In the summer before the fall semester started and enrollment began, I emailed the Registrar’s Office (RO), begging them to reschedule a certain class that clashed with the class timings for another class that complemented the former. I asked them that if it wasn’t possible to reschedule the classes, the RO should at least come up with a mechanism to avoid courses that are complementary but not necessarily of the same discipline from clashing. Now this is an important thing for an HSS student, since the diverse courses up for offer at our school make it more difficult to develop a specific area of interest, which ideally would make for better graduate school prospects and a more coherent transcript. I’d already made the effort of emailing both of the relevant instructors, asking them to try to get their course’s schedule changed. They responded with sympathetic emails explaining that they could do little about the timings that the RO had assigned for them – instructors don’t get to decide what time slots are allotted to them for an entire semester.
Surprisingly, instructors can do little to change their classroom capacities or their assigned course schedules. Much like students, instructors aren’t very excited about teaching classes at 8 AM either. Even course titles are an issue thanks to the RO – although instructors have lodged complaints, their titles have not changed a month into the semester, and it is very likely that courses will continue to have redundant titles like “Violence and Conflict” (it’s actually “Violence and Nationalism”), or something like the grand-sounding “19th Century European Fiction” (replace “European” with “Russian” for correct title) that primarily focuses on the works of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It should be noted that the RO-assigned title will be on our transcripts too.
Do departments as a whole have a say in deciding when their classes will take place? This is what the RO claims, for my email was responded with a one-line sentence asking me to talk to my relevant department. In the original course fall semester course schedule, the two 200-level courses being offered for Sociology were clashing with each other. How is it that a university with four schools and I-am-not-sure-how-many-but-definitely-dozens of auditoriums not have the space to conduct the only two sophomore-level Sociology courses being offered separately? Although student emails eventually made the RO pity our plight and one of the classes was rescheduled, what sort of sadistic planning went into the original decision? Indeed, assuming that there is any planning at all when it comes to course scheduling, for this particular example is not the only case of the RO creating bizarre course clashes for just this semester (“Western Canon” and “Russian Fiction” originally clashed too).
Even right now, two of the three 300-level History courses currently being offered take place back-to-back, which also makes no sense: the History program at LUMS has the least amount of students, and accommodating these students without putting them through 4 hours of lecturing must have been possible. But it doesn’t seem like the RO really cares about HSS (except for maybe Economics?), and asking them to come up with a mechanism that involves them going through course outlines and then deciding what schedules are going to be forced on the rest of LUMS is a ridiculous idea. It also sounds very time-consuming, but do think: is this not the RO’s responsibility? The RO has incredibly high expectations out of all of us students, for one, expecting all of us to decide whether we have an interest in certain classes within two sessions. LUMS loves the idea of emulating American universities, but how is it that, unlike in the States, we get to have only one week (which translates into two classes) to decide whether a certain course is worth adding or not? (The drop period is thankfully a little longer.) We are apparently smart enough to judge a course within a week, but not smart enough to decide when we should be taking our university cores (which the almighty RO force-enrolls us into).
I am sure we too have the right to have high expectations out of the Registrar’s Office, and until HSS students (and ideally all of LUMS) start recognizing that RO should be not be let off on its indifference to student and instructor problems, we are all going to end up in Iqra University for our Masters degrees.