Zoe Berg, Photo Editor
On Nov. 2, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler sent an email to the Yale undergraduate student body with details for next semester’s course registration, notably the Dec. 18 preliminary schedule deadline. While students and faculty alike criticized the message for coming right before the presidential election and for the course selection deadline during finals week, some faculty noted that the extra time between the preliminary course schedule submission and the start of the spring semester is useful for course planning.
Concerns rested both on the content of the email — the pre-registration system, which is similar to that of last semester, and the finals week deadlines — as well as the timing of the email, which came right before Election Day, during midterm season, and, for those living on campus in the spring semester, housing deadlines.
“I was really shocked and frustrated by [their] email, because it seemed so tone-deaf,” Dania Baig ’23 told the News. “[The email] was like, I know all of you are really stressed about the election and midterms and stuff and then he sent an email about pre-registering for classes the day before the election starts, which is the peak of everyone’s anxiety at that point.”
Baig also described the Dec. 18 deadline as “ridiculous,” especially considering that the spring semester, which will start on Feb. 1, is delayed by approximately two weeks. A first-year counselor interviewed by the News, Joe Allen ’21, agreed.
Allen, who is taking a majority of seminar-based classes this year, said that the application process for seminars is “quite lengthy” and can distract from school work around finals.
“Part of the confusion in my mind is we have this entire month of January where nothing is going to be happening, people are going to be home, they probably have more free time than in December,” Allen told the News. “Why couldn’t the process happen then?”
Baig, who is applying to Yale’s Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights, also has the extra anxiety of having to make two schedules: one if she is accepted into the program, and one if she is not, as she will not hear back until sometime in December.
Gendler told the News that the pre-registration timeline was created both so that, in December, courses could be adjusted to help match the demand from students, and so that students and faculty alike could have an “honest break” from late December through January.
Gendler also noted that, while the email came in early November, the email was supposed to be one of reassurance rather than stress.
“This is a message that says relax, when you come back after Thanksgiving, thinking about next semester, you will have all the information you need,” Gendler said. “Don’t worry about it until then.”
Three professors interviewed by the News said that the pre-registration system and the early deadline were conducive to their own course planning, while one, echoing student concerns, told the News that the early deadlines would only add more work and stress to both students and faculty.
Claudia Valeggia, professor of Anthropology, told the News that extra time built into the course planning schedule is something faculty have been requesting for a while.
“I usually teach courses that draw large enrollments (large compared to other Anthropology courses, I mean) and I have struggled to organize my teaching around the demand in relation to the availability of TFs,” Valeggia wrote in an email to the News. “I did not know the enrollment until one week into the semester. If I do not know the estimated enrollment, I cannot request the correct number of TFs with enough time to find them. So, from the point of view of instructors this new schedule makes a lot of sense.”
Valeggia acknowledged how the deadlines may be anxiety-inducing for students, but also noted that there is an add/drop period at a later point that can help accommodate schedule changes.
Andrew Johnston, director of undergraduate studies for the Classics Department, agreed with Valeggia, telling the News that the extra time allows for appropriate lecture and teaching fellow staffing, as well as timely advising and curriculum planning.
“Without presuming to fully understand all of the diverse and complex concerns of the undergraduate community around this issue, I would nonetheless suggest that students’ educational experience in the spring semester will be most successful and most robust if their instructors are allowed the extra time to plan the courses that they will teach, rather than if the extra time were given to the students for planning the courses that they will take,” Johnston said.
Not all faculty, however, feel the same. Professor Jacqueline Goldsby, the chair of the Department of African American Studies, told the News that the new pre-registration system only accelerates deadlines, instead of alleviating stress.
Goldsby spoke specifically of the Nov. 30 expanded course description deadline for faculty, which she called “distracting” from the current moment and teaching for this semester.
“Any way I cut it now, though, moving to a preregistration system entails more, not less, work,” Goldsby wrote in an email to the News.
Friday, Feb. 5, at 5 p.m. is the deadline for students to submit their final OCS schedule worksheet.
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