The Georgetown University Student Association senate approved a resolution to hold a campus-wide referendum to gauge student opinions on changes to the course registration procedure in a vote to be held digitally during the GUSA executive elections Feb. 18.
Approved on Jan. 24, the resolution authorizes the GUSA Election Commission to place the following question on the ballot during the ongoing election cycle: “Would you rather keep pre-registration or switch to live registration?” The approved responses are “keep pre-registration,” “switch to live registration” and “no preference.”
The move follows the announcement by former Registrar John Q. Pierce at a GUSA town hall in December that the university was considering upgrading its registration software to the Banner 9 system that uses live registration.
According to GUSA Senator for the LXR district Michael Fiedorowicz (COL ’18), one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, the goal of the referendum is to quantify student views on a possible move to live registration next year.
“We knew that the administration was considering a switch in the registration system so we wanted to be certain of student opinion on the issue,” Fiedorowicz said. “This was the right time for the referendum because the current registrar has stepped down and his replacement will be coming in over the summer, and we’ll be ready to tell them what students think about this.”
According to GUSA Election Commissioner Grady Willard (SFS ’18), the idea for a referendum on course registration originated at the GUSA town hall in December.
“He said that the program that Georgetown uses for its registration is upgrading, and that they are trying to figure what they want to do over the next two years,” Willard said.
One possibility would be to transition to live registration, which would stagger entry to courses by class year and leave courses open in a first-come, first-serve manner within the time given to register. Seats would be reserved in specific classes for majors and underclassmen.
According to Fiedorowicz, live registration would also create specific class sections based on projections of interests that would come from four-year degree plans students previously determined before registering.
The alternative is to keep the preregistration system. Under the current model, course registration staggers distribution of who gets their classes first by class year and major. Upperclassmen who have declared majors in a certain field get their first class first, followed by senior and junior non-majors down to freshmen. The deans are able to adjust class sizes based on preliminary interest.
In an article in The Hoya (“University Considers Live Registration,” Dec. 8, 2015), Pierce said he believed live registration could be a better solution.
“We think the [Banner 9] registration process might be actually better. It would facilitate the mobile app, and if we went to cloud computing where we didn’t have to invest so much money in it … it would cost less to maintain it and thus keep tuition dollars down,” Pierce said.
According to members of the GUSA senate, both models have advantages.
“I personally believe that there are more positives to pre-registration, because students are able to take their time and carefully craft their classes to meet their needs,” GUSA Senator for Alumni Square & Nevils Roopa Mulpuri (SFS ’18) and the second co-sponsor of the referendum resolution said. “However, live registration does provide instant feedback and speeds up the lengthy process considerably.”
GUSA Senator for the Village A district Samantha Granville (COL ’17) said that her previous experience with live registration makes the proposed switch less daunting.
“The school I transferred from had live registration, so for me, it is not that scary,” she said. “We will still have plenty of time to check out the schedule of classes before we have to decide what we want.”
Granville said she also believes the live registration process would alleviate the prolonged waiting times in the current system.
“I like live registration because I know immediately what classes will be available when I sign up and can watch movement in classes on my own time rather than waiting to see what is open with pre-registration,” she said. “The process is also a lot quicker and not dragged out for six weeks.”
GUSA President Joe Luther (COL ’16) said pre-registration has more benefits for students than live registration.
“Personally, I think pre-registration has more to offer students. I can see the appeal of live registration, but I think there is a lot that can be lost in the chaos of live registration,” Luther said. “I understand that there are some financial hurdles to the preregistration model, but I do think that it’s a worthy investment.”
Both GUSA executive tickets believe that student interests should be placed first.
According to Speaker of the Senate Enushe Khan (MSB ’17), a GUSA presidential candidate, Georgetown’s use of pre-registration is fairer than live registration.
“A lot of other schools have live registration where everyone logs on at the same time,” she said. “It’s a first-come, first-serve scramble, which is not as fair of a system.”
A.J. Serlemitsos (COL ’17), GUSA vice presidential candidate, said he hopes that the results of the referendum will facilitate discussion with university administrators.
“Anything that helps students get better matched with the classes they want to take is something that we support,” he said. “And if the university believes that they have found the solution here, we would work with them to make the process as simple as possible for all students.”
The Intellectual Life Committee of the Senate will be leading a two-week information campaign until the Executive Election.
Mulpuri stressed the importance that students vote in the referendum.
“It’s a complex issue that I highly encourage everyone to become educated about and to cast their vote in the referendum on February 18th. We, as GUSA senators, have a responsibility to advocate for the students on this topic, whatever it may turn out to be,” Mulpuri said.
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