Dozens of students were unable to enroll in next semester’s computer science courses because of skyrocketing demand for the department’s classes.
Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd and her office met with computer science faculty during registration to ensure that all junior and senior majors will be able to register for courses they need during the add/drop period, but many sophomores intending to major in computer science were left without any options.
Computer science professors have agreed to teach additional sections of their classes and plan to allow their class sizes to surpass the limits set at the beginning of registration. However, students and faculty are concerned that increasing class sizes and course offerings without adding more professors will negatively impact the quality of Bowdoin’s computer science curriculum instruction.
Judd wrote in an email to the Orient that the Office of Academic Affairs is working with the computer science department to write registration rules that will ensure “that the right populations of students have the highest priority for the appropriate courses.” She wrote that sophomores who intend to declare majors are one of these populations.
According to the Office of the Registrar, all computer science courses were filled after Round One of registration. Social and Economic Networks, taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science Mohammad Irfan, was the most sought after course; it received about 50 requests for only 22 spots. The College has since added a second section of this course, which will also be taught by Irfan. Judd wrote that it is not unusual for her office to add or remove sections of courses during Round Two of registration. “It’s usual for a class to be over enrolled,” said Maddie Bustamante ’17, a cofounder of Bowdoin Women in Computer Science (BWICS). “But when there’s this many overenrolled, it’s just crazy.”
Bustamante added that this reality is particularly difficult for potential sophomore majors, who will have to load up on computer science courses once they have priority during junior and senior years. “All the people who started later need all the classes they could get without overloading themselves,” she said. “If they don’t get both classes for next term, they might have to take three classes in another term, which is a very heavy workload in computer science.” The situation is even more difficult for sophomores who plan on studying abroad. “If you want go abroad, unless you can count on having some of your courses abroad towards major credit, then you come back from being abroad and need to take three courses of [computer science] every semester until you graduate,” said Majercik.
Currently there are widespread worries among the affected students about whether they will be able to count on getting classes they want in the future. With this low chance of getting in, many students can feel discouraged from majoring or minoring in computer science.
“My class was up to 39, but a couple of students unregistered because they thought it was hopeless.” said Majercik. “They asked me: ‘do I have a chance of even getting in?’ What they were saying was that they are trying to decide whether they should register for Nature-inspired Computation and hope maybe they’ll be lucky. Or they should not do that, and maybe that’s a waste of registration slot. Spend their slot on another course so that they don’t get locked out of that course.”
Women have been long been underrepresented in computer science courses at the College. About 10 percent of Bowdoin majors now are women, eight points below the national average of 18 percent. The recent difficulties with registration have hurt BWICS’ effort to recruit more women to study computer science.
“It’s been very frustrating for us.” said Bustamante. “We are trying really hard to bring women into CS courses. It becomes much more difficult to bring women into it, when the chance of getting our courses is this low.”
The College’s inability to meet demand in the Department of Computer Science is not new this year. Like many colleges around the country, Bowdoin has witnessed rapidly growing interest in computer science courses in recent years. Last year, the Orient reported that students were experiencing difficulty registering for the department’s introductory-level courses. The College resolved the problem by expanding class sizes.
“We’ve started to see an increase in interest in intro classes a couple of years ago,” said Toma. “We used to teach two intro classes every semester with 22 each. As the demand went up, we doubled the class size. So we are teaching two intro classes capped at 44 each. Then last semester, we also doubled the size of two classes of Data Structures.
Professor of Computer Science Eric Chown predicted that the increased demand for courses will be unlikely to reside. The number, he said, may only get worse as more students are unable to take computer science courses. Upper-level courses, which require more personal interaction than introductory-level courses, could have particular challenges catering to rising demands.
According to Chown, the Data Structures course places a natural limit on how many students can take upper-level courses, because it is a prerequisite for nearly all of the advanced classes. With twice as many students completing Data Structure last year, 100-130 students may try to enroll for upper level courses in the Fall of 2015, which Chown said is two to three times more students than the department has enrolled in those courses previous years.
“It’s carrying over,” said Toma. “Of course high demand in intro class means high demand in everything else in the sequence. Next semester it means higher demand for everything essentially.”
Majercik agreed that the department will soon be facing an insufficient number of upper level courses.
“We’ve enlarged our capacity at the beginning of the pipeline, but we still haven’t enlarged enough at the end of the pipeline.”
Aware of these looming issues, students have become involved in efforts to encourage the College to take action. Last fall 80 students signed a petition for the College to hire an additional professor in the department. This year, another petition with 23 prospective majors or minors was emailed to Judd. It asked for Judd to communicate with students who could not get into the courses they wanted to.
“We are concerned that women who were on the path to major or minor in computer science previously will be deterred by the quality of such over-enrolled classes, and by the fact that they may need to change their future plans in terms of classes, studying abroad, and exploring other fields,” representatives for BWICS wrote in an email to Judd this week.
“The main response I got was very defensive,” said Caroline Pierce ’16, who led the petition last year, “I think it’s a problem they are working on, but I don’t know how high a priority this is for them.”
“Another thing that frustrated us was that they said it is a temporary problem,” said Bustamante. “Essentially we want to grow the department and make it more interesting and attractive to people. If they just take it as a temporary problem, that itself is a problem. We need more professors, more resources, to attract more people.”
Some students expressed their concern over the quality of education they will receive in overenrolled courses.
“I’m not worried in the sense that I will not graduate,” said Pierce. “But I’m worried in the sense that I don’t think I will be able to take the classes that I want to take or leave here feeling like I haven’t got enough out of the computer science department and my computer science major.”
“I’ve been seeing these guys working all the time,” said Liam Taylor ’17. “They work, perhaps unreasonably, to just try to get the things done, to answer all the questions. I know my professor has expanded his office hours. He is staying in the evening twice a week. And that’s kind of unusual in the first place.”
According to Judd, her office does not believe that the increased class sizes will significantly diminish the quality of the department’s courses.
“We are confident that students will have the quality of experience that we all expect of a Bowdoin education,” she said. “The numbers are larger than we have historically seen in computer science and so the classes may feel different to seniors who began when the department was one of the smallest majors in the College. The class sizes for the spring are still well within the Bowdoin range of small classes.”
Bowdoin to replace all loans with grants
Policy takes effect in fall; current students will not incur further debt
College graduation is often associated with freedom. But with tuition costs at an all-time high, Bowdoin graduates often find themselves shackled by student loan debt years after receiving their degrees. No more.
Eleven may face piracy suits
Illegally downloading Britney Spears's new single may cost some students more than ridicule this semester?$750, to be exact. Eleven members of the Bowdoin community were served with pre-litigation letters earlier this month for infringing on the rights of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) by illegally uploading or downloading music files over online peer-to-peer (p2p) networks.
Hazing investigation concludes ?mild hazing?
An investigation conducted at the end of the fall semester has concluded that several students on the women's squash team were victims of "mild hazing" in 2006. According to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, "in the case of women's squash, there was certainly mild to moderate hazing."
Facilities adds locks to Brunswick Apts.
At 3 a.m. on December 27, 2007, a man and his dog entered an unlocked apartment in Brunswick Apartments where two students were sleeping. The students were woken by the dog, and sighted the man in the doorway before he exited.
Despite a day with classes, King?s birthday observed
Though Monday marked the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, at Bowdoin, classes continued as usual. However, the fact that classes were in session did not stop faculty and students from reflecting on King's legacy, which has a special connection to Bowdoin.
Bowdoin 24th in Peace Corps rankings; 14 alumni currently serving abroad
For the second year in a row, Bowdoin made the Peace Corps's top 25 list for small schools with the largest number of volunteers serving abroad. There are currently 14 Bowdoin alumni serving as volunteers in 12 countries, earning the College a 24th place ranking on this year's list. In 2006, when Bowdoin was ranked 20th on the list, Peace Corps Regional Recruiter Christopher Lins noted that if the rankings were done on a per capita basis, Bowdoin would fall in the top five of all schools in the country.
BSG is ?workable? in spite of resignations
A flurry of resignations late last semester and early this semester has led to a shakeup in the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG). BSG elected John Connolly '11 as vice president of BSG affairs at its Wednesday meeting following the resignation of Kata Solow '10, and four other positions on the assembly remain open. BSG President Dustin Brooks '08 stated that while the BSG will not be "absolutely settled" until February 13, the group is "workable" now.
VoIP phones installed in dorms; some quads share one phone
The new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, introduced in certain administrative offices in November, have now been installed throughout the entire campus. Replacing phones that have been used since the 1970s, the VoIP phones convert telephone signals for transmission over Bowdoin's existing internet network. The switch to VoIP occurred after a year of internal testing at the College. According to Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis, the new telephone network is now the nation's fastest campus-wide network.
Bowdoin Brief: IT installs new public printing system
Public printing at Bowdoin is now easier and more reliable than it has been in the past, according to Information Technology (IT). The College has replaced its four-year-old CS Print system with Pharos Uniprint. "We recognized some clear issues with the system we had in place," said IT Security Officer and Systems Consultant Steve Blanc.
Bowdoin Brief: Powell leaves Bowdoin for Princeton admissions
Senior Associate Dean of Admissions Logan Powell has left Bowdoin to accept a position in the Princeton University Undergraduate Admissions Office. According to a press release on the Princeton Web site, Powell was appointed Director of Admission, effective December 12, 2007. In his new position, Powell is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the undergraduate admissions office and the management of its staff.
Editorial: Replacing Student Loans
In his 1972 hit ?School?s Out,? rocker Alice Cooper articulated the catharsis that grips students each spring when they wave goodbye to the various undesirable aspects of school. For college graduates, however, it is often more complicated: While many might leave behind ?pencils, books, and teachers? dirty looks,? debt from increasingly large student loans tends to stalk them into adulthood.
The Flip Side: Taking issue with taxes on estates, gifts
After observing the presidential debates surrounding taxation, I have been intrigued by the estate tax. As the laws currently stand, one can pass on up to $2,000,000 upon death tax free to their heirs. I have heard a variety of stances regarding the issue.
Bowdoin students should rethink stances on Moosehead plans
To the Editors: Andy Smith ("Need to consider alternative options for development at Plum Creek," December 7, 2007) shows his lack of independent knowledge of the Moosehead Lake Region by submitting a piece whose entire substance consists of Natural Resources Council of Maine-published "talking points."
Medical malpractice suits did not increase for Maine doctors
To the Editors: Brian Lockhart's column "Health care costs rise with medical liability lawsuits" (December 7, 2007) was well written but somewhat off the mark. Mr. Lockhart mentions "increasing incidences of lawsuits brought against doctors."
- December 7
Editorial: Zoning Ordinance
The proposed zoning ordinance that would prohibit two or more unrelated persons from living together in one household unit may have been masked as an innocuous decree intended to preserve the quality of neighborhoods in Brunswick, but its underlying message is clear: Bowdoin students are not welcome by some neighbors outside of the college community. Although the ordinance itself makes no specific mention of students, citizens who spoke in favor of the measure at Tuesday night's meeting repeatedly cited the off-campus student house at 17 Cleaveland St. in their remarks, confirming our fear that this proposal is little more than poorly disguised discrimination.
- December 7
Revocation of funding was inappropriate response to Republicans
Last year, when WBOR faced termination by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for failing to follow legal regulations (not keeping records of its Public Service Announcements), the campus sprung into action, writing more than 600 letters to support the station. Station leadership itself helped to remedy the situation, completing the missing records.
- December 7
Moosehead Lake development demands Bowdoin students? attention
I can assure Mr. Simko ("Bowdoin students have no right to protest Plum Creek development plan," November 30, 2007) that all students who attended the Land Use Regulation Commision's public hearing in Augusta on December 2 have taken time to understand the issue. He accuses Bowdoin students of having no vested interest in the area, but it is Seattle-based Plum Creek, the nation's largest land developer, who is guilty of this charge more than us students.
- December 7
Need to consider alternative options for development at Plum Creek
I am a freshman at Colby College who has been working to stop Plum Creek's development plan for the Moosehead region. One of my friends was sent John Simko's opinion piece ("Bowdoin students have no right to protest Plum Creek development plan," November 30, 2007) by a Bowdoin student, and after reading it I felt compelled to respond. While I am not a Bowdoin student, Simko's criticisms of their activism apply to me as well. After all, I spent the weekend with several of the students he is condemning, and I testified with them at the Land Use Regulation Commission hearing in Augusta.
- December 7
View from the Top: Seniors: Holiday parties are in session
With the semester coming to a close, there are a few things to take note of here...clearly the most important being that it's time to take advantage of the circuit of holiday events. Now that you're a senior, you know what to expect when it comes to holiday fun on campus; where you like to party, when it's appropriate to show, and how extreme to get.
- December 7
The Flip Side: Health care costs rise with medical liability lawsuits
As December rolls around, I thought I might break the seal on campaign issues. I would like to discuss a consequence of medical liability lawsuits on health care that is not very well known. Most people know that doctors' insurance has inflated dramatically as there have been increasing incidences of lawsuits brought against physicians. The rising insurance is often blamed for the skyrocketing health care costs. However, insurance is only a fraction of the problem.
Students return with new perspectives, field experience
While students studying off-campus this spring have just begun their adjustment, students who spent their fall semester away are making the opposite transition back to life at Bowdoin. These students' stories are just a few of this fall's off-campus study experiences.
News from the Field: Nature and nurture work together, and science addresses both topics
The social sciences rest at the elbow of the arts/humanities and the natural sciences. The topics addressed by social scientists are familiar to the philosopher and the musician: reason, passion, and the magnificent depths of the human experience.
Busting Bowdoin Myths: Steam tunnels exist, but not for students
As temperatures drop to frighteningly low degrees, Bowdoin's rumored underground tunnels would certainly be a comfort to use.
The Diddy Gritty: Guide to curing campus fever
As a savvy Bowdoin vet, I know that nothing hurts a good semester more than the seasonal depression associated with the Maine winter.
- December 7
Museum equipped with new top-notch security features
The Walker Art Building, the most recently renovated building on campus, may stand as the most secure building in Maine.
- December 7
Students find rides home through Digest, friends
Upsurges in work and cabin fever are not the only signs that winter break is on the horizon. Posts begin to sprinkle the Student Digest several weeks in advance, politely inquiring about rides to the Portland Jetport, Boston, New York, and other destinations.
- December 7
The Elements of Style: Winter wonderland: season for elegance
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Or so they say.
- December 7
Students encourage toy drive donations
Though it may be hard to see the upcoming holiday season through the looming week of finals, two first years are urging students to think not only of the holidays, but also of others.
- December 7
Squirrels, storms, can leave campus in the dark
When campus squirrels finally begin Operation Takeover Bowdoin, their first step will likely be to cut power to the campus.
- November 30
Safe Ride Confessions
Do you remember what you talked about in the Safe Ride van on the way back from the party last weekend? Probably not. Chances are, though, that your Safe Ride driver does.
Arts & Entertainment
Bisbee nails opening at Portland Museum of Art
Following the accidental discovery of a bucket of entangled nails in 1988, Lecturer in Art John Bisbee has plied the massy metal into diverse and imaginative sculptures. Currently on display at the Portland Museum of Art are pieces that scamper up the wall like double-jointed arthropods while others languidly curve across the floor.
Artist consumes the fruit of her body
Performance art, which emerged during the tumultuous 1970s, is widely regarded as weird, obscure, and nonsensical. Artists such as GG Allin, Blue Man Group, and Yoko Ono are among the most mainstream of the avant-garde genre. Burning paintings, on-stage excrement, and bizarre body distortions are all things one may expect to see at a conceptual art performance.
Lights, camera, activism
The largest environmental film festival in North America is coming to Portland, Maine.
Beer 101: Professor of beer shares his top 10 Winter Break brews
At the end of last semester, I had big plans for the first Beer 101 of this year. I would kick it off with tales of brewery tours or drinking adventures I took over break. But as my break began to disappear, I realized the only two guarantees were that I would be traveling and drinking a good deal, a situation well-suited to being able to try new beers. Never without pen and paper, I chronicled each beer I drank and have compiled my list of the 10 best. None of these beers werepurchased in Maine, and therefore I am unable to provide price or location, although I am sure many of the finalists are available at Uncle Tom's.
Delson crafts NYC novel with humor, wit, and love
The holidays provide an expanse of empty hours, perfect for those who like to combine sloth and intellectual stimulation. Bookworms are content to spend hours sprawled in a variety of uncomfortable positions for the sake of the stories in front of them. Sometimes the Christmas stack yields literary delights, other times you stir from four prostrate hours and berate yourself for not enjoying the crisp air, sunny skies and sparkling snow. (I live in Santa Fe where these things can all happen at once.) "Maynard and Jennica" by Rudolph Delson is the sort of novel that not only keeps you horizontal without complaint but induces visible grins and audible chortles, earning you skeptical glares from family members who try to occupy the same space.
?Dresses? loose at the seams
If the hope for "27 Dresses" was an innovative gown of a film with bold style and a refreshing hue, the audience will have to settle for a reliable, simple, black dress of a movie: never the wrong choice, but not a remarkable one either. Directed by Anne Fletcher, the movie is pleasant enough, but similarly-themed romantic comedies such as "10 Things I Hate About You" easily outshine this fall-back date movie. With its inevitable happy ending and attractive actors, "27 Dresses" certainly succeeds in making its audiences feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it does no more than that.
Wii exclusive ?Umbrella Chronicles? is no match for ?Resident Evil 5?
The real shame of the Nintendo Wii is that it is incapable of running the more technologically advanced games of the current generation. "Resident Evil 4," one of the top games of the last generation, was originally a GameCube exclusive. Yet this generation's Nintendo system can't handle "Resident Evil 5," which will appear on both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. In order to compensate for this travesty, Capcom has released a Wii-exclusive "Resident Evil" game: "Umbrella Chronicles." Although this game cannot possibly compare with a powerhouse like "Resident Evil 5," it presents a fun and mostly satisfying experience that lives up to the "Resident Evil" (RE) tradition.
DJ of the Week: Jess Weaver '10 and Kate Epstein '10
Top five desert island albums? JW: A smorgasborg of regular albums and soundtracks: "Goodnight and Good Luck;" "Before Sunrise;" "High Fidelity;" "O Brother, Where Art Thou;" "Motorcycle Diaries." KE: Paul Simon's "Graceland;" Bright Eyes's "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning;" Postal Service's "Give Up;" Rilo Kiley's "The Execution of All Things;" The Beatles's "Magical Mystery Tour."
- December 7
Sculpture show responds to unique space of gallery
Students in the semester's Sculpture I class dug deep to transform the Coleman Burke Gallery in Fort Andross. The space serves as an excavation site for the final class project of the semester which culminates in the show?titled "Quarry" that open? tonight.
- December 7
Comedy class showcases familiar and surprising laughs
Aleve, Chippendale dancers, Reddi-wip, and a Bat Mitzvah all in one place?
Meagher records 400th career ice hockey win
As the Bowdoin Men's Hockey Team captured its fourth Salem State Holiday Classic in late December, Head Coach Terry Meagher became just one of seven coaches in Division III history to reach the 400-win mark.
Women?s basketball hits hot streak
The Bowdoin Women's Basketball Team appears back on track after seven straight victories, including Wednesday night's strong showing against Clark University.
Men?s track takes first out of 11 at Brandeis
A cool wintry breeze blew through the Brandeis quad on a sleepy Saturday morning, but inside the field house the atmosphere was tempestuous.
Throwing events lead way to second for women?s track
After coming back to campus two weeks early to train, the Bowdoin Women's Track Team benefited from all the hard work, taking second with 127 points at the Reggie Poyau Invitational held at Brandeis University.
Men?s squash upsets Navy at Yale
The Naval Academy Squash Team must have thought it had an easy win coming its way when it faced Bowdoin, resting its No. 1 player for the match. The Polar Bears, who had dropped a tough loss last year to Navy, refused to leave so quietly.
Men?s basketball beats Williams, loses to Middlebury over weekend
The men's basketball team opened NESCAC play with an impressive victory over the eighth-ranked Williams College Ephs last Friday in Morrell Gym.
Skiing runs into problems at St. Lawrence
Despite training over Winter Break in Fort Kent, the men and women's nordic ski teams struggled at the St. Lawrence Carnival in Presque Isle as the members battled stomach viruses, adjusted to a new coaching staff, and faced training challenges for skiers returning from abroad.
Women?s hockey improves as Campbell steps up
When most of the student body left campus at the end of finals, the women's ice hockey team was struggling to find its rhythm. While most students were on the beach or the ski slopes, the Polar Bears went on a tear, with an undefeated record over their last four games and only two losses in their last nine.
Column Like I See 'Em: Say A Lot and You Won?t Get A Lot
Did anyone else happen to see that shadowy figure standing on the San Diego sidelines during Sunday's AFC title game? You know, the one that looked like Darth Vader's flamboyant cousin sporting a white helmet with yellow bolts atop a dark and mysterious skull-like frame?
- December 7
Leary breaks scoring record in 10-5 win
First year Ryan Leary gave fans at Dayton Arena something to celebrate 15:37 into the first period last Saturday against Skidmore, scoring his first goal as a Bowdoin Polar Bear. Leary then earned a standing ovation when he notched a hat trick just 3:28 later. By the end of the game, he would go down in Bowdoin history, scoring six goals in the entire game as the Bears went on to defeat Skidmore 10-5.