Registrar, faculty enforce and revamp registration policies

Michael Schreiber

In a recent e-mail to students, Lawrence registrar Anne Norman announced a number of changes to the course registration process for next year. The changes, which alter rules for overloading and waitlisting classes, are a response to student abuse of the registration process that has led to administrative problems for faculty and registration difficulties for students, she said.
According to Norman, the changes to the registration process need to be made because an epidemic of student over-registration has led to false student counts in particular classes. In the extreme, “one student had registered for 78 units in the term. Another student had taken a seat in every section of a class, in every term that it was offered,” said Norman.
“The problem has been developing for a fairly long time, and lately it’s been growing more quickly” said Norman. “The Lawrence student body grew quickly … [and] it had been difficult for students to find classes. That fear became ingrained in the student culture, though the problem no longer exists.”
Norman added that the problem developed largely as a result of the switch to computer course registration, a change that removed a number of controls advisors had exerted on student registration in the past.
To prevent students from abusing the system, Norman said, in many cases, it was necessary only to enforce rules that already existed. Whereas before Voyager would allow over-registration without proper approval, now students will have to seek advisor approval before overloading, as originally intended. Norman characterized this change as “encouraging conversations between students and advisors that haven’t been taking place.”
Under the new procedure, students will be able to register for only 23 units per term during advance registration. Waitlisting will be allowed only one term in advance, and overloading will not be allowed before the beginning of the term and will require advisor approval.
These changes were approved by the faculty after a long period of consideration by the faculty committee on instruction. The committee, chaired by Associate Dean of the Faculty Nancy Wall, consisted of a number of faculty members in addition to two student representatives, seniors Robert Furlong and James Duncan-Welke.
Furlong, who participated in many of the discussions about the changes that took place first term, said that he felt the statistics on the impact of over-registration were compelling.
“The changes, from my perspective as a student, seemed logical and fair to the rest of the students,” Furlong said. Furlong described the changes as “administrative” and said that they “won’t affect your learning.”
Wall explained the effect of over-registration on faculty. She said that often “extra class sections would be opened up and adjunct faculty members would be hired, only for half of the students not to show up on the first day of classes, making these faculty unneeded. This is a waste of our resources.”
Norman, Furlong and Wall were all quick to point out that no particular group of students was singled out to be negatively impacted by the changes and that the decision-making process was open to criticism from faculty and students.
According to Wall, Conservatory students, who must often overload, will remain fairly unaffected by the changes. Because Con students register for their ensemble and private lesson units during the beginning of the term, they will be allowed to continue as before.
Among Norman, Furlong and Wall, there was a consensus that students will be able to get all of the classes they need with a little bit of planning ahead. Norman added that students benefit from having a backup plan, but jokingly said that students will no longer need to “over-interpret and take this advice to an extreme” during the registration process.