Students who are thinking about becoming Law & Society majors should take the motto “Carpe Diem” to heart, because the program may not be accepting new students starting next fall.
The Law & Society Program, created in 1972, may place a moratorium on new major declarations for Fall 2006 in order to shrink its unusually high ratio of 750 students to just five faculty members, said Kathleen Moore, Law & Society program chair. Alan J. Wyner, dean of the College of Letters and Sciences, said a final decision regarding the moratorium will be made before the end of the quarter. If it goes into effect, all incoming freshman, transfer students and current students in other departments would be barred from declaring Law & Society as a major, Moore said.
Moore said the restriction does not affect current students in the major, pre-major or students that wish to declare Law & Society this year.
“The proposal that’s been submitted would have the moratorium start in Fall ’06 for incoming students and for any students already here that are not yet part of the Law & Society major,” Wyner said.
Moore said the Law & Society Program implemented a similar moratorium about ten years ago, which lasted one year. During this period, she said, the program created pre-major requirements, such as Law & Society 1 and Law & Society 2, to help limit upper division class sizes. She said students must maintain a 2.7 grade point average for all pre-major classes in order to declare the major.
The new moratorium was proposed last spring, Moore said, because not enough resources were available to accommodate the growing number of students interested in the major. Currently, upper division classes can have as many as 80 to 150 students, she said, but the program would like to limit the number to 80 students.
In comparison to the Law & Society Program, the Political Science Dept. has a ratio of 800 students to 20 faculty members, while the Women’s Studies Dept. has 50 students to nine faculty members, Moore said. She said the Law & Society Program cannot afford to hire any new faculty members to change the current ratio because it is not receiving enough funding from the university to do so.
“There is no money from the administration to hire new faculty,” Moore said.
If the moratorium is approved, Moore said, class sizes for pre-major classes would shrink. However, she said no significant changes would be seen for the next two or three years, after which the number of Law & Society majors would be brought down to 500 students from the current 750.
Moore said financial resources that would have been used in pre-major classes could then be shifted toward upper division classes.
“We would be able to use some of the teaching assistant money to apply to upper division classes,” Moore said. “There will be better access to professors and more time to engage with students.”
Moore said the Law & Society Program recently announced the moratorium on its webpage so prospective students applying for Fall 2006 could decide whether or not to attend UCSB based on the availability of the major.
“It is easier to announce that it’s going to close before the application deadline,” Moore said. “It’s easier to list the moratorium rather than reverse it.”