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.”
‘I Am Bowdoin’ continues fight against bias in the community
The dialogue about difference and bias at Bowdoin will continue on Sunday, and students and administrators are hard at work to ensure the conversation is not silenced by the end of the school year. "I Am Bowdoin" leaders have organized a nighttime walk around campus and into town entitled "Belonging in Brunswick," and they are hoping for a strong turnout.
College reflects on a successful Ivies
As the campus recuperates from another Ivies, students and administrators alike are reflecting on the highs and lows of the weekend. From Thursday's Racer X concert to Pinestock on Saturday, many agree that this year's springtime celebration went off without a major hitch. The weekend's events were a culmination of planning and coordination by the Entertainment Board (E-Board), Dining Service, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) and the Office of Safety and Security.
Trustees look to finalize new comprehensive fee for 2011-12
The comprehensive fee to attend Bowdoin will be going up. Just how much, however, remains to be seen. When the Board of Trustees meets next weekend, voting on and accepting a comprehensive fee for fiscal year (FY) 2012 will be one of the major tasks on its itinerary.
Community reacts to Bin Laden’s death
For a generation growing up in the shadow of September 11, the death of Osama Bin Laden is a watershed moment—the figure so often portrayed as the epitome of evil is no more. Though many American students felt closure and celebrated the death of Bin Laden, many others felt deep ambivalence about the event and its potential consequences.
IT and SWAT launch the ‘Orbit’ to mixed reviews from students
After a year of work, Information Technology (IT) and the Student Web Advisory Team (SWAT) have officially launched the redesigned student digest, the Bowdoin Orbit. Although still in its trial period, the Bowdoin Orbit will eventually phase out the Student Digest. It will be married with a gateway that boasts discussion boards and a newsfeed compilation from student blogs and websites.
In break with recent tradition, Phase II only sparsely attended
Toby Zitsman '13 decided to spend Tuesday night on a couch in Moulton Union's lobby in hopes of being the first in line for Wednesday's Phase II course registration, which began at 7:30 a.m. As it happened, his desperate efforts were unnecessary. "I slept over on one of the couches, but I didn't really need to," said Zitsman, who turned out to be the only person to camp out in a break with the tradition of recent years, when numerous students elected to sleep in Moulton Union on the night before Phase II registration.
MCC awards honor community service
Community service and civic participation are deeply ingrained in the Bowdoin ethos. In a testament to these principles, Samantha Collins '11, Sarah Pritzker '11 and Associate Professor of Education Charles Dorn were recently honored by the Maine Campus Compact (MCC) for their ongoing commitment to these pillars of the College.
BSG convenes for final meeting of the spring
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) convened on Wednesday for its final meeting of the 2010-2011 academic year. BSG dealt with a proposed name change to the "Vice President for Facilities" position. The proposal would change the name to "Vice President for Facilities and Sustainability," reaffirming the College's stance on reducing its environmental footprint.
Bowdoin Brief: Chapel bells ring through the night in suspected Ivies prank
The campus came alive with the sound of music last Saturday night with an unexpected recital of the Chapel bells. In what appears to be an Ivies prank, an unidentified person entered the Chapel and set off the bells at approximately 1:30 a.m., causing them to ring for roughly 30 minutes until 2 a.m.
Bowdoin Brief: Renowned concussion expert to visit campus on May 13
Concussion expert Chris Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) will speak on the treatment, prevention and subject of head injuries on Friday, May 13 in Pickard Theater. Nowinski, author of "Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis," is co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine and was an All-Ivy football player during his time at Harvard.
Editorial: What goes around
To the chagrin of many seniors, graduation approaches with haste. For many of us, this is a bittersweet time—we are eagerly looking to the future while also reflecting on the four years we have spent here. Bowdoin has been our home, and it is hard to part ways.
The Cold, Hardt, Truth: Branch out of usual dining routines and eat with someone new
"Hi, do you mind if I join you?" Those were the words of one stranger at lunch this Monday, and they definitely caught my lunch partner and me by surprise. At Bowdoin, we have a knack for falling into routines. We find a place where we are comfortable, and we do not often venture out of it. Be it a cozy chair at the Union where we go to study every night, or a carrel in the stacks where we can block out distractions and work until Security kicks us out, we find out what works and we keep doing it.
Southpaw: Bin Laden’s death provides limited resolution
Just over two years into his term in office, President Obama is finally having his moment. He circumvented the state laws in Hawaii last week to release his long-form birth certificate, a major coup against the birther contingent that had been gaining momentum again through the inane ramblings of Donald Trump. A trump card indeed.
Brunswick displayed patience during Ivies
To the Editors: I would like to take this opportunity to ask all my friends and supporters to call off the wildly successful boycott of the Brunswick community I proposed in my hugely popular November 5 letter, "Brunswick community intolerant of students." Though we will never be certain our point has been made, at this point the human toll has simply become too much for me to ask you to continue. We've had a good run.
- April 29
Editorial: Spending summer
Summer just is not what it used to be. The relaxing days at the beach are, for many of us, traded in for khakis and a water cooler. Though we are still weeks away from temperatures above 70 degrees, the scramble for a summer job, internship or activity is underway in full force.
- April 29
The Bowdoin Project: Klingenstein defends Claremont Review essay, responds to criticism
In "A Golf Story," which appeared recently in the Claremont Review of Books, I questioned whether President Barry Mills is serious about wanting more intellectual diversity at Bowdoin. The essay generated mostly smoke, but amid the smoke there lie important questions.
How intellectually diverse is Bowdoin today? Not very, if political party affiliation is any indication. Only Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarbrough in her April 22 op-ed "Bowdoin should examine its lack of diversity" challenged my claim that no more than 4 percent of the Bowdoin faculty is Republican. She thinks my figure is probably too high.
But perhaps there is no need to count Republican noses, for, as a number of my critics pointed out, party affiliation may not be the best measure of what I am calling "intellectual diversity." OK. So what then do we mean by the term and how might it be measured?
- April 29
Half-Assed: Trump’s race to the White House
While election season seems far off, possible Republican challengers to President Barack Obama have already begun posturing for the 2012 election. President Obama's term in office has been disastrous for the economy. His administration has not effectively lowered unemployment and has contributed to the explosion of the national deficit. The stimulus bill and Obamacare have both been tremendous failures, costing far too much and distancing America from its core free market principles. At this point, I have found it essentially impossible to disagree with the Republicans on these points. It's indisputable; Obama needs to go.
- April 29
Yarbrough inaccurately depicts college diversity
To the Editors: How does Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarbrough conclude that the college lacks "intellectual and political" diversity ("Bowdoin should examine its lack of diversity," April 22, 2011)?
- April 29
Country First: Republicans struggling to find ideal candidate
As the summer approaches and edges closer to next year's presidential campaign, the opportunity to charter a new course for the party has arisen. Thus far, polls consistently show Republicans thoroughly unhappy, unimpressed and unengaged with the list of likely, and even far-fetched, candidates for the party's nomination. Each of them has been trying to lay claim to the Reagan-mantle of conservatism, one that embraces social, fiscal and foreign policy conservatism.
- April 29
The Foreign Exchange: Bowdoin’s mission to guarantee student happiness
In the days leading up to Ivies, some of my less party-oriented friends have started to grumble about the perceived waste of resources that is Ivies. The complaints usually go something like: "Why should we be paying for these bands to come, and why should Bowdoin allow students to use their land and money so they can blackout all weekend?"
Director of athletics connects to coaches, athletes
While many jobs at the College are predictable and patterned, there are some that go off of the beaten path. With the inherent unpredictability of sports, it is no surprise that Director of Athletics Jeff Ward has a different schedule each day. For Ward, days frequently start early and run late. Overtime can literally mean staying to watch the overtime period of a game—and this is one of the things he likes best.
Year in Review: Looking back at the 2010-2011 academic year
The 2010-2011 academic year had the usual ups and downs—transports, thefts, a national championship, Meatless Monday, a salary thaw, a notable bias incident and nice weather for Ivies. These stories, along with many others, are chronicled in this summary of a year of Orient articles.
Department prizes vary for each
Scholarly excellence can be rewarded in a variety of ways. If you are a chemistry major, your possible prizes range from a certificate to a Merck Index. On the other hand, if you are majoring in government and legal studies, you can apply for the Philo Sherman Bennett Prize Fund and, if successful, could walk away with close to $200. "There is no 'one size fits all' for departmental prizes," said Senior Vice President for Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley. "First, the terms of the prize may vary; one fund may designate the size of the prize, and another may leave the size of the prize to the discretion of the department. Second, some prizes, such as certain book awards, carry no monetary value."
The Ethicist: Exploring the ethics of events and networking
I am the leader of a large campus organization. We are often asked to support or co-sponsor events organized by other organizations and individuals. We were recently asked to support an interesting event which, in my opinion, was not going to be popular. It was clear that no one would come. I, for one, would rather have spent my Friday night elsewhere. Was it wrong to agree to support the event if I didn't think it would be well-received?
All the Brews That's Fit to Drink: Bad brews for Bears: the popular college beers to avoid at all costs
As your humble columnist, I feel as though I've tried my best to steer all those who read my article towards beer bliss. Even in my piece discussing the finer points of malt liquor, I made an honest attempt to distinguish those brews that rose above the swill and reached some sort of relatively elevated status.
Fashion Sense & Sensibility: Mixing personal tastes to create a unique look on campus and beyond
Because online shopping is my source of inspiration for this column—though this time I was shopping for Mother's Day gifts, I swear—I happily landed upon the Free People website (freepeople.com). The home page has the title "Shop by Girl," and shows five different girls underneath with whom you can identify. Ginger is "confident, sensual, and a flirt," and Sandy is the "beach girl, easy-going and effortless," while Meadow is "bohemian, a free-spirit and creative." Candy is the "romantic, sweet and girly" one and then there's Lou, the "tomboy, adventurous and fearless." What I find ironic about trying to categorize Free People shoppers into these separate identities is that the brand itself is a total convergence of all of these personalities. The lines between these girls are blurred by the brand itself, as Free People serves someone who believes that she could be all of these attributes.
- April 29
Seniors design Free Time app to simplify scheduling
The question, "when are you free?" never seems to have a quick and easy answer. Seniors Ben Johnson, Nathan Merritt and Houston Kraft may have found a solution to this problem, however, with their new iPhone app, Free Time. "It basically looks at your calendar from a new perspective," said Kraft. "It imports the calendar from your phone, and shows the blocks of free time when you are available, and you can quickly share those with people."
- April 29
Chow Maine: Flipside’s fresh ingredients make it Midcoast’s best pizza
In one of my first articles, I dethroned The Cabin, in Bath, from its widely accepted position as the best pizza joint in mid-coast Maine. While it has its charm, the pizza at the Cabin is certainly nothing to write home about. It seems only fitting then, that in my last article I offer up an alternative for Bowdoin's pizza-lovers. In the search for the perfect pizza pie, Brunswick's Flipside delivers (figuratively speaking).
- April 29
Peer Health: Ivies wisdom for hard alcohol, mixed drinks
In my last installment of the year, I'm going to talk about something I am sure none of you were expecting: Ivies. Surprised? I think not. But there may be a bit of health confusion on the topic. We are all receiving mixed messages about our health, safety and school rules at this time. Ivies can be a lot of fun, but it can also end up not being that fun if you are having trouble navigating the surreal quality of the event and walking the line of how much is too much.
- April 22
Alumni celebrate Ivies Weekend on the West Coast
While Bowdoin students celebrate Ivies on the football field, alums in San Francisco will be having a party of their own. Nalgenes, Bowdoin logs, and the "spirit of Ivies" will appear on the West Coast this Saturday for the first ever San Francisco Ivies, an event organized by alumni from the Class of 2008. "We're extremely fortunate to have a really huge Bowdoin community out here," said Kate Ambush '08, who helped plan the event. "We were kind of hanging out and we thought, 'Hey, Ivies is coming soon...wouldn't it be great if we could hold the same kind of event here in San Francisco?'"
Arts & Entertainment
Longfellows audition for a slot in NBC reality show
The Longfellows stepped into the limelight yesterday when they auditioned for The Sing Off, an NBC reality TV show that pits a cappella groups against one another to win $100,000 and a Sony Music recording contract.
Students perform in ‘For Colored Girls’ this weekend at Wish Theater
Twenty-one girls take the stage to perform a play directed by Liz Gary ’11
For the next two evenings, Wish Theater will feature “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” a show written by Ntozake Shange in 1975 and nominated for a Tony Award in 1977.
BMC’s Quadzilla attacks tonight with student bands
Though Ivies has passed and the Whittier Field stage has been dismantled, the music isn't about to stop. Quadzilla, a music festival sponsored by Bowdoin Music Collective (BMC), will throw the spotlight on student performers tonight on the Brunswick Quad from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Creative Campus: Will Hatleberg ’11 paints, colors his artistic career at Bowdoin
Crayons are not generally first on one's list of materials when it comes to making fine art. For Will Hatleberg '11, however, these preschool tools have been revolutionary, transforming his finely crafted oil paintings into sculptural, emotionally provocative gems.
Honors project ‘Fright Show’ freaks Wish Theater audience
As part of her self-designed major, bridging the theater and film departments, Jillian Eddy '12 presented her honors project "Jackie and Johnny's Friday Night Fright Show" yesterday night. Combining film collages with live theatrics and music, Eddy brought together multiple art mediums for a truly unique performance.
Music to My Ears: Lil Wayne, J Cole, Dr. Dre bound to impress
As I ponder an appropriate farewell, I reflect on what my intentions were when I began this musical column. One goal was to provide readers with comprehensive and thoughtful reviews of recent albums from hip-hop moguls and veterans. I also hoped to suggest new music from up-and-comers that were less well known.
DJ of the Week: ‘Biscuits & Moonshine’ with Colvin ’13 and Henry ’13
What is your favorite song lyric, and from what song? Tucker Colvin: “This may not be the moment to tell you face to face, but I could wait forever for the perfect time and place” from “Elaborate Lives” by Aida. James Henry: “Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow, don’t worry ’bout what you don’t know, life’s a dance you learn as you go” from “Life’s a Dance” by John Michael Montgomery.
Art Smarts: Maren Askins ’12 to perform classical concert tomorrow
Cellist Maren Askins '12 will perform a classical concert on Sunday, the culmination of her advanced lessons this semester.
Art Smarts: Holmgren’s recital composed of diverse melodies
In her recital next Saturday, Katarina Holmgren '13 will sing selections that range from opera to musical theater pieces.
Art Smarts: World Music Ensemble brings Colombian sounds to life
Music from the southern-Pacific region of Colombia filled Studzinki Recital Hall on Wednesday when the Afro-Colombian Music Ensemble played marimba under the direction of Professor Michael Birenbaum Quintero.
Men’s lacrosse grabs playoff victory over two-seed Amherst
The men's lacrosse team has caught fire and now sits just two wins away from clinching the NESCAC title as it prepares for a rematch with the NESCAC regular season champions, Tufts, on Saturday.
Baseball takes one of three from Jumbos
With the top spot in the division at stake, Bowdoin and Tufts University began a three-game series last weekend in Medford, Mass.
Women’s lax beats Amherst in quarterfinals
The women's lacrosse team secured the second seed in the NESCAC tournament last Friday at Tufts with a 7-6 win over the Jumbos.
Men’s tennis takes four-game winning streak into NESCACs
The men's tennis team finished its regular season in style, with two wins over rivals Trinity and Colby last weekend. On Friday, the 14th-ranked Polar Bears defeated the 15th-ranked Bantams 7-2 at Harvard.
Women’s novice crew team takes gold at New England Rowing Championship
It makes all those mornings of getting up early worthwhile. Last weekend, the crew team cleaned up last weekend in Worchester, Mass. at the at the New England Rowing Championship, which hosts approximately 1,200 athletes representing 36 schools.
Softball team beats Bates by one in final game
The softball team ended its season on a strong note with a 1-0 victory over Bates on Sunday. The game was the last of the season for both teams, who were both eliminated prior to the NESCAC postseason tournament.
Men’s track places sixth at NESCAC championship
The men's track team traveled to Wesleyan last weekend to compete in the NESCAC Track and Field Championships, where the Polar Bears claimed sixth place.
Women’s track takes fifth place at NESCACs
At the NESCAC Championship at Wesleyan University, the women's track team clinched fifth place in a day marked by personal achievements.
Women’s tennis beats Wellesley in last match of regular season
The Polar Bears will play No. 4-seed Middlebury in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament
The women's tennis team wrapped up a successful regular season with a commanding 9-0 victory over Wellesley College this past Saturday on the road.
After bomb scare, sailing posts seventh place finish
The sailing team finished its spring season at the Morris Trophy, hosted by BU, with a squad composed entirely of underclassmen. Coach Frank Pizzo called the event "a preview of next year's team."