The crashing conudrum continues to raise concerns

On Sept. 2, a crowd of students clustered around a classroom in the Humanities and Social Sciences building hoping to add a women's studies course. With tempers already running high, the stress of trying to add a potentially vital class proved too much, leading to the assault of a Santa Monica College student.

According to SMCPD officer Mark Kessler, a male SMC student struck a female student in the face, warranting his arrest and subsequent charges for "assault on school grounds." Paperwork has been drawn to remove him from classes and the city attorney will determine whether charges will proceed.

This is just an extreme example of the frustration students feel about what is being done to combat the problem. These days, the issue of crashing classes has rarely been more poignant, and the first week of the fall semester exemplified this, with long lines of students hoping to crash classes already full and SMC professors taking an autonomous approach to the problem of crashing.

Some students are critical of the fact that, in this economy, some instructors choose not to fill their classes to capacity. "There's definitely something wrong with that. There are all these people who want to get educated; I think that will stimulate the economy," said Sarah Martin, 20. "We're paying for these classes, but I don't know what we can do about that."

According to Georgia Lorenz, director of Academic Affairs at SMC, the district has no policy regarding the methods in which faculty choose to add students so long as they meet the minimum, and do not exceed the maximum, enrollment number. This number varies depending on the class.

Dr. Tahvildaran-Jesswein, a social-science professor at SMC, states that the real problems start in Sacramento and that class seats are limited because the funds just aren't there.

According to the Los Angeles Times, course sections statewide were reduced by about six percent over the summer, and that 140,000 students were not able to enroll in any classes this year. Tahvildaran-Jesswein makes the point that SMC still offers winter and fall sessions when other colleges have ceased to do so, despite an anticipated $5 million operating deficit for the upcoming year.

But what do the students make of the issue?

Alannah Konno, in her first semester at SMC, was amongst a crowd trying to add a speech course taught by professor Ogata. When asked how she felt about her chances of getting into the class, she said that she had "no idea."

That is because at one point, the total number of students trying to add the course reached nearly 80. At least, that's what Ogata approximates the number to be. He highlighted how classes offered at certain times prove to be more popular amongst those hoping to crash.

"The later the time comes, the more popular the class," said Ogata, "so 12:45 is silly."

Students, like Konno, who try to endear themselves to Ogata's roster, go through a process of attending subsequent classes - even writing papers on why they should get in. Ogata then chooses his students based on their academic needs.

"He tries to, like, make it fair and help other kids out. So I think it's really good," said Konno.

All over campus instructors employ various methods for adding students to their classes. Traditional strategies like drawing a lottery, first-come-first-serve, and having students linger until another drops are common ways.

However, there are now methods, in which crashing students must petition their enrolled peers, or even decide amongst themselves who stay and who go. Some instructors choose to test students' dedication by requiring that they take an exam or write an essay before being added. Of course, there are those who choose to let a "No Adds" sign do all the talking.

Dr.Tahvildaran-Jesswein requires students who want to add his class to purchase their books and meet him on the track to get an add code. He believes that most instructors are sympathetic to the plight of students.

"Across the board, it appears that we faculty have added more students than what we are contracted to," said Tahvildaran-Jesswein.

Meanwhile, instructors like Professor Ogata can empathize with the students but believe that students in turn need to understand the problem from the faculties' perspective.

"Once I think you understand why, and what, the professors are doing, and their philosophy of education, teaching, and learning, then you can understand that they have a right and responsibility to do what they need to do to make that class effective," said Ogata.

Still, Ogata feels that there needs to be a discussion between all parties to clarify the issue of admission policies, how many students can be admitted, and at what point. "It doesn't help our credibility and reputation as an institution to have students who are unhappy," said Ogata.

It is now three weeks into the current semester and 45 students are still hopeful in joining Ogata's class. Konno was not amongst those who got in. "I'm kind of depressed but I'll try again next semester," said Konno. "His class is really good."