A decision made last year barring aspiring law & society students from the major begins this fall and will run indefinitely.
Currently, the law & society major has about 750 students in it and five faculty members. The student-faculty ratio was deemed unacceptable, and therefore a moratorium has been placed until the situation can be remedied.
“The quality of education, in the faculty’s opinion, was not good enough,” said Lisa Hajjar, program chair of the Law & Society Dept. “While we could teach good or interesting courses, there was no face-to-face contact.”
While the moratorium bars all freshmen and transfer students from declaring law & society as a major, current law & society majors will not be affected.
“We’re hoping it will be about two years; that’s the assumption,” Hajjar said. “The goal is to bring down the number of majors. Within a couple of years, we want to bring it down to something reasonable to the number of faculty we have.”
Alan J. Wyner, dean of the College of Letters and Science, said the final decision to end the moratorium will be made by the Undergraduate Council Committee of the Academic Senate and by the Executive Committee of the College of Letters and Science.
“The moratorium was designed to give everyone some breathing room to decide what comes next,” Wyner said.
According to Hajjar, the student-to-teacher ratio of the Law & Society Dept. is more than twice that of the University of California average.
“What is problematic is that the resources of the university are not following the students,” Hajjar said. “If they were… [large] departments would have numbers proportionate to that size so that the student-to-faculty ratio would be comparable to other majors.”
Hajjar said benefits of the moratorium include giving students currently in the major smaller classes and more intimate relationships with their professors.
“Law & society and global studies are the worst end of a very deep problem in the UC,” Hajjar said. “There simply are not enough resources to adequately fund the quality of education that was once the hallmark of the UC system.”
Despite the moratorium, she said the classes Law & Society 1 and 2 will continue to be offered to everyone at the university.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to open some of our classes up to students in other departments and we can then make our teaching available to students in other majors,” Hajjar said.