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The Scarlet & Black

Student Registration Liaisons attempt to calm preregistration storm

ET Ourn

The Grinnell College Office of the Registrar is no stranger to registration complications. Even with a new system, registration for the fall 2024 semester has been no exception. Preregistration was set to begin on April 10 until the online registration system, Ellucian Colleague, crashed unexpectedly, replacing the “register” button with a “Do not press THIS” one. 

This comes as anxieties of this spring semester registration are still fresh in the minds of students and advisers. The registrar enlisted Wallis Shepard `25 and Michael Murray `27 as student registration liaisons to mediate these anxieties and assist with registration questions for the fall 2024 semester.  

“After last semester, registrar-student relationships took a little bit of a hit. Which is a reason why we were hired to do this job,” Shepard said.  

In an email to The S&B, Catherine Ashton, registrar, wrote that the liaison position was created to “offer students a platform in the registration process and procedures, as well as to furnish a resource beyond the typical 8-5 timeframe.”

This platform gives Shepard and Murray the opportunity to offer “candid feedback to the office of the registrar” as they answer student registration questions, Ashton wrote.   

During their meetings, Shepard and Murray said that the most common questions are about the timeline of the new registration system and how it is supposed to work overall. 

After last semester, registrar-student relationships took a little bit of a hit. Which is a reason why we were hired to do this job.

— Wallis Shepard `25

Registration was designed to include two rounds — preregistration and open registration. If the online system did not have its recent crash, Shepard and Murray said that students would have already preregistered for up to 19 credits of preferred classes. The results of the preregistration were set to be released to students on April 24. Both student liaisons added that this date now depends on how long it takes to fix the system.  

Despite the preregistration crash, Shepard and Murray said that the new system seems promising to ease the registration process.   

“The new process is easier for me to explain, which is a good sign because it means I understand it,” Shepard said.  

Murray added that it “lets students think more holistically about the actual classes they want to take” since students preregister for their entire preferred schedule at once.  

Ashton wrote that the adjustments made for the new registration system reflect “the analysis of feedback and evaluation of overall measured adjustments.” 

After preregistration is complete, students enter open registration, where they will waitlist for classes to complete their schedules if they didn’t receive all of their priority classes.  

Students are placed into their priority classes “based on faculty-determined rankings for student enrollment priority,” Ashton wrote. These rankings are available on GrinnellShare.  

Ashton added that “students should not anticipate preferential treatment for circumstances beyond the prescribed ranks.” 

This challenges “rumors of unfairness” that students received preferential treatment by visiting the registrar during spring semester registration.  

“Registrar staff was not making exceptions or showing favoritism. Despite efforts to explain this to faculty and students, the rumor of unfairness persisted, contributing to a campus atmosphere of distrust,” Ashton wrote.  

By involving student registration liaisons in the registration process, Ashton seeks to turn the campus atmosphere into one of trust.  

“I trust that the presence of student registration liaisons will enable students to raise inquiries regarding processes, planning and enhancements,” Ashton wrote. 

Registrar staff was not making exceptions or showing favoritism. Despite efforts to explain this to faculty and students, the rumor of unfairness persisted, contributing to a campus atmosphere of distrust.

— Catherine Ashton, registrar

In addition to implementing student registration liaisons, Ashton wrote about potential future additions to the registration system.   

“There should be a readily available four-year pre-built schedule for upcoming years, enabling students to better plan their academic trajectory at Grinnell with confidence in available courses throughout their entire academic journey.” 

Regarding this registration whirlwind, Murray said, “We know that it is very complicated, but everyone is trying their best and we just want everyone to get the classes they want.”  

The student registration liaisons can be contacted via their emails, [murraymi] and [shepardw]. They also hold online office hours on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Addie Persian
Addie Persian, Staff Writer
Addie is a first year from a town smaller than Grinnell (yes, it’s possible) in the middle of Minnesota. She enjoys playing tennis, shopping, eating sour candy, and going to the casino; all of which are definitely not an addiction… She is intending to major in psychology and/or political science and loves to write both scientifically and journalistically.
ET Ourn
ET Ourn, Graphic Designer
Engtieng (ET) is a first-year student from Cambodia who intends to major in Economics with a concentration in Statistics. During her time at Grinnell, she played ultimate frisbee and admits to unintentionally hitting others with the disc countless times. Her hobbies include crochet, jigsaw puzzles, video games, and watching K-dramas.
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    Samuel A. RebelskyApr 22, 2024 at 12:29 pm

    I hope that the Student Registration Liaisons are not suggesting classes to fill in a schedule, as in the illustration. That should be the role of the student’s advisor.