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.”
Rapper Childish Gambino to headline Ivies Concert
Childish Gambino will headline this year's Ivies Concert, along with the indie-pop duo Phantogram and the DJ mash-up artist Milkman, according to the Entertainment Board (E-Board). Ivies, which will take place Saturday April 28, is the biggest show the E-Board plans each year and is both eagerly anticipated and widely attended by students. The E-Board's primary considerations in selecting the acts were the results of a student survey conducted last semester.
Satellite investment office established in New York City
Bowdoin has established a second investment office in New York City, College officials confirmed this week. A statement sent to the Orient did not disclose the date of the opening, though a February 22 article published on the website of Foundation and Endowment Intelligence suggests that it occurred earlier this year.
Snowe will not seek re-election, King undecided
Maine senator cites lack
United States Senator Olympia Snowe shocked the Maine political scene on Tuesday when she announced that she would not seek re-election in November. Her decision prompted a flurry of speculation as to who would run for her seat. The senator made her announcement in a written statement, citing "an atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies" as the motivating forces behind her decision.
Committee proposes chem-free changes
A committee charged with examining chem-free housing published recommendations this week for how to improve the system. If adopted, the proposed changes would alter the residential and social landscape for first year students. Under the current system, Hyde Hall is a chem-free living space and all incoming first year students who elect to live chem-free are placed there. The College, however, has no strict definition for the term chem-free.
Class of 2012 gift to fund financial aid over next four years
The Class of 2012 senior gift is one that promises to keep on giving to the College's financial aid program. Current seniors and members of the development office have begun the process of creating a class gift that will have an immediate impact on the Class of 2016. The gift will take the form of a new scholarship for financial aid. It is yet to be determined if a single student will benefit or if the funds will be divided among multiple students in the next academic year.
BSG delays vote on use of force at student protests, to discuss C/D/F
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) touched upon a number of issues this week, ranging from the assembly's stance on the Northwestern University Associated Student Government's statement against police force during college protests to Bowdoin's credit/D/fail and add-drop systems.
Downeaster funding, Brunswick expansion threatened by new bills
The Downeaster expansion is being threatened by transportation bills now in Congress that could reduce funding. The bills awaiting votes in Congress would prohibit Maine and other states from using the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program to fund the train line, which is currently accounting for close to $6 million of the Downeaster's $15.1 million annual operating budget.
Carter ’13 joins Cumberland County Dem-Committee
Junior Elisabeth Carter attended the Brunswick Democratic Caucus with no intention of becoming a local representative, but by the end of the Sunday meeting she was one of the 12 members of the Cumberland County Democratic Committee.
Baxter, Ladd, and Helmreich lead in damages for first semester
A total of $7,899 in damages to student residences occured in fall 2011. According to the report compiled by Lisa Rendall, associate director of housing operations, Baxter House accrued $3,193 or 40.4 percent of the damage costs.
College debuts new, efficient steam turbine system
Bowdoin's new steam turbine-generator, installed last summer, is officially up and running. The College finished commissioning and testing the turbine in early February, according to John Simoneau, facilities project manager. Since February 17, the earliest date for which data is available, the turbine has generated 71,032 kilowatt hours, or 18 percent of the campus' total electricity.
Editorial: A chem-free solution
The recommendations for revising the housing system are a good first step, but clustering chem-free rooms and adding a ninth College House should come next.
On Wednesday, Dean Foster sent a school-wide email with the findings of the Chem-Free Housing Review Committee. After gauging the opinion of the community, the committee found that stigmatization, social rifts, and de facto racial, cultural and ethnic segregation have resulted from the current system. The committee put forward several recommendations aimed at eliminating the stigma attached to chem-free students.
The Cold, Hardt, Truth: GOP threatened by conservative division
The race for the Republican nomination has intensified in recent weeks, but it doesn't look like the GOP is moving any closer to the finish line. With each passing election, it's becoming increasingly clear that there is no candidate in the Republican field that can appeal to all the major voting blocs that make up the party's base. And this is a big problem for Republicans.
As I Please: Santorum's refusal to separate church and state is frightening
Last weekend, Rick Santorum offered his latest nugget of wisdom. He made a variety of statements, which included the fact that he does not "believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute."
Southpaw: Santorum: clueless and alienating
"I don't believe in an America where separation of church and state is absolute...To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you makes you throw up." (February 26, "This Week with George Stephanopoulos") "And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country, the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age?" (August 29, 2008, Ave Maria University)
Despite popular perceptions, humans can be part of nature too
The idea of nature, of a pristine wilderness characterized by its separation from man, is a widely accepted notion. We are told—and believe—that to "experience" nature, we must step off of the paved road, away from the comforts of civilization. Some environments are more "natural" than others like, say, New York City, but true nature is inherently separate. Bill McKibben perfectly defines our concept of nature in his book, "The End of Nature," as "the separate and wild province, the world apart from man."
- February 24
Editorial: Student research
Applications for Bowdoin-funded grants and fellowships are due next week, and the competition for awards to conduct research in the library's archives or on Kent Island is intense. While students of all disciplines are invited to apply for summer research grants, the applicants most likely to be successful probably take the lion's share of their classes in Druckenmiller.
- February 24
Half-Assed: J Street seeks to depolarize Israel
The question of how young American Jews will relate to Israel in their adulthood is one that haunts the thoughts and plans of many older American Jews.
- February 24
Your Foreign Correspondent: GOP’s perception of Europe is inaccurate
Lately, the Republican presidential candidates have taken it upon themselves to collectively portray Europe as a nightmarish fantasy world. Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have all made allegations that Europe is in the chokehold of socialism, burdened by large welfare systems and high taxes, an anathema to their vision for America.
- February 24
Middle Eastern stereotypes damaging to global society
If learning extends to the world beyond the classroom, it is sad to see that certain stereotypes endure when Americans pursue their studies abroad. As a Moroccan student at Bowdoin, I was deeply dismayed in realizing the persistence of American misconceptions about the Middle East so patent in Sam Frizell's Talk of the Quad piece "The far side of the strait" (February 17).
- February 17
Editorial: Mind the gap
With the conclusion of Early Decision II admissions, 224 high school seniors have accepted a place in the Class of 2016. And after March 23, the target date for sending out regular decision letters, about 260 more will join them as the next incoming class takes shape. The rush of getting accepted to college might be enough to get many high school seniors to accept their spots in the Class of 2016 almost as soon as they rip open their fat envelopes. But amid all the excitement, consider what sending that letter back really means.
It's a date! Emma Lewis '14 and Tim Hunt '14
Brought to you by the Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention, "It's a Date!" sets up brave Bowdoin students on blind dates in order to report the hilarious, unexpected and awkward parts of their rendez-vous.
Good Brews, Everyone!: In fruit beer, look for subtle flavors and stay away from Sam Adams
I'm not especially proud of myself this week. After a solid four years spent unrelentingly mocking my male roommate for not drinking beer and opting for the sweeter pleasures of Twisted Tea, I decided it was only fair that I review the most effeminate of beers: fruit beers.
Dear Doctor Kinsey: Channeling Kinsey, Class of 1916, for answers on sex and love
It feels like a given for our generation: we're entitled to explore and discuss sex as we please. Although it's easy to forget why we do so, it remains valuable to remind ourselves of what we stand to gain by sharing our experiences in bed and in love. After all, not talking about sex—refusing to acknowledge it—is probably the oldest form of sexual repression. Silence keeps us feeling alone and in the dark, whereas responding to the variety of sexual experiences and identities that surround us is reassuring (maybe others have the same questions we do) and liberating (if they did, maybe we can too).
Bowdoin's 'toxic' son
Robert Friedland is a man addicted to risk and profit. His life has taken him from a first year classroom at Bowdoin, to a cell in federal prison, to a commune with Steve Jobs, to a gold mine in Guyana, to the Forbes list of billionaires. This career trajectory may be unorthodox, but his desire to accrue wealth is undeniable. In whatever endeavor he chooses, Friedland has repeatedly shown that he is not afraid to seize opportunity, no matter how hazardous.
- February 24
Bursting the Bubble: Diving into Denmark: juniors explore Copenhagen
When deciding where to study abroad, students often find themselves asking tricky questions, like, where can I spend a semester that would make traveling easy? Where can I find a vibrant nightlife and a welcoming culture without a language barrier? Last spring, 13 members of the class of '13 arrived at same answer: Copenhagen, Denmark.
- February 24
Coppin' a meal: Rich and buttery, ‘Millie cookies’ make for an indulgent dessert
My great-grandmother used to make these cookies, which is how my family came to call them "Millie cookies." The recipe, however, sounds like something out of Paula Deen's kitchen. The cookies require two sticks of butter and the dough is so rich that you don't even need to butter the cookie sheet to prevent sticking. They've become less popular in my house since the late '90s—when my parents realized cholesterol was a thing—but these cookies were a constant part of my childhood.
- February 24
Talk of the Quad: Stuffed animals
Squirrels and crows may be the most conspicuous creatures on campus, but the College boasts a bevy of beasts far more majestic—albeit less lively. A regal walrus and black-crowned night heron are among the many taxidermy specimens in Bowdoin's collection, and while scores of students weave around the iconic polar bear in Buck every day, other animals lie just off the beaten path.
- February 24
Talk of the Quad: A meal from home
On a cursory glance, The Three One Cafe could pass as a greasy spoon on any main street in small town America. The walls are a shabby pastel yellow, the booths linoleum, and the tableware is all plastic. A TV tuned to "Cops" plays in the background, and a sign that says "Mom's Diner" hangs beneath the cash register. But the Three One Cafe in Lewiston is not a middle-American diner: it is the town's only Somali restaurant, a cultural oasis where some of the area's 3,000 Somali immigrants can congregate and see their countrymen over the food that reminds them of home.
- February 17
Seeking creature comfort, animal lovers bypass ‘no pets’ policy
There is a gecko in the Tower. His name is Queso.
- February 17
Good Brews, Everyone!: In Budweiser taste-off, Bud Heavy beats out Light and Platinum
It was Sunday night, and I had yet to review any beers. Even worse, I had absolutely no clue what to write about for this article.
Arts & Entertainment
‘Top Girls’ tackles Thatcherite struggle
This year marks the 40th anniversary of women at Bowdoin and the Department of Theater and Dance has not missed the opportunity to comment on the challenges women have faced breaking into various fields. "Top Girls," directed by Assistant Professor of Theater Abigail Killeen, tracks one driven woman's struggle to ascend the ladder of an employment agency in early-1980s Britain. The play, written by Caryl Churchill, premiered last night and will be performed again tonight and tomorrow.
‘Pillowman’ to bring dark humor, puppetry to stage
Zach Perez ‘12 will direct Martin McDonagh’s dystopian play as part of an independent study under Roger Bechtel
Featuring interweaving secret police investigations and puppetry sequences, senior Zach Perez's production of Martin McDonagh's "The Pillowman" will run Wednesday and Thursday.
Artist on quest for impossible to lecture
Renowned conceptual artist and documentary filmmaker Lenka Clayton is presently trying to send a handmade letter to every household in the world.
The Hum and the Beat: ‘Kindred’ sees Burial at his most accessible
William Bevan, the electronic solo artist also known as Burial, has attracted much critical acclaim, but his music has always struck me as too detached and too unfeeling. His 2007 release "Untrue" lacked the emotional truth that characterizes the strongest and most poignant electronic works. Bevan's DJ stints around London and the four EPs to his name have taken strange and innovative stabs at redefining exactly what electronic music can be, and the result has often been far from accessible.
NES-thetics: Video games warrant preservation
For many of us on the verge of adulthood, "Halo 2" online gameplay reminds us of an earlier time—our childhood. "Halo 2" was more than a game, it was a social event, a cultural touchstone that connected millions of people through a shared experience. In the same way children of the '70s can recount the staggering impact of their first time seeing "Star Wars" or "Jaws," someone who grew up in the new millennium can recall the first time they booted up "Halo 2" over the fledgling "Xbox Live" service and battled someone on the other side of the country. It was a pivotal moment of the emerging digital age, a precursor to the always-on connectivity that defines the modern social experience.
Facts on Fiction: ‘Art of Fielding’ changes landscape of contemporary literature
One of the most underrated episodes in the history of "The Simpsons" is a little ditty from the fourth season entitled "Duffless." Although it's one of the most disjointed of the show's entire run, the episode is both touching and poignant as it depicts a month-long struggle Homer undertakes in an attempt to overcome his alcoholism. It's also damn funny.
Art Smarts: Spose of ‘I’m Awesome’ fame takes stage tonight
Rapper Spose will perform tonight at the Pub as the debut act in the WBOR Spring Concert Series. Spose, who came to national renown when his single "I'm Awesome" reached the Billboard's Top 40 in January 2010, has released two full-length albums and is set to release a third, "The Audacity!," on April 17.
- February 24
NPR’s ‘From the Top’ to record in Studzinski Hall
The sounds of Studzinski will hit the airwaves next week when National Public Radio's "From the Top" records a new installment of their program featuring Allen Wong Yu '14 on piano.
- February 24
Maine’s Poet Laureate responds to Longfellow
Taking the stage in blue jeans, a button-up shirt, tie, and brown New Balance shoes, Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair introduced his audience to an oft-neglected element of Longfellow's poetry.
- February 24
‘History Boys’ explores educational methods, sexual identity
A group of unruly and existentialist British schoolboys take the Pickard stage this weekend in Masque and Gown's production of "History Boys."
Messina propels men’s hockey into NESCAC championship weekend
After outlasting Trinity 2-1 on Saturday, the second-seeded men's ice hockey team will take on third-ranked Middlebury tomorrow in the NESCAC semifinals. Trinity scored the first goal of the match 1:54 into the first period, but goaltender Steve Messina '14 stopped the next 31 shots to keep the Polar Bears in contention.
Ludy OT goal keeps women’s hockey alive
Thanks to a goal by Stephanie Ludy '13 with 21 seconds left in overtime, the women's hockey team is heading to the NESCAC semifinals for the third year in a row. The third-ranked Polar Bears will play second-seeded Amherst tomorrow after a 3-2 victory over Williams last Saturday.
Women’s basketball ousted by Tufts in NESCAC semis
The experience and fortitude of the women's basketball team will be put to the test today in what could be Bowdoin's final game of the season. After getting ousted from the NESCAC playoffs in a 55-40 loss to Tufts in the semifinals, the Polar Bears (19-7) will face the University of Southern Maine in the first round of the NCAA D-III tournament at 6 p.m. tonight in Ithaca, N.Y.
Curling prepares for home bonspiel
After winning a national championship in its first season last year, Bowdoin's club curling team is looking to repeat its early success. More than halfway done with its season, which ends in April, the team has its sole home competition this weekend.
Athlete of the Week: Mac Routh '12
Due in large part to the efforts of captain Mac Routh '12, the men's swimming and diving team had its best ever-finish at the NESCAC Championships this past weekend. Routh broke three individual school records and was a member of relay teams that broke four more, and on Tuesday, was named an All-NESCAC performer.
The Mudville Nine: 26 Seconds: LeBron becomes latest education spokesman
LeBron James, as part of his partnership with State Farm Insurance Company, has started supporting the company's 26 Seconds campaign to help raise awareness about the number of high school dropouts in the country. The operation calls young people to action to address a hard-hitting statistic: every 26 seconds in the United States, a student drops out of high school.
Records fly as men’s swimming posts best-ever finish at NESCACs
Ten school records fell on the way to the men's swimming and diving team's fifth-place finish at the NESCAC championships last weekend at Williams, marking the team's best ever performance in the 12-year history of the meet. Captain Mac Routh '12 posted the best Polar Bear finish by winning the 50 butterfly, while taking second in the 50 backstroke and fourth in the 100 fly. He set new Bowdoin records in all three events.
Weekly Roundup: Wesleyan, Amherst beat women’s squash at nationals
The women's squash finished 20th in the nation at the College Squash Association Team National Tournament at Harvard last weekend. It was a weekend of rematches, as Bowdoin faced three teams that it had defeated in the regular season.
Weekly Roundup: Millett, Horowitz shine for track at Open New Englands
Although the men's and women's track teams did not send many athletes to the Open New England Championships last weekend at Boston University, those who competed posted high finishes against their regional opponents. Captain Elsa Millett '12 finished third in the 400-meter dash with a time of 55.82 while Olivia MacKenzie '13 earned a third-place finish in the 5000 meters with a time of 17:40.88. Anna Ackerman '12 earned an eighth-place finish in the 3000-meter run with a time of 10:12.93. Annie Huyler '12 placed seventh in the heptathlon with 3,219 points.
Weekly Roundup: Eusden leads Nordic skiing to 10th place at championships
The Nordic ski team completed its season at the Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association Championships much in much the same way it has performed all season: near the bottom of the pack, finishing 10th out of 13 teams. Head Coach Nathan Alsobrook said that the carnival was "as much an odyssey as it was a ski race. The sky was dumping snow all through the race and the wind was howling," which led to "very slow and sloppy conditions."