Folt addresses class size concerns at SA

Dean of Faculty Carol Folt and Dean of the Social Sciences Michael Mastanduno addressed growing concerns about class size and oversubscription at the Student Assembly meeting Tuesday night. Representatives from the Club Sports Commission also presented their report at the meeting.

Folt and Mastanduno presented a slide show of statistics about enrollment and oversubscription as they said that class size-related problems are improving. Folt said that only 3.5 percent of students who enroll in a given class each year are “closed out,” or unable to get into a section of the class.

She said that the percentage is small but seems bigger because of the “cluster effect” in which government and economics classes are closed out more often than classes in other departments, so majors in those departments can be shut out of a class more than once.

“We have one of the lowest close-out statistics in the country,” Folt said. “The number is small but it feels bigger because the people that have this happen to them have it happen more than once.”

Mastanduno agreed that the issue is exaggerated.

“It’s a serious problem for probably a limited number of students,” he said.

Folt added that some other Ivy League schools are combatting similar problems of oversubscription in the government and economics departments by encouraging students to elect less popular majors.

She also said that students are often unable to enroll in classes because the College is making an effort to reduce class size.

“The quality of the Dartmouth experience that we are trying to achieve is having a greater number of classes under 20 [students],” she said. “We believe smaller classes are pedagogically better and we added a lot of sections into [the government and economics departments] this year.”

Mastanduno then addressed concerns about faculty retention.

“Do we have a retention problem? Yes, we do,” he said. “We have the same retention problem that all the good universities do. Do professors want to leave here specifically? No.”

He added that professors leaving is a good sign rather than a bad one.

“Our job is not to retain every single individual,” he said. “We try to retain a key core. If I were a student and every professor stayed, I’d be pretty suspicious. A mobile faculty is a good faculty. The best professors have options.”

Representatives from the Assembly-created Club Sports Commission briefly presented their Club Sports Report, the culmination of two terms of examining the state of club sports at the College, at the meeting as well.

“In the past few years the club sports program at Dartmouth has pretty much doubled,” Assembly President and Commission chair Noah Riner ’06 said. “Some of these recommendations are needed now more than ever.”

The Commission made short term recommendations to the College that called for increasing the annual budget, hiring full-time employees to work for the club sports program, offering club athletes more practice time in Leverone Field House, recognizing more club teams, finalizing and publishing facilities schedules, allowing club athletes access to all college facilities and discontinuing the practice of bumping club teams from times they have previously reserved.

Long term recommendations included establishing an endowment for the program, converting more fields into artificial turf, building another indoor facility, adding lighting to recreational fields and establishing an office dedicated solely to club sports with three or more employees.

Representatives said that they hope their report will be well received during Green Key weekend.

“This weekend the alumni council is coming to town and they have a committee on athletics that would like to see it,” Riner said.

The Assembly also passed a proposal to fund the Student Legal Services Initiative without opposition or abstention. The proposal, which was sponsored by Karan Danthi ’07, called for the establishment of an independent legal council to represent students arrested or referred for disciplinary action.

The legislature pointed out that conversations with Deans and other administrators are not bound by a confidentiality agreement. Law firm Kacavas and Ramsdell P.L.L.C. has agreed to represent Dartmouth students, and the Assembly will allocate $875 of its budget for the program, which will pilot next Tuesday.

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