Kaplan: Economics majors at disadvantage in overcrowded School of Business

Geneseo’s School of Business bites off more than it can chew. In addition to departments of business and administration and accounting, the self-labeled School of Business houses the college’s economics department. Economics does not belong there for reasons of rationality and sanity––economics is a social science and cannot be fully considered a business discipline.

The School of Business’ most recent annual report revealed that since 2009, the number of economics majors here has increased by a staggering 71 percent. Comparatively, the total undergraduate enrollment has only increased by roughly .02 percent in the same time frame. As an economics major, I hope that the study’s report of a recent boom at Geneseo correlates with the number of students calling for the economics department’s departure from the School of Business.

This sort of arrangement is not entirely uncommon. A small percentage of colleges place their economics programs exclusively in their business schools for a variety of reasons. If economics and business programs can offer equal benefits to one another, then housing an economics department in a business school can make sense. Unfortunately, this is not the case at Geneseo.

The size and requirements of the business administration and accounting majors at Geneseo are massive drains on the economics department’s resources, particularly course offerings. While I cannot speak for the School of Business’ effect on economics professors, there is a clear shortage of elective courses and required course seats offered to economics majors.

Class scarcity is a logical consequence of the business administration and accounting majors’ requirement to complete four specific courses within the economics department. This semester, those four classes account for 15 of 25 class sections the department is offering. This excess of core major requirements in the department’s master schedule exhausts department resources that serve business administration and accounting majors––students who outnumber their economics counterparts five to one.

Economics majors feel this course strain at registration. While they enjoy a wealth of seats in the required classes they share with business administration and accounting majors, economics students face difficulties finding seats to fulfill basic requirements unshared with the rest of the School of Business. Upon completion of said requirements, majors must choose at least five additional electives. When these five classes must be selected from a list of only four major-wide options, however, these additional electives are really nothing more than additional requirements.

An autonomous economics department that acts independent of greater School of Business would ideally be able to make decisions regarding course offerings that cater to its majors. The key word, however, is “ideally.”

Such a change will not necessarily give more freedom to economics majors at registration–––business administration and accounting requirements will not magically disappear from the School of Business. It’s also entirely possible that such a move will deliver budgetary blows to the economics department, when it is no longer party to a department serving 15 percent of Geneseo undergrads.

My hopes for the economics department’s withdrawal from the School of Business are ones based in logistical conjecture. Nevertheless, should the trend in economics major growth continue, there is no question that an increasing number of Geneseo students will enter an economics major where they find themselves confined by the demands of the School of Business.

Hopefully, this growing number of economics majors will generate discourse among administrators that will question the place of economics at Geneseo and, ultimately, offer it a new position in the best interest of economics students.