Saint Lawrence University has just become a breeding ground for dysfunction. This past Monday at 7am, students anxiously waited for class registration for the Spring semester to become available online. However, the university’s registration system, APR 2.0 (Academic Planning and Registration), crashed immediately due to the surplus of activity on the website.
As a freshman, I was attempting to sign up for a First Year Seminar class. There were only a limited number of seats available for my top choice, so I tried to ensure that I would be among the first to sign up. Rather unwisely, I had structured my entire schedule upon getting this class. APR indicated there were seats available, but when I tried to register an error message appeared saying that the class was full. After an hour of trying to sign up and venting to my roommate, I accepted defeat and tried to register for my second choice. I fared no better with this attempt, and my frustration with the system eventually passed a threshold where I was just trying to sign up for any FYS class that wasn’t full. Eventually, I received an email that I had successfully signed up for a class and called it a day. I had no idea what class I was registered for, but I was unwilling to further battle this system.
My story is one of the many of people who could not register for a class. Due to the system failure, Academic Affairs announced that all current class registrations would be eliminated in order to accommodate students who were disadvantaged by technical issues. Despite assurances that IT would resolve the issue, the problem with APR carried over into Tuesday. This is not an issue only plaguing students. Teachers who sat with students for hours, trying to get them into a class and answering distressed emails, have now wasted their time. While APR 2.0 has been used at Saint Lawrence for many years, I believe that the system should be temporarily changed to IT manually registering students’ classes in order to foster equal opportunity among students and to avoid any more technical glitches.
Even though over half the student body was unable to sign up for a class Tuesday morning, Academic Affairs and IT decided to uphold APR registrations for that day. While this may come as a relief for people who managed to get into the class they wanted, students who didn’t, due to APR’s inept system, deserve justice. A student who got into the class they wanted on Monday might not have gotten into that same class again on Tuesday. Furthermore, the APR 2.0 system functioned effectively at random times throughout the day, essentially creating a lottery for students. You had to be lucky enough to sign up during a time when the system was working. APR has made a name for itself regarding its poor service. One of my professors found information that the APR system at Ohio State University, a school with 66,000 students enrolled, crashed after a mere 700 users accessed it. For perspective, this is the size of the current freshmen class. This illustrates the absurdity facing the Saint Lawrence community today and why we cannot dismiss restructuring how students register for classes.
While manually registering students into classes may seem like a tedious exercise, it may be necessary in order to ensure equal opportunity. Students could email their class choices to IT, and IT would then decide who gets put in what class based off each student’s preferences. Upperclassmen would get preference if the class was filled. It’s not a perfect system, but it could stand as a reasonable substitute for the amount of stress and frustration students and teachers face by using APR. In the long run, I would recommend St. Lawrence looking into a system that supports a larger student body or have a schedule where each class registers for courses separately, in order to avoid overloading APR. This issue affects almost everyone on campus in some way. The University should have a system that puts the well-being of the student first, not one that crashes as much as Windows 7.