A popular professor at Yale moved his course to a smaller auditorium. He made this decision because the smaller facility has no Wi-Fi and the students will not be distracting by Internet browsing and texting. As a result, only 250 (as opposed to the regular 500) students managed to enroll.
Immediately, outrage ensued. Here is an example of what the opponents of Professor’s Nemerov are saying:
As an alum with a child currently at Yale, this is very disappointing news. One of the hallmarks of the Yale College academic experience used to be free access to almost any class. Courses offered in lecture format were never capped; only college seminars had limited enrollments, and these were advertised in the Blue Book in advance. In short, one was guaranteed a spot in any lecture class that struck one’s interest. . . A grounding in Art History is essential to the formation of a well educated person. By all accounts Prof. Nemerov is an inspiring lecturer; I fear that, in seeking the comforts and superior technology of the YUAG auditorium, he is forsaking the opportunity to shape hundreds of minds over the years. I hope that he will reconsider.
The discussion of this story has its participants split into the “Wi-Fi good / prof bad” versus “”Wi-Fi bad / prof good” camps. Now, notice that the easiest solution to the entire issue is not even occurring to anybody. Two thirds of all undergrad courses at Yale are not taught by professors. They are taught by contingent faculty and graduate students. As a result, students jump at every opportunity to see an actual specialist with an actual PhD diploma and a record of publications in the field. This is how classes end up with such huge enrollments.
Why not just start hiring more people into tenure-track positions, you’ll ask. I’m asking myself the same question. Sadly, Yale’s administration is not.