Provost responds to student complaints about waitlists


Audrey Tobola-Escaño, Reporter

On Oct. 28, psychology students at CSU Bakersfield were surprised to find themselves either on the waiting list for psychology classes, or that the classes were already closed. They launched a petition to address the availability of upper division classes and brought it to the attention of Vernon B. Harper Jr., interim provost and vice president of academic affairs.

According to Harper, there were  too many students on the waiting list, so the university had to do something. He  started interacting with Anne Duran, chair of the psychology department, and Tanya Boone-Holladay, interim dean, to understand the basis of the problem. It turns out that the psychology department had numerous departures of faculty in the last cycle.

“The university decided to increase their acceptance rate, with no regard to increase the number of faculty to teach students,” Leanna Harp, a senior majoring in psychology said. “It made me angry and panic that I might not be able to take the classes I needed when I was already set to graduate next spring.”

Since Harper learned about the struggle 2 ½ weeks ago , he started working with Duran and Boone-Holladay to open more sections. At the time of this printing, according to Harper, they were already able to create three to four new sections of classes in the upper division. They were also able to move some classes around to create more seats. Harper says that students should expect the new sections to open up within two weeks.

“We are trying to get the [additional sections]  created so we can hire the additional faculty members. To my understanding, they also want to provide some more sections to currently existing faculty members, and we work through all of that,” Harper said.

Even though America Bustos, a psychology major, will be a junior next semester, because she is still a sophomore now, she doesn’t have priority to register in classes. At the time of the interview, she was able to take only one elective psychology course for spring semester.

“I was a little frustrated and stressed because I had already done almost all my general education. I had already finished those, so there was, like, nothing else I could do. I felt like I would be wasting  my time here because there are no psychology classes that were open,” Bustos said.

She added that she was upset at the university at first. “Because I couldn’t enroll in my classes that I wanted. Because if I enroll in classes that I am not excited for or that I’m not interested in, I’m not going to do well. I’m not going to be excited,” Bustos said.

Harp  feels the same about her enrollment. She needs to take specific psychology classes, but only one was being offered, so she had to take it.

“It’s not a subject I’m particularly interested in, but since the other options weren’t available, I didn’t really have a choice,” Harp  said.

She also pointed to another issue in the registration process. “Many of the upper division psychology classes also count as upper division general education courses, so students that aren’t psychology majors or minors can take those classes. But I think psychology students should get priority registration for those classes.”

When asked if the university could have avoided this situation, Harper said “Sure.” He was also unable to tell to The Runner how many students are currently on the waiting list or unable to enroll in psychology classes because they were already closed. Harper wants these students to know that he’s available to speak with them at anytime.

“I want to thank all of the psychology students for their patience. I received a lot of emails from the psychology students, and I’ve been in a lot of dialogue with them. I really enjoyed these interactions, and if they have any questions they can always reach out to me or come directly to the office,” Harper said.