Critics of the campus see the Group of 88 as a threat to learning—even as [Lee] Baker notes that the faculty members under attack attract large enrollments (including athletes) and earn positive evaluations from students.---Robert Bliwise, Duke Magazine
Many reasons exist why college courses have large enrollments beyond the quality of instruction. An introductory course required for the major will always enroll well, regardless of the instructor. The topic—i.e., the modern civil rights movement—could be intrinsically interesting. A course might have an extremely attractive time slot, or the professor might be a very easy grader.
On the flip side, a low enrollment doesn’t necessarily mean a low-quality course. The class could be very difficult, or meet at an inconvenient time, or require too many prerequisites.
Baker’s suggestion, however, that the Group of 88 attract large enrollments appears to be the latest defense of the Group contradicted by the record. Over the last two academic years, some Group members—including Baker himself—have consistently attracted robust enrollments. Other such figures include Pete Sigal, Mark Anthony Neal, and David Wong. (Class evaluations are not publicly available; there is no way to independently verify Baker’s claim about them.)
Yet many other Group members have attracted low or in some cases very low enrollments. This pattern comes despite the fact that of the Group members who are full-time faculty, almost none have taught more than two undergraduate courses annually in either 2005-2006 or 2006-2007. So it cannot be said that they oversaturated their potential market.
Perhaps if more Group members had more regular contact with more undergraduates, they would have been less likely last spring to advance their ideological, pedagogical, and personal agendas at the expense of their own institution’s students.
Enrollment figures are below, with the number of students who took the course listed first, followed by the number of available slots in the class.
Wahneema Lubiano and Jocelyn Olcott (Introduction to Critical U.S. Studies): 7 of 40 [Based on what people heard of Lubiano’s lecturing style during the Group of 88 Rehab Tour, it’s little surprise that her course failed to enroll well.]
Diane Nelson (Theories of Cultural Anthropology): 9 of 17
Maurice Wallace (African-American Literature): 16 of 40 [It would seem that most Duke students do not respond to the pedagogical approach preferred by Wallace: “I have a responsibility to all of my students—every single one of them—to disabuse them of all of the national, racial, middle-class, gender and sexual myths they’ve been taught to comfort or flatter themselves and, of course, the people who, perhaps unknowingly, miseducated them.”
Kim Curtis (Ecological Crisis and Political Theory): 18 of 30 [The class explores the “ethical, political, economic, aesthetic, social, and technological approaches to contemporary ecological crisis,” though how Kim Curtis, of all people, can teach others about “ethics” is not clear.]
Stanley Abe (Chinese Buddhist Art): 16 of 40
Alice Kaplan (French Literature in the Modern Era): 21 of 35
Antonio Viego (Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies): 4 of 15
Michaelene Crichlow (Caribbean Migration): 8 of 16
Raymond Gavins (African-American History, I): 9 of 40
Paula McClain (Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics): 15 of 30
Leo Ching (East Asian Cultural Studies): 14 of 20
Kathy Rudy (Ethics, Rights, and the Subject): 14 of 30 [As with Kim Curtis, imagine the irony of a Group of 88 member teaching “ethics.”]
miriam cooke (Topics in Arabic): 6 of 15 [cooke does not capitalize either her first or last names.]
Jocelyn Olcott (Introduction to Contemporary
Michaelene Crichlow (Popular Culture in the
Sally Deutsch (US History, 1870-1940): 26 of 40. [Lacrosse players, therefore, formed nearly 20 percent of her enrollment for the class in which Deutsch deviated from the syllabus to deliver a guilt-presuming lecture when the charges went public.]
Wahneema Lubiano (Social Facts and Narrative: “Story telling as it establishes, relies on, and transforms socially recognized categories of [naturally] gender, class, race, sexual orientation, and region): 13 of 18
Stanley Abe (Art History & Representation): 3 of 15
Susan Thorne (Modern
Paula McClain (Seminar in Government and Politics): 7 of 15
Charlotte Pierce-Baker (Trauma, Violence, and Women Writing): 11 of 18
Diane Nelson (Fieldwork Methods): 18 of 30
Jan Radway (History of Literary Institutions): 7 of 15
Kathy Rudy (Feminism and Reproductive Ethics): 26 of 50
Raymond Gavins (African-American History): 17 of 40
Bayo Holsey (African Modernities): 8 of 15
Antonio Viego (Cuban
The enrollment figures do not reveal how many students in each class were student-athletes. Baker’s suggestion, however, that student-athletes flock to the Group’s classes (mirroring an earlier claim by Charlie Piot) doesn’t pass the laugh test.
How many of the seven students who enrolled in the Lubiano/Olcott spring 2007 offering were student-athletes? How many student-athletes would want to take classes from Karla Holloway, knowing that she impugned the character of dozens of female athletes at Duke?
In short, despite Baker’s hints, there is no evidence that Duke students are beating down the doors to take classes from most of the Group; or that Group members are somehow better teachers than other Duke professors.