Registration bait

by Rebecca Czaplewski

By the time administrators decided to retract a new registration policy because it would unfairly disadvantage some students, it was too late. Inserts detailing the policy hit the stands in spring registration guides on Wednesday.
Now, the Office of Executive Vice President and Provost, responsible for making and retracting the decision, is scrambling to get the word out to students: Disregard the now-defunct policy.
Retracted on Monday, the policy would have given priority registration to undergraduate students who took at least 15 credits the previous quarter.
Craig Swan, vice provost, said the decision wasn’t made in time to take the advertisement of the policy out of the spring class schedules.
The policy was initially proposed in response to concern over both the University’s four-year graduation rates and student credit loads for the upcoming semester conversion. The University hoped the policy would serve as an incentive for students to take more credits per quarter, and, in turn, be rewarded with an earlier registration date for the following quarter.
But after more thought, Swan said he and others involved with the policy were concerned that some students may be disadvantaged. He cited an example of a post-secondary student who, already having 20 credits upon enrolling in the University, may never have to take 15 credits or more per quarter to graduate in four years.
“You can do that and still be on track. Those students shouldn’t be at a disadvantage,” Swan said. “We needed to think about the full range of implications for this.”
One of the major challenges the University faces is improving the four-year graduation rate, said Swan. Recent efforts have made this a bigger issue, including the addition of the four-year plan, improvements in course availability and last fall’s convocation for the class of 2002.
“The presumption is that no students can make it,” Swan said. “We want to start with the presumption that lots of students will graduate in four years.”
Getting the word out about the retraction of the policy is another challenge the University will face in the next few weeks.
University advisors were alerted through e-mail on Tuesday, but officials weren’t certain yet how to inform the student body of the change. A mass e-mail to students, physically removing the advertisement from class schedules and informative posters were all considered.
“Even if it gets to students it doesn’t apply to, it’s better to have too much information than not enough,” said Mary Koskan, assistant director in the Office of the Registrar.
Michelle Mielke, a sophomore studying nutrition, was concerned with how the University planned to get the message of the retraction out to students.
“It’s important,” Mielke said. “The question is, how do they communicate it to students?”
Other students were concerned about the retraction of the policy itself. Freshman Craig Slapinski said the change of policy might change his class plans.
“I would have taken at least 15 credits so I could register,” Slapinski said. “Now, it’s not so definite.”

— Staff Reporter Kelly Hildebrandt contributed to this report.