Section: News

Few psych spots prompt petition

Few psych spots prompt petition

Photo by Cora Markowitz

This semester, course registration psyched some students out.

“I was freaking out,” said Madeline Maldonado ’18, a psychology and Spanish double major, who was initially unable to enroll in any psychology courses, which would have prevented her from being able to study abroad and complete her graduation requirements.

While Maldonado eventually got a spot in a psychology class, she was one of 68 students interested in psychology who signed on to a letter to Provost Joseph Klesner underscoring a concern that too few seats were available in psychology classes to meet campus demand.

During sophomore registration in mid-November, psychology courses filled before many declared majors could enroll in courses required by the department. According to the registrar’s office, psychology was the third most popular major for the Class of 2015, behind English and economics. The psychology department, which has 13 faculty members, expressed need for new faculty in their annual report last year. The department has not yet filed a formal request to create an additional position.

Eliza Abendroth ’18 and Emma McGorray ’18, who are undeclared, wrote the letter and sent it to Klesner on Nov. 30. Though not intended as a petition, 66 other students signed their names to the letter in solidarity.

“It has become clear to us that the number of seats in psychology classes cannot handle the influx of students interested in the subject,” Abendroth and McGorray wrote.

Klesner emailed the pair two days later, thanking them for sharing their concerns and explaining the complicated process of allocating resources for a new faculty position.

While demand for psychology classes has been high, according to Klesner, the Department of Economics has experienced the highest enrollment pressure in recent years. The department has 12 faculty members and is currently searching for a new faculty member. (The Department of English has 30 faculty members.)

Underclassmen, especially sophomores, had difficulty landing spots in intermediate-level classes that had been scooped up by juniors and seniors during registration, according to Dana Krieg, chair of the Department of Psychology.

The psychology department has little ability to expand course offerings, Krieg said, since each faculty member at Kenyon teaches a set number of classes per year and each class can only accommodate a finite number of students. Krieg believes understaffing in the psychology department due to the two professors currently on sabbatical has exacerbated the issue.

Two candidates were considered for a temporary psychology position for the spring term, but one candidate was unavailable and the other was not up to academic standards, according to Klesner and Krieg.

Krieg said the large number of non-majors interested in psychology compounds the problem. In the 300-level Psychology of Language class, 20 of 25 spots were claimed by seniors, 15 of whom are non-majors.

Interest aside, non-majors have also frequently taken courses in the psychology department to fulfill the College’s natural sciences diversification and quantitative reasoning (QR) requirements, according to Krieg. Since this has made it difficult for psych majors to complete major requirements, as of this fall, Intro to Research Methods no longer fulfills the QR requirement.

Klesner believes the department will use the information from their next self-study to determine which area of the curriculum needs additional staffing and how the issue of high enrollment pressure should be addressed before formally requesting a new faculty position.


Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at