College budget cuts add another headache to class registration

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November 14, 2008

12:13 AM

I tried to register for spring classes on Wednesday. Far from getting into any classes, I couldn’t even get into Banner. Apparently, I have a hold on my account because of this semester’s increase in tuition. My parent’s budget is still tailored to the former tuition; therefore, the difference between the two prices remains outstanding.

It is partly my fault for not notifying my parents prior to this week about the increase, but at the time of registration — a time of extreme anxiety and urgency — it is hard to put the blame on oneself. So, where does it shift? Perhaps the economy.

The economy has become an excuse for everything that’s going frustratingly wrong. Students and staff have practically memorized the amount of forced budged cuts for the College of William and Mary. If you haven’t already, it is approximately $4.9 million for this school year.

Not every student, obviously, gets into every desired class. But through begging, pleading and pestering over breaks, many end up with a decent schedule. This school year will not be very different, except for the reduction in the number of professors to nag. An Oct. 17 Flat Hat article “State cuts $4.9 million from College budget” said, “Some adjunct professors — temporary professors that are hired for a semester or two — may not have contracts renewed.” This hiring freeze means fewer classes and a more exasperating registration process for students. It is difficult to sign up for classes, such as ethics, that are required for more than one major but don’t have enough sections to accommodate the overwhelming demand.

Furthermore, students planning to study abroad may become discouraged if they are unable to register for core classes in the spring and have to delay them for future semesters. The shortage of courses and sections most acutely affects students pursuing more than one concentration. Finishing a double major or a major and a minor is very challenging, but these tight class choices make it even more intimidating.

In an Oct. 30 article on the College website, Vice President for Finance Sam Jones said the College is “making sure that we have faculty to teach students and making sure they have the support to do that.” However, it becomes more difficult to achieve this goal when no new professors or visiting professors can be hired. The College is trying its best to cope with a drastic shortage in funds, but it still cannot fully ameliorate present conditions. Private donations and unpopular tuition increases will only go so far.
Each department has confronted the cuts differently, from trimming paper use to limiting phone time and cutting conference funds.

These budget cuts have definitely put much more pressure on the registration process for all students. Quick typing and swift clicking no longer guarantee a spot in popular classes. However, it is more disheartening to see the effects on the College’s principal role of undergraduate education. The community will be able to cope with a tuition increase, but it is very difficult to reconcile the desire to learn and take new, interesting courses with the realities of underfunded departments and an insufficient number of courses.

At this point, I am a little nervous about being allowed to sign into Banner again and seeing the interminable line of Cs indicating closed sections running down the page.

Kalyani Phansalkar is a sophomore at the College.

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