Students and student representatives alike voiced their opinions of priority registration changes during the Student Government Association’s open forum on Tuesday.
Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and University Registrar Freida Eggleton attended the meeting to answer questions from students and SGA.
The new system, which went into effect for spring registration, divides priority registration into two categories: tier 1 and tier 2. The first is determined by need, and the second is based on benefit.
Students who qualified for priority registration could only register for up to 16 credit hours. They then had the option to add more credit hours during open registration.
Seniors and graduate students still registered before those with priority registration but were not subject to the 16-credit hour limit.
Emslie began by speaking about the need for an overhaul of the priority registration system.
“The number of students [in the past] getting this special priority registration — not the graduating seniors — was getting up to 3,000 … if we added that to the graduating seniors, you are probably approaching half of the university population getting priority registration.”
Emslie said the new system was created to address this point and required groups to re-submit their need for priority registration status.
He said Tier One was reserved for students for whom priority registration was essential.
Tier One included “students, for example, who travel on Fridays or Mondays because they are athletes or they are on the forensics team, and therefore need classes in the Tuesday, Thursday time slot,” Emslie said.
Honors College students, he said, were determined to be in the tier 2, or benefit, category.
Certain students with disabilities are currently without priority registration privileges. While some groups — students with physical, deaf and visual impairments — do have priority registration, other students such as those with autism or other learning disabilities do not.
Emslie said this was because Student Disability Coordinator Matthew Davis had not submitted an application for them to receive priority status.
Marty Boman, associate professor and director of the Kelly Autism Program, was in attendance at the meeting.
“All students with disabilities have the right for prior registration,” Boman said. “Why Matt [Davis] didn’t include all [students with disabilities] I do not know, but there is clearly a lack of understanding of the stress and anxiety that does go along with our students…this is something that should be granted.”
Emslie said he didn’t disagree and that any group who wished to be considered for priority registration would need to submit for it, as the policy states.
Boman said she would file for priority registration status on behalf of disabled students.
Senator Tyler Scaff voiced concerns he had heard from honors students. He said several students had spoken to him about difficulty in registering for classes they needed as a result of being grouped in the Tier Two category.
He specifically said honors seniors were concerned because they do not have priority over regular seniors or graduate students and that some were delaying their graduation date or dropping out of the Honors College altogether.
Emslie said honors students in the past never had priority over other seniors.
“It’s the same as it always was,” Emslie said. “All seniors are equally important when it comes to graduating on time.”
Emslie said the policy could be brought under review, but it would have to go through all the procedures for changing university policy.
“To get to that level, I would have to see some pretty compelling evidence that students were in fact delaying graduation for a semester,” Emslie said. “That is actually pretty troubling for me to hear if that really is occurring.”