Dateline: Downtown

Dateline: Downtown

Dateline: Downtown

Dan Roche

Last semester, after UMass Boston finally made it across Morrissey Blvd. into the pages of the Globe, it was due to controversy. As I understand it, the College of Community and Public Service had seen classes switched, with the outcome being that professors were sent to teach classes that were quite outside their field of expertise.

Amid the controversy, your ham-handed opinion editor of the Mass Media dove in, ruffled some feathers at CPCS and ultimately dropped the subject. I suggested that, well, maybe the administration has a point. They have a budget to think about, you know, and sometimes when you have to make unpleasant and unnecessary cuts, and that can lead to shake-ups…

I hereby apologize to Jason and the CPCS professors I tangled with. They were right; the administration is too quick to make cuts. Some of these cuts are causing unnecessary chaos. Some of these cuts are eliminating damn good classes.

It’s not that I think Chancellor Collins and the administration are carrying out a scorched-earth policy. They must have budget constraints that are I’m sure, formidable. Getting the school into the black and taking our program into the future, which I feel the Chancellor is intent on doing, may be, well, an omelet that requires breaking more eggs than he wants to think about.

Cuts are going to come to popular or well-regarded classes, and there are sometimes contentious situations arise at any school. It’s just the nature of bureaucracy, which no school the size of UMass Boston can escape, that no one leaves happy. But people can still leave unhappy that their dream conditions haven’t been met while still satisfied that they’ve been heard, that some amount of justice has been done for the students. It has to be a collaborative process, or mutinies are going to happen.

Cutting classes that may be extremely beneficial to a lower number of students harm what should be the school’s paramount mission: to provide a freaking awesome, Grade-A, number-one spectacular public university education. If I’m a Classics major, I want Greek I and II. I don’t want “Studies in Naked Greeks Flexing,” no matter how many other classmates I may find in the latter. Not that there isn’t room for the latter as well, but we should take care to see that the classes being dropped aren’t solely due to low enrollment.

Certainly, classes have to put butts in the seats, and by and large, the best classes are the ones that draw the most of our alternately pulchritudinous and he-beastly student body into the classrooms, but there are some classes that are just good to have, even though the assorted enrollees couldn’t put together a soccer team. Maybe the Economics professors can lull the lavish fops and rakes in the English Department with absinthe and soma long enough to crunch the necessary numbers with the administration to get everybody if not happy, then at least agreeable. I’m not sure how these important strategy joints operate.

The individual departments, whether Classics or English or Maths & Sciences shouldn’t have any pre-semester surprises. Understanding, of course, that many students switch classes in the early semester, which must be a nightmare to keep track of when monitoring class size.

So don’t monitor class size so much. Measure the quality of the curriculum first and last, let the professors work, and the butts will seat themselves. We’re students, not cattle.