As students filed in to the Science Lecture Hall for Douglas Gross’ Human Anatomy course at the start of winter quarter, one thing became certain – UC Davis is getting crowded.
The scene of hundreds of students pushing their way down the aisles of the lecture hall to find a vacant seat reflected the increasing frequency of over-enrolled classes and reduced course availability. Statewide budget cuts implemented fall 2009 at all nine UC campuses ultimately resulted in fewer course offerings and a lack of space to accommodate students.
“It gets distracting with so many people in the lecture hall,” said senior exercise biology major Mariah Walker. “I’m worried about being able to get a seat so I’ll often go to the lecture hall 15 or 20 minutes before class starts. I understand the need for some reductions, but courses that are in such high demand like [human anatomy] should not be impacted at all. Because fees are increasing, it is definitely not fair or reasonable to cut or reduce courses; [students] are paying more and getting less.”
According to a recent New York Times article, UC Davis has reported no major reductions. However, multiple departments from each of the three colleges are offering fewer courses and larger class sizes to accommodate the budget cuts. The psychology department, housing the largest major on campus, has increased class sizes for its more popular classes, such as psychology 1, as a result of these courses being offered less frequently.
“With the budget cuts, we’ve seen a number of changes,” said Debrah Long, chair of the psychology department. “We’ve been forced to cancel a large number of courses and increase class sizes. This sometimes results from losing staff members and not being able to replace them. All of the departments are feeling the pain.”
More students in every lecture is not the only consequence of course reductions.
Senior and former theatre major Claire Robson switched her major to international relations winter quarter of her third year. As a result, she was left with a shorter time to complete her major requirements. Unable to take one of her required courses this quarter due to long waitlists, Robson must delay her graduation date to winter 2011 in order to complete graduation requirements.
The required course, political science 132, is not offered during the spring quarter or Summer Sessions.
“I was waitlisted at 23 for POL 132, and when I went onto SmartSite, that professor posted an announcement telling us that he would not be issuing PTA numbers,” Robson said. “It’s frustrating because I have to stay behind for just one class, and with the tuition hikes I have to pay more money instead of getting out in four years.”
According to UC officials, UC Davis had shortages in widely required courses such as chemistry and UWP composition classes, but no major reductions. UCLA officials have reported a six percent drop in winter quarter class availability, and an 11 percent drop at UC Santa Cruz. UC Santa Barbara has additionally faced a similar predicament, with a total of 160 fewer undergraduate courses.
“This is a devastating situation, to not be able to enroll in the classes that we are paying for,” said sophomore neurobiology, physiology and behavior major Lena Rothstein. “It doesn’t seem right that students are being prevented from graduating; the value of education has really been undermined in California.”
REBECCA SHRAGGE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.