Waitlisted students offer to pay classmates to drop courses

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Multiple students on campus have offered to pay their classmates to drop out of classes they are waitlisted for, raising concerns about over-enrollment and advising.

Campus sophomore David Wang reposted a screenshot on the Overheard at UC Berkeley Facebook page showing a post by a Haas senior in their final semester before going abroad offering to pay $100 to the first five students to drop UGBA 102B, “Introduction to  Managerial Accounting.” The student in question needed the class to graduate, and claimed that the “advising office was no help, so I’m taking matters into my own hands.”

Wang said in an email that in this student’s situation it would have made sense for advisers to make an exception for the senior since their graduation status was in jeopardy.

“I do not blame the students for paying his/her classmate to get in the class — I would do the same in that situation,” Wang said in an email.

A similar post popped up on a bCourses discussion page for Global 173, “International Human Rights.” The student who posted the request, campus senior Diego Pena, was inspired by the Facebook post. He announced that he would also be paying the first five people to drop the class $100 each and said in the post that he had “nothing to lose.”

Pena, a physics major, explained in an email that it is his final semester at UC Berkeley and he needs the class for a breadth requirement.

“I thought paying a few hundred dollars was way more convenient than not graduating and having to take classes at community college again next semester,” Pena said in an email. “I’m in L&S and have already maxed out my units so they won’t allow me to take more classes.”

He also said so far, two out of the five people he would need to accept his offer have reached out to him expressing their interest.

“I have great sympathy for students who have to struggle with the waitlist system,” said Darren Zook, the professor for Global 173, in an email. 

He explained how the waitlist system is created by a “combination of over-enrollment and under-funding.”

Over-enrollment has been an issue in other departments on campus, notably in the computer science department, where enrollment for CS 61A hit nearly 2,000 for the fall semester.

CS 61A professor John DeNero explained in an email how the department has “worked hard to create as much capacity in our popular courses as we can, given the limited faculty size and other resources on campus.”

Zook speculated upon reasons for over-enrollment, saying in his email that the number of students allowed into a class may be based on how many GSIs a department can afford for the course rather than how many students can fit into the classroom.

Pena said in his email he understands that “a line has to be drawn somewhere in the size of a class.” He added he has trouble understanding, however, why large courses cannot add five or 10 more spaces.

“I believe there should be a better way for waitlisted students to communicate with the department in order to figure something out so that students don’t have to deal with what I’m going through,” Pena said in an email.

Marlena Tavernier-Fine is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MarlenaTF_DC.