It is not what is “bugging me” about my major that is of importance, but rather the lack of my major that is frustrating me beyond belief. I transferred to UCSB from a small liberal arts college where I was majoring in the equivalent of law & society. However, when I started at UCSB in Winter 2007, the Law & Society Dept. told me “tough luck,” and I couldn’t get into the major since the department was closed indefinitely.
The undergraduate advisor in the department told me, “Wow, that really is too bad. If you had been here in the fall, you could have just squeezed in.”
I thought to myself: How can this be happening? I pay the same tuition and fees as all other students, and they get to choose whatever major they please from the wide variety the university offers. But because I transferred a quarter “too late,” many others and I are excluded. Unbelievable.
Closing the law & society major has a tremendous impact on a large number of students who wish to study law and legal issues as undergraduates. It puts students who wish to pursue careers in legal areas at a disadvantage. Those who arrived before Winter 2007 can advance their studies in this area, while the rest of us cannot. California taxpayers subsidize all UC students’ educations and should not favor some over others. But you know what the most frustrating part is? It seems not one single administrator cares about this unacceptable problem.
I’ve approached the chair of the Law & Society Dept., who did not appear to be concerned with the crisis her department created. The chair told me her hands were tied, and there was nothing she or anyone could do. She suggested that, since I’m interested in law & society, I should just register for the classes as a non-major, after each quarter has started. But forced to pursue another major, it is difficult to take law & society courses as electives. Isn’t there a larger principle that needs to be addressed here? What exactly is going on with the Law & Society Dept.?
So here’s the real deal. As a concerned student, I felt it was my duty to investigate. And here’s what I have found from various reliable sources around campus.
The Law & Society Dept. requested money from the administration for a few more professors to handle their overcrowded major. However, the Law & Society Dept. chose candidates who had either a background or academic focus in Middle Eastern legal studies and the like. Because this subject matter already comprises the academic interest of an overwhelming majority of professors in the Law & Society Dept., the administration understandably refused funding to the department, telling them to find professors with a broader range of academic interests.
Thus, in a temper tantrum, the Law & Society Dept. locked its doors and apparently threw away the key. It was as if they said, “Fine, if you won’t give us what we want, we won’t teach any more students!” And now I, along with any student who began studying at UCSB after Winter 2007, cannot pursue a major in an academic area that interests me and will prepare me for the career I wish to work in.
While I support the Law & Society Dept.’s belief that they should have a freedom to decide whom they hire, I am incredulous that no one seems to be taking into account the awful effect this childish behavior has on the students of the university. Everyone seems to be pointing fingers at everyone else, screaming it is “out of [their] hands.” Why won’t anyone take responsibility?
Let’s be realistic. UCSB is already one of the biggest jokes in the UC system for our party school reputation and lack of academic focus and integrity. Keeping the Law & Society Dept. closed will not only continue to hurt the standing of UCSB, but will more importantly discriminate against those students who wish to pursue majors in law & society when most students in the UC system get to major in areas they choose. How ironic that a department focused on legal issues is guilty of discrimination!