When students were notified of their spring semester courses on Monday, a number of computer science and neuroscience students were left without the courses they need to finish their majors. This issue did not stem from Polaris, which continues to work well. Interim Registrar James Higginbotham reported to the Orient that 84 percent of students were enrolled in three or more classes during Round One registration and that the back end of the system was operating smoothly. Polaris provides a simple and streamlined process for students—a welcome improvement over the paper registration that students used as recently as the spring of 2013. For computer science majors, the problem is that there are too few courses to meet growing student demand. In neuroscience, an interdisciplinary major without its own department, the issue is that students are only sometimes given priority for required biology, chemistry and psychology courses.

Demand for next semester’s computer science offerings was incredibly high. Every course filled up after Round One registration, leaving dozens of students who are hoping to major or minor in the subject without any options. Unfortunately, this is not a new trend. Last spring, Caroline Pierce ’16 collected over 80 signatures on a petition asking the College to hire an additional computer science professor. The Office of Academic Affairs has said that it is working to accommodate more students in next semester’s classes, but any solution it offers will be a stopgap. We understand that resources are scarce and that expanding an academic department is an expensive and incremental process. However, the experiences of the many students who were turned away show that long-term solutions are necessary. 

Neuroscience majors also struggled during the registration process, although for different reasons. Because the major has no corresponding department, and courses are not listed specifically as neuroscience classes, it can be hard to navigate the program’s requirements. This is especially true since majors do not receive preference for every biology and psychology course that is part of the Neuroscience Program. These issues could easily be rectified by officially cross-listing relevant biology and psychology courses with neuroscience and by offering neuroscience students priority where necessary. 

The problems faced by neuroscience and computer science students indicate that there is room for improvement in our curriculum, both in terms of creating space where there is substantial demand and helping students enroll in the courses they need. One of the College’s greatest strengths is offering intimate classes in which we can learn from our excellent faculty.  Students will be best served if the administration can ensure that they have access to the courses they are required to take without greatly inflating class sizes.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Garrett Casey, Ron Cervantes, Natalie Kass-Kaufman, Sam Miller, Leo Shaw and Kate Witteman.