News | Students wait to be waitlisted

The Art History department introduced Minerva’s waitlist feature this semester when faced with an excess of students desperate to secure a seat in its few undergraduate classes, but waitlists are largely full, leaving many students out of luck.

Five undergraduate classes have waitlists, but at press time, only two spots were open. With about 250 undergraduate students enrolled in the department, nearly all of the 13 courses offered by the Department are full.

Justine Desrosiers, U1 Art History, was disappointed that winding up on the waitlist for Photography and Art was not solving her registration concerns.

“I wouldn’t have taken this course if the others hadn’t already been full, and here I am on the waitlist as well,” she said.

The corridors outside Art History Faculty advisor Maria Gabrielle’s office were swamped yesterday with anxious students desperate to land a spot in full classes. Students criticized the waitlists and complained that being waitlisted removed the chances of landing a spot in a class by hounding Minerva.

Art History Department Chair, Dr. Jonathan Sterne, admitted that the department was dissatisfied with the current waitlist software and hoped it will be developed soon to prioritize graduating students.

“The system has some real limitations and more sophisticated waitlist software could be developed,” Sterne told the Daily in an email.

U1 psychology student Margot van der Kroget, also trying to get into Photography and Art, said she has given up hope.

“The department is definitely too small for the great demand,” van der Kroget said.

Staffed by 14 professors and a handful of teaching assistants, the Art History department has struggled in recent years to accommodate students in its major and minor concentrations. In September 2007 – when three undergraduate classes were cancelled at the last minute – the department decided to only credit students a maximum of six credits from the Communications department. The departments then merged and changed their name that year to “Art History and Communications Studies.”

Assistant Art History Professor Richard Taws wasn’t convinced that increasing the capacity of undergraduate classes is the appropriate solution to overcrowding.

“We don’t want our teaching to be compromised. It is important to maintain the standard [of teaching],” Taws said.

Sterne said the department is looking to introduce classes on Islamic and First Nations’ Art in the coming years. The department plans to recruit a new full-time assistant professor to teach Early Modern/Renaissance Art by August 2009. He is worried that the University’s reluctance to increase faculty numbers overall will make the Art History Department’s plan for expansion difficult to realize.

Taws urged students desperate to meet calendar requirements for completion of their majors and minors to meet a faculty adviser.

“We try to problem solve during disaster time, rather than wait too long,” he said.


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