Human Error Causes Registration Mishap




Freshmen set their alarm clocks early, had their multiple wifi devices and course registration numbers (CRNs) at hand to register at 7 a.m. on April 13. Everything seemed ready to go at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) – except the registration system.

Students with between zero and 18 credits attempting to register for courses for the fall 2016 semester were met by the alert, “Time tickets prevent registration at this time” until 7:45 a.m., when the issue was resolved.

Gene Fein, Ph.D., assistant vice president for academic records and services, said that “It was not a malfunction but a simple human error.”  

“The FCLC college code was not properly loaded onto the form in Banner that controls registration,” he said. “It is my understanding that it was quickly rectified.  It affected all FCLC students who earned 0-18 credits, so there was not an issue of fairness because all were in the same situation.”

Fein, who acknowledged that the college codes and time tickets are his responsibility, said that “it did affect students across the board so I do know it was very frustrating and rightfully so that it wasn’t available first thing at seven in the morning.”

“Everyone was in the same situation. So they basically wound up registering later than they should have, and it certainly should not have happened, but that is what happened,” Fein said.

Dean of Freshmen Joseph Desciak said that “It was disappointing this morning when it didn’t work because I thought we were ready to go.”

[quote_center]“The lines just blew up outside. I had 62 emails in 15 minutes. It created an undue panic.”[/quote_center]

“And it had been going fine all week,” he said. “And then this morning for the last day, for there to be a panic is really unnecessary. So it’s disappointing in some sense, but it was a mistake.”

He added that there is “a protocol in place” to handle such situations, “because a couple of years ago there was a real registration disaster that happened.” The “disaster” occurred in April 2014, when a system failure prevented freshmen from registering for classes, causing the class deans to register them manually.  

Elizabeth Cornell, Ph.D., director of IT communications, said that the new Banner XE system is not as susceptible to crashes, because it is a “much better platform for handling registration” and the entire system has been moved “to the cloud, which is a very stable environment for hosting the system.”

“So since I was coming in before 7 all this week, I was ready for it, and there was the line,” Desciak said. “The lines just blew up outside. I had 62 emails in 15 minutes. It created an undue panic.”

He continued that the deans did not opt to manually register students, because it “wouldn’t be fair for commuters, people who just can’t here fast enough.”

When the issue was resolved, the reaction of the students who had come to his office was “hilarious.”  

“I let them sit in the seminar room and I knew the system worked because there was ridiculous cheering going on and it was really kind of fun,” Desciak said. “So that’s how I knew and then I called Father Grimes back and I said that I think the system is working.”

Regarding students who registered that morning not getting the classes they wanted, Desciak said that “I would say 90 percent of it was that they were already full.”

“And I know the group that registered today would probably not want to hear this, but there is actually enough other things for them to do in the meantime that would still satisfy some core requirement,” Desciak said, noting the students’ common request to be registered in Philosophical Ethics, a course which had filled up on April 12.

He added that the University guarantees students a full schedule and that add/drop does not end until the first week of the [fall semester], so it is “not the end of the world.”

“The most important piece I think in dealing with anything that we do in academic advising and the Deans’ Office is to have a good sense of humor,” he said. “And I really mean that. The panic of the students can be, at least a large piece of it can be taken away simply by being patient and smiling and kind of having a good sense of humor. So I hope that comes across, that you’ve got a friendly face on the other side of the desk here.”

Student reactions to the delayed registration varied, including one student who said “it made my life hell” and Liam Haber, FCLC ’19, who said “It was annoying, but what’re you going to do.”

Some students, such as Nora Elnagar, FCLC ’19, were adversely affected by the delay.

“I got up at 6:30  to register and I got on at 7 and it wasn’t working,” she said. “So after a half hour I called Dean Bravo. And then I looked away for like two minutes and when I came back it was working and people were taking all of the courses.”

Sabrina Polkowski, FCLC ’19, said that “it was very, very stressful.”

“The waiting for 45 minutes for the thing to open up was horrible,” she said. “There were like 15 of us, sitting in Starbucks, and it was like a death march because we were all just sitting there clicking it, and it wasn’t happening, and it was horrible. But then once it worked, it was two seconds, and it was fine.”

Additional reporting by Reese Ravner, Asst. News Co-Editor