Popular Core Denies Seniors Priority

Seniors lotteried out of Lit and Arts B-11 say they should recieve preference

Usually pampered with the privilege of guaranteed seats in capped Core classes, seniors received a rude awakening last week in the lottery for Literature and Arts B-11, “The Art of Film.”

According to head Teaching Fellow Allyson N. Field, nearly 600 students entered the lottery for the course, which could only accommodate around 200 students.

But many seniors, generally given preference because they will not have the chance to take a course in future years, were turned away from the course.

“Since this is our last year having the opportunity to take the class, we should totally get priority over underclassmen,” wrote Sophia Rangwala ’07, one of many upset seniors, in an e-mail. “Given that I am a senior and needed this class to meet my core requirement, I figured chances of me getting into the class would be in my favor.”

Unfortunately for Rangwala and other seniors, the popular course did not give them the preference they expected.

“Professor Rodowick gives a preference to seniors but chooses to maintain balance of all four classes,” Field wrote in an e-mail. “We could fill the class with 218 seniors.”

According to the course website, 30 freshmen, 50 sophomores, 55 juniors, and 75 seniors were accepted.

“Denying seniors spots for reasons like having a class distribution does not make any sense to me,” Rangwala wrote.

The large number of students shopping the course caused problems for interested students even before the lottery began. Even arriving ten minutes early did not guarantee one a seat, according to students.

As a result, some students said they entered the lottery without ever having sat in on a class. Yao Yu ’07 said she signed up for the course without shopping it because she was not able to physically get into the classroom.

According to Field, there is only one room on campus that is equipped to show 35mm prints, and the room seats 225.

The course lottery took into account class year, the student’s need to satisfy the Literature and Arts B requirement, and a written statement of interest, Field said.

Because the course, an introduction to cinematic style and aesthetics, is a requirement for Visual and Environmental Studies’ Film Studies track, all concentrators who entered the lottery were accepted into the class.

For those who did not make the cut, scheduling woes ensued.

“I had to find a different core soon, and there weren’t many that didn’t conflict with my existing schedule,” Yu said.

—Staff writer Ashton R. Lattimore can be reached at arlattim@fas.harvard.edu.