Quantity over quality in our classrooms – Editorial


The Editorial Board

The Editorial Board is old enough to remember a different La Salle — the La Salle most know for its small class sizes and personable professors. It’s what was marketed to us. It’s the mission that was ingrained in us. We are a teaching university, and what sets us apart is our individualized attention to students. Just a few years ago, this was the case. Is the same true today?

The collective experiences of the Editorial Board tell us that this is not the case. What were once intimate class settings are now full Zoom rooms. Professors who were once teaching three classes are now teaching four. Administrative assistants are gone. Adjuncts are scarce. These things add up, and the sum is a reduced quality of education. 

Last week, the Editorial Board brought to your attention the high administrative costs at the University; this week, the Editorial Board shows you one of the side effects of disproportionate spending. While the administration of the University may be growing, the faculty is shrinking. As stated in last week’s editorial, since the pandemic, the University has laid off 53 employees and eliminated 51 vacant staff positions; this decision has translated into greater responsibility for faculty. 

When more responsibility falls on the shoulders of professors, the student’s education suffers. Firstly, professors are unable to dedicate as much time to individual students. In a Zoom class nearing 30, naturally the professor will be unable to engage every student or even notice their presence in the online classroom. The student, on the other hand, suffers from a diffusion of responsibility in a larger classroom. Because of the large class size, there lacks a necessary pressure for students to even pay attention to the class material; if he doesn’t answer the question, someone else will (until no one does). In a smaller class, there is inherently more of a balance, and students are encouraged to take more ownership of the class. Furthermore, with a larger course load, professors are unable to give the same attention to and offer the same support for their courses, because they have to plan twice the content for the courses they are now teaching. Furthermore, not only are large classes becoming a norm, but smaller classes are unable to run due to their lack of profitability. The effect of this restriction is that the curriculum becomes more narrow and students are unable to explore their intellectual interests. 

If we cannot stick to the original plan — small class sizes and professors who know us on a personal basis — so be it. Our identity is changing, and in 10 years, La Salle may no longer “that” university. At the same time, we cannot market ourselves as a school that can offer things it does not. La Salle is facing issues, like low enrollment and stagnant alumni donations. The University is overburdened by debt, so much so, it has been downgraded by credit agencies in recent months. Ultimately, the University has taken some hits and the Board of Directors is clearly working to address them but, instead of bandaging a wound, they are amputating a leg. By expending the budget on things like hiring consultants from McKinsey & Co. and hiring administrative executives at high salaries, they are, in effect, cutting off the lifeblood of La Salle University: its professors and the students they teach.

Correction: In the original article, the Collegian reported, “What were once classes of 15 are now pushing 30. Professors who were once teaching one or two classes are now teaching three.” Most professors in the Arts & Sciences and Business schools were teaching three courses and are now teaching four. Also, most courses were capped at 33 students.

Letters, guest columns and opinion pieces will be considered for publication provided that they meet the editorial standards of The Collegian. All letters must be received by the end of the day Monday to be considered for the current issue. Letters can be submitted via email to abbateb2@lasalle.edu. The Collegian reserves the right to condense or edit submissions. Weekly editorials reflect the views of the editorial staff and are not representative of the university or necessarily the views of the rest of the Collegian’s staff. Columns and cartoons reflect the views of the respective writers and artists.

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