department.

Since students are having difficulty getting into electives, the Design Department is giving its students the option to take a wider variety of electives from other majors to meet requirements.

“To respond to the budget situation we are giving students more flexibility in their elective choices, so they can still graduate on time,” Goff said.

Goff said that there has been an increase in the number of required classes available in the photography department to ensure the graduate students’ needs are met.

Required undergraduate lower level general education courses have the highest demand on campus. Economics 1A, Math 1 and foreign language courses are all needed to satisfy the university’s graduation requirements. Each department is trying to juggle the needs of the students with the need to make cuts.

Senior organizational communications major Sophia Mercado has struggled to get into two of the five classes she needs to take this semester to graduate.

Mercado explained how one of her professors decided to add the four people with the most units.

“I got lucky that I happened to be one of the people that got added,” she said.

The class in which she was unable to enroll had half as many people on the waitlist as there were enrolled in the class.

“The professor said that he would not add anyone, so we all left,” Mercado said. “I later found out from a friend in the class that after we left he ended up adding someone anyway.

“There is so much injustice when it comes to the policy,” she said.

A special course had to be created to substitute for Mercado’s missing senior seminar course.

“I am now in an instructional design class . . . what do I need that for? It has nothing to do with my major,” she said.

“The students have been wonderful; they realize that we are trying our best to accommodate them,” Corral said.

Crystal Kirk can be reached at [email protected]