Just days before the beginning of fall quarter, students who registered for any of the five lower division computer science classes — CSCI 101, 102, 120, 140 and 202 —received an email informing them the class had been canceled.
“It was really last minute,” senior Nhi Nguyen said. “I check my email pretty religiously, so I found out pretty much right away.”
Students were not informed of the cancellations until Sept. 15, six days before the start of fall quarter 2016 classes.
Nguyen was signed up for CSCI 202 as a prerequisite for a series of classes she needs for a certification in content development. CSCI 202 is a prerequisite for Management Information Systems 314, which is a prerequisite for a 400-level class Nguyen was planning to take in the spring. Her initial plan was to graduate in spring 2017 by completing the series within the year. The cancellations have made this more complicated.
According to Filip Jagodzinski, an associate professor in the computer science department, the classes were canceled because the department didn’t have enough professors to teach them.
“It’s not that the professors who were going to teach them are here and they didn’t want to teach them,” Jagodzinski said. “We were not able to fill the positions, as far as I know.”
According to Nguyen, students were not informed of the reason for cancellation as the email claimed they were canceled “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
“I ended up not getting into any of the waitlisted classes because it was last-minute.”
“It was days before the quarter started, so all the classes I needed to take either for my minor or my major were all full, so I just waitlisted a bunch of classes,” Nguyen said. “I ended up not getting into any of the waitlisted classes because it was last-minute.”
In response to why the classes were canceled last-minute, Jagodzinski said he was aware of the timing issue.
“Courses that are taught by non-tenured track, negotiations for those I think are ongoing until the very end, unfortunately,” Jagodzinski said.
As for how the department is working with students whose plans of study have been altered, Nguyen said her advisor informed her they were working on a solution, and would email her back in a couple of days.
According to an article in The Seattle Times from April 2016, the number of students interested in the pre-major and major of computer science at Western is approximately five times what it was five years ago.
This increase can be seen statewide due to an increase in salaries to six-figures for many Western graduates, according to the same article. This increase has put pressure on computer science departments to meet the needs of more students.
Jagodzinski teaches a completely full CSCI 141 class and, in order to meet high demands of the department, agreed to let 20 additional students into the class to help students affected by cancellations.
“[CSCI] 141 is extremely popular. I was scheduled to teach 200 students, and even if [CSCI] 140 wasn’t canceled, there’s still a huge backlog for [CSCI] 141,” Jagodzinski said. “So, it’s not that I opened up an extra 20 seats just to accommodate a few of the [CSCI] 140 students, but yeah, I’m sure it helped.”