IR Graduation crisis resolved
New Section Added to Senior Level IR Class
February 8, 2005 9:05 AM
The international relations department at SF State has added a third section of its Foreign Policy Analysis class, responding to requests from over 40 students who were unable to add the class to their schedules on the first day of the semester.
Professor Margaret E. Leahy told students trying to add the six-unit class on the first day of the semester that they would not be able to do so, according to students who were in class.
Dissatisfied with Leahy’s response, some students approached department Chair Sanjoy Banjeree with requests to add into the course and were told that an additional section could not be added because of new standards informally placed upon class requirements, according to Banjeree.
Banjeree proposed that currently enrolled students lacking prerequisites or passing JEPET scores would be dropped from the course and replaced by the most qualified students in need of the class for graduation, excluding those in need of graduation with concurrent enrollment in prerequisite courses, according to Banjeree.
"When students arrived at my office it was a big surprise,” said Banjeree. “It wasn't clear to me that we could add a new section, so my initial response was to see who the most qualified students were and to allow them into the class.”
The rules that the department set concerning prerequisites and the JEPET have not been strictly enforced in the past, but they will be strictly enforced starting in the fall of 2005, according to Banjeree.
Students like Dylan Whitehead did not accept Banjeree's initial response easily and brought the issue to the attention of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Dean Dr. Joel J. Kassiola.
"I need only 12 units to graduate, six of which are for this class, so this was unacceptable for me," said Whitehead. "It was the most stressful week of my life."
Kassiola met with department staff on Feb. 2 and decided to allocate $11,000 of the department’s discretionary funding would be allocated toward a third section of the course that would provide 20 spots for students.
"All I need to do is find the money," said Kassiola, "It is much harder for the department chair to make these decisions because an instructor is needed, a room is needed- students need to keep this in mind.
“Last fall, the department did not anticipate the number of students who would need the course. It is a disturbing situation but it is a good problem because we will now take all measures to ensure that it does not happen again."
As of Monday, all students who needed the course have been enrolled into the new third section taught by Dr. Leahy or they have been placed into the two existing sections, which have increased in enrollment from 20 to 25 students, said Kassiola.
“We have had problems like this in the past, but not to this capacity. As the campus grows, and BSS leads the campus growth, there will be growing pains,” said Kassiola.
Kassiola believes this issue serves as a hint toward overpopulation problems that educational institutions will be experiencing in the future.
IR majors alone have increased 35 percent since 2000 and will continue to increase, according to Kassiola.
“We have tried to minimize disruption and harm to students and we are committed to having each student not have to prolong their time here,” he said.
Although the issue concerning this semester’s class is resolved, Banjeree remains concerned for those enrolled and for those who will enroll in future semesters.
"Students should still be upset," said Banjeree. "They're not going to get everything that they would have gotten with a better student- to-professor ratio." While still disappointed at the way in which the situation was handled, some students are satisfied with the outcome.
"I wish this could have been sorted out last week because we have been jumping through hoops, e-mailing people and meeting with people about this, but we all got into the class and I'm so relieved," said Whitehead.
Fellow student and IR major Jesse Garrett agrees.
"I feel really good about the outcome and the problem was solved quickly enough, but it would have been better if they had originally made these decisions," he said.
As for the present, Kassiola said all is well, “but this is a wake-up call that this will be an issue in the future.”
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