For spring 2009 course registration, which began Thursday, students will no longer be bumped from first-choice classes in order to increase the enrollment of under-enrolled second-choice classes. Such a policy was implemented during registration for Fall 2008 courses, which took place in May for upperclassmen. It aimed to prevent some courses from being canceled due to an enrollment of fewer than five students, and it affected 23 students' course schedules.
"We talked to a number of people about it, and it seemed, most fundamentally, to undermine the process," said Sam Dinning '09, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) Vice-President for Academic Affairs.
"I think generally around campus there was a lot of uproar," Dinning said.
According to Dinning, after course registration in the spring, BSG passed a resolution against the new policy.
The resolution outlined the reasons that BSG believed the policy was "illogical and ineffective." BSG reasoned that the policy causes students to be "intentionally deceived," and "that it would encourage students not to apply for second-choice classes and discourage them from applying for second-choice classes that are unlikely to be popular. Finally, the resolution argued that "students will simply switch classes during Phase II or add/drop."
Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd, who was unavailable for an interview but responded to the Orient in a detailed e-mail, wrote, "Our intention in the fall semester was to take account of both the maximum and minimum class size restrictions and to achieve the most first choices for the most students."
However, according to Judd, the registration for Spring 2008 courses will continue as it has in previous years, without intervention during Phase I. When student demand for first-choice classes exceeds the number of spaces available, students will be placed in the course according to a randomization algorithm. After Phase I, the Office of the Dean for Academic Affairs will determine whether to cancel courses with fewer than five students enrolled.
Judd explained that the increase in the number of faculty in recent years has resulted in an increased breadth of course offerings, which she wrote "comes into consideration of how to meet student and faculty preferences."
"In trying to respect both faculty and student preference, along with all of the other constraints (class size, schedule, major requirements, etc.) we have one of the most complicated registration processes of any of our peers," Judd wrote.
This year, the Curriculum Implementation Committee (CIC) is examining the issue of respecting both faculty and student preferences, and it will make a recommendation of how to best accommodate both. Unless the CIC decides to re-implement the policy used during registration for Fall 2008 courses, course registration will continue as it has in recent years.
Another change made in course registration this year affects placement in first-year seminars. First-year seminars, which are capped at 16, have been a graduation requirement since 2005. In the recent past, first years have registered by ranking a number of courses by preference. However, this year's first-year class was asked to select four courses without ranking them by preference.
"This change in practice was instituted to expand the nature of the advising conversations about how students choose these seminars," Judd wrote.
She added that the change also encourages students to recognize that the importance of the first-year seminar is not "primarily dependent on discipline and topic."
Finally, she explained that the change also helps to "distribute students across a range of seminars in an effort to ensure that as many students as possible are able to enroll in a seminar that has critical mass."
-Claire Collery contributed to this report.This article was corrected on November 14, 2008.