University limits priority registration

GW is eliminating priority registration for about two-thirds of students who traditionally register early. Officials said the number of students in organizations that register early climbed to about 26 percent of undergraduates this year and has caused upperclassmen to get shut out of classes.

More than 10 student organizations and programs were allowed to register before all other undergraduates because they have unique “scheduling demands,” but the number of students got too high, officials said.

“It got to the point where we had to do something,” said Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president for academic planning and special projects. “The 26 percent of undergraduates that had privileged registration has had a tremendous impact on the 74 percent who don’t have it.”

Only athletes, athletic trainers, those involved with Emergency Medical Response, current Honors Program students and some students with disabilities will be still be able to register early this spring for the fall 2003 semester.

The revised number of undergraduates allowed to register is about 10 percent of students.

Students who will lose early registration are members of the band, Cherry Tree staff, debate team, The Hatchet editorial staff, future Honors Program, Neighbors Project, spirit team, as well as Student Admissions Representatives, those receiving Presidential Arts Scholarships and Trachtenberg Scholarships and some students studying abroad.

“There should be one criteria (for privileged registration) – scheduling demands,” Linebaugh said.

Linebaugh sent a letter to the organizations in mid-September outlining the decision, stating that privileged registration placed “the majority of undergraduate students at a disadvantage in obtaining those courses they need and desire to take.”

Members of EMeRG, the Honors Program and The Hatchet approached Linebaugh to discuss the situation. No other organizations initiated discussion, Linebaugh said.

EMeRG will retain its privileges because it is a 24-hour “911” service with student volunteers, while the Honors Program will slowly be phased out of early registration, as students currently in the program will be able to register early until they graduate, Linebaugh said.

Honors program officials said the elimination of privileged registration will put the program at a disadvantage when honors students are considering coming to GW.

“I strongly urge the University to reconsider,” said Director of the Honors Program Peter Rollberg. “The program draws in first-rate students. It would be very hard to recruit good students to the Honors Program if (GW) drops (privileged registration).”

The Student Association passed a resolution against the new policy last week, emphasizing the importance of the Honors Program.

“GW is in direct competition with the universities in the top 50 and needs to be comparable in offerings with its Honors Program students,” according to the resolution.

Twenty-nine out of 30 randomly selected universities comparable to GW had honors programs with priority registration, said Sen. Kate Rocco (U-ESIA), who sponsored the bill.

A copy of the resolution was sent out to University administrators and the chairman of the Board of Trustees. The SA has yet to receive a response from the University.

“I would hate to think that someone very strong academically would choose what university to go to based on privileged registration,” Linebaugh said.

Rollberg said that if the registration change negatively affects of the program, he was told it will be “revised.”

Although administrators said the decisions are final, two admissions counselors sent out an e-mail to all STAR campus tour guides Monday.

“The Office of Admissions is currently working to resolve the situation/come up with alternatives,” and the issue is not “concluded,” according to the e-mail.

STAR coordinators and the authors of the letter were unavailable for comment after the e-mail was sent out.

Some STARs said privileged registration is necessary because they give a tour once a week and it might detract some students from applying to the program.

“If I hadn’t had the perk of priority registration, it would be really hard to find tour time,” said sophomore Catherine Clement, a STAR. “I imagine there are some people who apply (to be a STAR) because of that perk, but it requires a certain type of person to inspire people to come to the school.”

Linebaugh said that if organizations want to discuss the issue he would be happy to meet with each one of the groups to discuss their individual needs for early registration.

Students said that they were disappointed by the change and that they believe early registration is still needed.

“It’s not like we are getting the best classes,” said Neighbors Corps member Alli Demarest, who takes morning classes to fit service work into her schedule. “We are designing our schedules so we can do our jobs.”

– T. Neil Sroka contributed to this report.

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