Spring schedule loses 150 class sections
December 1, 2008 11:24 PM
As students get ready to start the delayed priority registration next week, the final count has come in on what has survived the latest round of cuts.
Reactions to the loss of 150 class sections were mixed among deans, however students’ class selection is not as skimpy as once feared, administrators said.
“It’s never good news that there are reductions in classes, but it’s much better than what we were originally expecting,” said John Kim, the associate vice president for Academic Resources.
Last week SF State President Robert A. Corrigan announced that 150 course sections would be cut from the spring 2009 semester. The statement, sent to students via e-mail last Tuesday, said the school avoided cutting from 300 to 400 sections.
The cuts were made in preparation for a $66 million midyear budget cut to the CSU system, proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.
The reason the cuts are lower than projected is complicated.
According to Kim, the section cuts that were made depended on estimates made by the administration. Because the governor and the state Legislature have not yet made the official cuts, all state agencies, including the CSU and SF State, can only guess how much money they will lose midyear.
Fewer sections were cut than estimated because SF State reduced that estimate in light of the budget plan Schwarzenegger proposed in early November.
Faculty reactions to the section cuts are bittersweet. On one hand, many are happy that the cuts were not as bad as anticipated. But less than projected or not, the cuts have the potential to increase class sizes and delay graduation for SF State seniors.
Kenneth Monteiro, the dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, said that 23 sections were cut from ethnic studies alone. The cuts include an Asian American culture course, and a class on American Indians. One course, titled “Political Economy in Raza” used to fulfill a government and history general education requirement before it was cut.
“The student is sort of dropped in to sink or swim to a certain degree,” said Monteiro. “The more barriers you put before graduation, the less likely it is [for a student] to graduate.”
According to Monteiro, deciding which sections to cut is a tedious process. Monteiro was given a dollar amount that needed to be subtracted from the College of Ethnic Studies’ budget. Then Monteiro and the department chairs assessed the importance of each course based on major and minor requirements, as well as its effect on general education.
Sheldon Axler, dean of the College of Science of Engineering, said that 25 courses were cut from his department.
“We’re trying to cut the least essential classes and keep in the schedule the classes that students need for graduation,” Axler said. “Several of them were classes that were multi-section classes … maybe instead of offering 7 sections of the class, we offered six.”
Many agree that while the cuts are not ideal, they are much better than expected.
College of Humanities Dean Paul Sherwin originally thought the humanities department would have to cancel 97 sections. In the end, they only had to cancel 32, which saved the College of Humanities $138,000, according to Sherwin.
“At the moment we’re offering as many as we can afford,” Sherwin said.
The news follows weeks of protests from CSU students and faculty. While the cuts aren’t popular, Monteiro said that SF State’s administration is doing its best with the budget they’ve been given.
“You don’t have the alternative to not make the cut because the money isn’t going to be there,” Monteiro said.
Sherwin isn’t optimistic about next year’s budget.
“It ended up being not nearly as severe as we thought,” Sherwin said. “But next year looks really rough and if the economy doesn’t turn around it might get even worse.”
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