After experiencing a growing number of problems with registering on HomerConnect, students began an online petition Sunday to urge the administration to make the registration process more fair and efficient.
The HomerConnect system, implemented in 2006, created a one-stop site that allows students to access all of their college information from financial aid to meal plan selection. One of the system’s uses is class registration, but a vocal group of students are beginning to point out problems they are having logging into the program and completing registration during times of heavy traffic.
Junior Sam Patton created a Facebook event calling for students to demand reform of the current registration process by directing them to an online petition. A protest was planned but called off, and the petition, which had 159 signatures as of yesterday, took its place.
Patton said seeing his friends who are underclassmen receive false error messages from HomerConnect inspired him to start the petition.
“I sat Thursday with four sophomore friends and watched them not get into a single class they intended to,” Patton said. “From my anecdotal experience, everyone I know has either had bad experiences or has been absolutely screwed by the system.”
Patton said he hopes the petition will pressure the college to address specific problems with the current registration process. Though Patton canceled the student protest he had planned for Monday, which involved blocking employees from working at the registrar’s office, he said he hopes students who sign the petition can coordinate one at a future date when more students can be involved.
“It was a little hasty to call for a protest right away,” Patton said. “I switched my goal to an online
petition, so once we get a thousand names on this, we’d actually be able to get enough people for a sizable enough demonstration.”
Sophomore Christopher Accardo said he found getting into classes stressful even when he had prepared course registration numbers before registering, as his adviser recommended.
“I got on to Homer at 7 a.m. and typed in all my CRNs,” Accardo said. “About 10 minutes later, it still had not entered them and was frozen. So I tried again and had the same problem. I logged in again, but it just gave me an ‘error’ message for the next hour. It turned out my course selection went through the second time, but it never told me. I was relieved to have my classes, but … it took me an hour to figure out.”
Registrar Brian Scholten said his office hardly received any phone calls or e-mails regarding registration before the petition began. The most common complaint received is over classes being full, an issue Scholten said is in the hands of the course instructors who set class sizes.
“The first three days of registration last week, you could count on one hand the number of calls we’ve gotten,” Scholten said. “What would really help me to know from students who are having problems registering is if they could be more specific about what it is they are encountering.”
Scholten issued an Intercom announcement Friday encouraging students to be specific in their complaints to the Registrar’s office about registering for spring 2011 classes. Scholten said discussions of the need to reform the current registration have only come up recently.
One possibility considered in recent discussions to reform the system is breaking students up into smaller groups with different registration times throughout the week. This would cut down on the number of students trying to access the HomerConnect system at one time, he said. The college may also need to look into getting a newer server for HomerConnect to improve students’ access to the site — problems he said have not been discussed in the past.
“The one we have is about 5 years old right now,” Scholten said. “There are servers out there that are better than the one we are
using right now, so we’ve been talking with [Information Technology Services] about the possibility of getting one.”
ITS declined to comment on HomerConnect issues.
Kevin Fish, president of the Student Government Association, said SGA senators plan to bring Scholten to a meeting in the spring to talk with students about their experiences registering for classes.
“He’s going to come in and explain some of the problems that are common about registration,” Fish said. “We’ll solicit feedback that we’ve heard from our constituents that will help him solve any of these problems.”
Scholten said he will try to give students a more active role in the registration process next semester when he has a better idea how to
address their concerns.
“Students are usually involved very minimally in talk about registration,” Scholten said. “We’d like to learn more about what they’re experiencing and what other things about registration they’d like to see that aren’t happening right now or they’re just not happy with.”
The student petition, “Ithaca College Class Registration Reform,” can be found at www.tinyurl.com/fixhomerconnect.