Canceled classes impact students and faculty

Editor’s Note: The printed version of this story included a statement from a student regarding a canceled math class. This was a special topics class (MATH-296-01) that was initially canceled but reinstated. However, the class is not a requirement for graduation at MCCC as stated in the article. The student was using the credits from the math class to further his degree at another institution.

One aspect of low enrollment hits students harder than the rest. That aspect is canceled classes.

“(In) Winter 2020, 60 class sections were canceled out of 435 class sections offered,” Vice President of Instruction Grace Yackee said in an email.

Professor Lori Jo Couch said cancellations can negatively impact students, especially if a course they need to graduate is unable to run.

“It clearly affects their schedule, it affects the choice of classes they are taking,” Couch said. “It’s problematic for students who are trying to create a schedule.”

Professor Mark Bergmooser described the feelings of students dealing with a canceled class.

“If a class is required for your major and we cancel it, you’re up a creek without a paddle,” Bergmooser said.

Student Emily Wagner said she was surprised at the amount of cancellation slips around campus.

“I walked in the first day and saw all the green cancellation slips on the doors,” Wagner said. “I was worried, because I thought one of the (canceled classes) was my class.”

Although none of her classes were canceled, Wagner said a higher-level math class her friends needed to take to graduate was canceled.

“I think it’s unfair that students are having their ability to graduate impacted,” Wagner said.

A canceled class notice hangs in the L Building. This notice was for a single-day cancellation. However, out of the 435 class sections that MCCC offered this semester, 60 sections were canceled. – Photo by Carla Cohen

Megan Sloan, student, also took note of the many cancellation slips.

“That makes me sad for teachers and students,” Sloan said. “It means we’re not having enough enrollment or enough (money) to fund the education we need.”

Canceled classes are also disappointing for faculty.

Since faculty must teach a certain number of classes in order to be full-time, classes that are canceled at the last minute can create a problem with scheduling.

“Sometimes we (have to) take a class at the last minute,” Couch said.

This also means that faculty must replace their canceled class with a subject they may not be as passionate about, Couch said.

This semester, Couch’s African American Literature class was canceled because of low enrollment.

It is a class that Couch enjoys teaching, and she said many students tell her that class has changed their lives in some way.

“It’s a valuable subject for students to learn,” Couch said. “(Now) students don’t have the opportunity to take it, and I don’t have the opportunity to share it with them.”

According to Yackee, MCCC’s deans typically determine which classes are canceled.

“In some cases, deans contact me for consultation regarding whether or not to cancel a particular class,” Yackee said.

Before canceling a class, multiple factors are considered.

These include if other sections of the same course are offered, if another course could satisfy the same purpose as the canceled course and if students need the class to graduate, Yackee said.

Although there is no minimum number of students needed to run a class, classes with under 10 students require special permission.

“Deans are required to complete paperwork for each class ran under 10 students each semester, specifically describing the reason for running the low enrolled class,” Yackee said.

Classes that get canceled are more often specialized courses instead of general education courses, Bergmooser said. In the Fall 2019 semester, his Nonverbal Communication class was canceled.

“I’ve taught Speech 151 a ton, so if I get the chance to teach Nonverbal, I’m excited about it,” Bergmooser said. “If it’s canceled, I’m like, ‘Aw, shucks.’”

To avoid cancellations, Bergmooser said it is important to pay attention to things such as what time of day a certain class is best attended and to adjust accordingly.

Canceled classes are a downside for students who may miss a class they need to graduate and for faculty who can experience issues with scheduling and may have to switch to teaching a class they aren’t passionate about.