The Vermont Cynic

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Sociology department fills course

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Students have raised concerns over the amount of space available for “Introduction to Sociology”.

Only one 145-person sociology 001 class is being offered in the spring, and three overrides have already been granted. Professor Beth Mintz, the course instructor, said she has been giving overrides to all who have asked.

“I am more than happy to continue to do so until we hit room capacity,” Mintz stated in a Nov. 30 email to the Cynic.

First-year Alexander Weingart said that they’re running more sections of 0 to 100-level courses to offset Cowan’s retirement, which has forced movement in the schedule.

“That being said, this demonstrates the issue with tenure — now they don’t have anyone wanting to teach ‘Intro to Sociology’ and they’re unwilling to force the ‘tenured’ faculty to do so,” Weingart said.

Dale Jaffe, chair of the sociology department, said the class has been affected by the recent retirement of its usual professor, Brookes Cowan.  

However, offering one section of “Introduction to Sociology” in the spring is not unusual, Jaffe said.

“We have enrollment targets based on historical enrollments, and we can offer whatever classes to meet those targets within each level of courses, from intro, to 100, to 200,” Jaffe said.

In response to the claim that it is difficult to find another professor to teach the course, Jaffe said that professors change courses often.

“Over time, we teach different things,” Jaffe said. “At the same time, there are people who like certain classes and are good at teaching them.”

To fulfill student need for intro-level courses, the sociology department is offering multiple options in the spring in place of “Introduction to Sociology,” including “Race Relations in the U.S.” and “Sociology of the Family,” neither of which require prerequisites.

The majority of students who take “Introduction to Sociology” are not declared majors yet, and would not be affected if they were unable to take the course, Jaffe said.  He said he does not think the lack of space is a problem.

“If students feel they can’t take courses they need, that to me is a big deal,” Jaffe said.

Jaffe said the department is also considering the possibility of offering additional  smaller classes, particularly for first-years, to make for an easier transition to college. Most students who take “Introduction to Sociology” do so in the fall of their first year, Jaffe said.

First-year Abigail Bartram also feels that Intro to Sociology is a course generally taken in the fall semester.

“I think the reason for that is probably that they assume that most potential majors will take it in the fall,” Bartram said. “Most other intro-level classes are offered in the fall. Some are in the spring too of course, but I think they’re all smaller.”

 

About the Writer
Bryan O'Keefe, Former Managing Editor
Bryan is the managing editor of the Vermont Cynic and has been involved since Jan. 2015. Prior to his position as managing editor, he was a news writer and the assistant news editor from 2015-2016.
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Sociology department fills course