Prioritizing priority registration

It’s 6:55 a.m. when sophomore Bayan Suleiman rolls out of bed and sits in front of her computer on the morning of her scheduled class registration.She types in her CRN numbers and watches the clock intently until it turns the magical time: 7 a.m. She clicks submit only to find that she did not get into of her desired classes.”I don’t think priority registration is fair,” Suleiman said. “I feel like having it placed as a hierarchy by grade is a good enough priority.”The three main groups who are eligible for priority registration, in decreasing order, are the Honors College students, ACCESS students and athletes, Registrar Keith Williams said,.”When I got here in 2001, about 20 percent of students had priority,” he said. “The number is now 24 percent. The thing that has changed [since 2001] is the growth of the Honors College.”This begs the question why only certain groups receive priority registration.”It’s not that they might have a hard time building a schedule; it’s so that they can be available at the times that they need to work,” Williams said. “Populations of students that have additional constraints on building schedules have been given priority.”He said the other student populations who receive priority registration — AdvoCats and members of UVM Rescue — are so minimal that they do not have much of an impact on the registration process.”[Athletes] tend to get the most press,” Williams said. “No sport is tidy enough that it’s just a fall sport or a spring sport anymore. At this level, you’re always practicing. The athletic facilities here aren’t quite as large or as modern as other schools our size, even in our conference, so it’s more difficult for teams to schedule practices.”Sophomore Alex Haller, a public communications major, said he thinks it’s ridiculous that almost a quarter of the school is eligible for priority registration.”Twenty-four percent is a huge number of people to get to register early,” he said.Suleiman said her major creates registration problems.”It is extremely hard to get into some classes, especially as a science major,” she said. “Classes and labs fill up in the first few minutes of registration, leaving little to nothing for a lot of unregistered students to sign up for.”Dwight Matthews, chairperson of the chemistry department, said students with lab science majors all tend to make the same mistake.”The key to all the chemistry courses and all the lab science courses is finding a lab time that also works,” he said. “They need to structure their schedules around those labs first.”Haller was enrolled in the Honors College his first year at UVM, but decided to disenroll his sophomore year.”When I was in the Honors College, priority registration was obviously a benefit,” he said. “But now that I am no longer in the Honors College and am just a regular sophomore, it bothers me how certain students get priority over others.”Honors College students receive priority due to legal reasons, Williams said.”The National Honors College Association actually has it in its basic bylaws outlined of what an honors college is that, typically, these students would have priority,” he said. “So [the Honors College] is the only group that isn’t really about building the times. I think that is very clearly a prestige thing of being in the Honors College.”Suleiman, however, disagrees with William’s reasoning.”Allowing freshmen to register before seniors just because they are priority is not even a logical thing to do because the senior may need a certain class in order to graduate, which they may not be able to get because it may get filled up by the priority registration students,” Suleiman said. “I definitely do not think it is fair for the Honors College students to be able to register before me.”Williams said that the growing student population of the University, including the Honors College, is a large factor.”It’s been growing every year,” he said. “We didn’t have any Honors College students, and then all of a sudden, there’s this school of 400, 500, 600 people.”Because of the increasing number of students, Suleiman said she has problems with the registration system crashing.”The system crashes when too many students are on it, so by the time you sign back on to continue registration, most of the classes you need, if not all, are filled up, and you’re left with choosing between classes you don’t really want or need,” she said.Williams said that the student government has been trying to encourage the administration to reexamine their reasons for giving certain students priority.”The student government has been talking to [the Registrar’s office] about priority registration concerns for about two years,” he said.Suleiman said she thinks that the rules should change.”The main thing that needs to change is who gets priority registration and why,” she said. “I don’t think anyone should have it other than the graduate students because the rest of us are undergraduate students and pay the same tuition.”