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Non-majors to get boot from poli-sci courses

By Mitra Taj
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 1, 2004
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Students who are not political science sophomores, juniors or seniors will be dropped from any upper-division political science classes they register for.

According to an e-mail sent Tuesday night by political science academic adviser Pamela Coonan, the restrictions, which will affect political science minors, freshmen and non-political science majors, are an attempt to battle the overcrowding problems in classrooms the department has been facing as a result of "funding crunches."

Lower-division political science courses will still be open to all interested students.

"The problem is simply that we are unable to teach our majors," said Bill Mishler, head of the political science department. "Minors and others that want to take courses from us have to wait."

The e-mail said the department will stop dropping nonmajors and political science freshmen from those courses on April 24, when any remaining upper-division seats will be up for grabs.

Mishler said the 800 to 900 upper-division seats that are available for next semester's political science courses are no match for the more than 1,200 political science majors the department must serve.

"Our first priority is to teach our majors," Mishler said.

While enrollment in the political science department has shot up over the years, the number of faculty members has darted in the opposite direction, Mishler said, a combination that is overflowing classrooms and delaying seniors' graduation date.

"We have 10 fewer faculty members than in past years but we have twice as many majors," Mishler said. "As far as I know there's no other department that's grown like that."

Mishler said this year, the political science department has lost two faculty members and hired one. Two others have offers for positions at other universities.

"If majors are doubled and faculty is cut in half, the bottom line is obvious," said Mishler."

Mishler said that the political science department is engaged in a three-year-old struggle with UA administration to get more funds but that the university has yet to lend support.

Chris Marino, a political science senior who plans to graduate in December, said the news is welcome help to his graduating plans.

"It's great," Marino said. "I'll actually be able to get my classes now."

He said out of the six classes he is taking now, he was only able to register for two of them last semester. He said persistence helped him add the other classes on during the first week of school.

"I've been here now long enough that it's routine being uncertain the first few days of school."

Chad Wellins, a political science and history education major and Wildcat employee, said that though the restrictions will benefit him because he is a junior, he thinks it's "unfair to everyone else that's trying to take classes."

Because the UA is a public university, Wellins said all who are interested should have access to classes.

"Taxpayers are paying for the university," Wellins said. "As many people should be able to get in as wanted," he said.

Wellins said he thought discussion with students might have helped department administration find an alternative solution.

"There should be some democracy in this institution," he said. "But I don't think there's any other solution."

Emanuel Navarro, a political science sophomore, said the restrictions are "not cool." "It's not the students' fault that the university doesn't pay faculty enough," he said.

Scott Maislin, a political science freshman, said he understands the problems the department is facing and doesn't mind not being able to take an upper-division political science class next semester.

"I know majors need it and freshmen are really in no rush," he said.

Mishler said problems will continue "unless the university puts money into programs with high numbers of enrollment."

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