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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Combat rising class sizes

Published: October 24, 2014
Section: Opinions

Patience is a virtue, that’s what my parents told me. I don’t like being patient, and I dare you to find me someone who actually likes waiting. It probably isn’t just me, but the lines for food at Usdan feel longer. Not just that, but finding a table is Mission Impossible: Brandeis Dining Edition. I know this has a lot to do with timing, but that’s not the only explanation. Brandeis has gotten a little more crowded in recent years, and it isn’t only affecting how efficiently you get your food.

Two years ago, Brandeis had a record-breaking number of applicants, and last year’s number of applicants exceeded that. This is a good thing. Brandeis is a good school, and there should be an amount of applicants that reflects its excellence. Nevertheless, Brandeis’ acceptance rate has not changed that much. It is more competitive than ever before to get in, but the school is also accepting more students than ever before.

This serves as an explanation for all of you in a forced triple. The fact is that the population on campus has continued to increase, while Brandeis itself isn’t getting any bigger. In triples, students are forced to share closets and make do with a confined amount of space. College living itself is something to get used to, without the extra challenge of multiple roommates. Speaking of housing, it’s only guaranteed for your first two years, because of the lack of space. The campus just does not have enough space for everyone.

Simply, there is a limit on how many people can occupy a confined space. Thus, Brandeis is forced to limit parking and housing, allot less space to those who are already guaranteed a place to live and encourage us to utilize the virtue of patience in the dining halls. They really don’t have an alternative. For the most part, it’s manageable—a little frustrating, but there isn’t much you can do.

There is only one place where the increasing number of students does bother me: the classroom. Brandeis is one of the smallest research universities in the country. A big perk of attending a school that doesn’t have an outrageous population is the small class sizes. On more than one occasion, smaller classes have proven to be a better learning experience. Students get to know their teachers and vice versa. Intimate class discussions encourage students to actively participate. Nevertheless, like everything else, Brandeis has to find a place to put all these people.

Formerly medium-sized classes are now becoming large lectures. Students are getting lost in the crowd, and the possibility of student involvement decreases. The quality of education is pretty high up on the list of factors when it comes to choosing a college, and smaller class sizes are one of the many things that attract students to Brandeis. Pushing the boundaries of how big a class should be is taking something away from its students.

Unfortunately, altering a class size is sometimes not an option. Classes like the third-level foreign languages need to remain small in order to have their intended impact. These are required classes, and they are extraordinarily competitive to get into. Some language departments have begun to offer more time slots in order to compensate. Nonetheless, it still does not feel fair. Students’ primary purpose for being here is their education. Now, with an increasing student body, there is added stress (and even an obstacle) to get into their chosen classes. Students have to line up at 8 a.m., if not earlier, to get special consent codes; others have to contact professors a month in advance. More people means more complications, especially on a campus with spatial restrictions. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, and the school is forced to adjust. Nevertheless, Brandeis can’t keep this up. Sooner or later, these issues will get out of hand and need resolving. Don’t get me wrong. I undeniably support people getting a quality education. I even support them getting a quality education here at Brandeis, but I don’t want the rise in class size to compromise my education.