Students Vote to Keep Pre-Registration in GUSA Election Referendum

In conjunction with the annual Georgetown University Student Association Executive election on Feb. 18, students also casted votes in a campus-wide referendum on course registration.

The referendum, which was added to the election ballot with the goal of  quantifying students’ views on a potential switch in registration processes, asked students the following question: “Would you rather keep pre-registration or switch to live registration?” The response options were “keep pre-registration,” “switch to live registration” and “no preference.” 83 percent voted to keep the pre-registration system, 7 percent voted to switch to live registration, and 9 percent of votes indicated no preference.

After learning that the University will be changing its registration software by February 2017, Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA)’s Outreach Committee organized a town hall discussion this past December to examine the future of course selection at Georgetown. The University is deciding between two course registration software options.

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Former-Georgetown University Registrar John Q. Pierce explaining the benefits of a live registration system at a town hall event in December. Courtesy of Karla Leyja, photographer to The Hoya.

One software is called  Workday, which offers a similar pre-registration process to the one currently in place, and as such, allows students more time to determine which courses would best suit their needs before schedules are finalized. By offering pre-registration, Workday allows them to rank their course preferences and provide alternative course options. The other software that the University is considering is called Banner 9, which is a direct update from the University’s current Banner 8 software, but uses a live registration process instead.

According to the Office of the Registrar, the Banner 9 software is slightly less expensive and potentially easier to use, while the Workday software is still under development by its creators. Regardless of which option the University chooses, the update will cost approximately $17 million.

Adopting a live registration process would stagger entry to courses by class year and leave courses open on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students would know their course results instantly and a number of seats would be reserved in specific classes for majors and underclassmen, to prevent potential instances of unfairness.

During the December town hall discussion, University Registrar John Q. Pierce, who has since retired from his post and been replaced by an interim registrar, spoke to students about the two software options.

“We think the [Banner 9] registration process might be actually better; it would facilitate the mobile app, and if we went to cloud computing where we didn’t have to invest so much money in it … it would cost less to maintain it and thus keep tuition dollars down,” Pierce said in an interview with The Hoya

Following the town hall, GUSA Senators immediately started advocating for a student referendum to be attached to the GUSA Executive election ballot as a way to quantify students’ registration preferences. GUSA Outreach Committee Chair Richie Mullaney was one of the first senators to promote a referendum on course registration, citing that students must be represented in the decision process. On Jan. 24, the referendum was approved to be added to the GUSA Executive election ballot.

After the referendum’s ballot approval, the GUSA Intellectual Life Committee launched a 2-week informational campaign leading up to election day. Members of the committee created a Facebook event page called “Pre vs Live,” which encouraged students to state their preferred registration process by voting. In a final effort to raise awareness of the referendum and encourage participation, members of the GUSA Intellectual Life Committee hosted a pancake breakfast in Red Square on the morning of the election.

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Members of the GUSA Intellectual Life Committee at the “Pre vs Live” pancake event, encouraging students to vote in the referendum. Courtesy of the Pre vs Live Facebook page.

“Georgetown students have this perception of live registration as if it is the Hunger Games. I understand why it is scary because you don’t have the security of pre-registration, but it is really not that bad,” Sam Granville, the GUSA Senator of Village A, said.

The results aside, the purpose of the registration referendum was to simply collect student input that the University could use in their software selection process. “We provided objective information to the student body so that they could decide what they wanted. One of the biggest criticisms of GUSA is that we advocate for issues without knowing what students want, so we had this referendum to understand how students felt,” GUSA Senator Richie Mullaney said in an interview with The Hoya. The University is not obligated to act in accordance with student opinion in their software selection process.

“Now with the overwhelming mandate for pre-registration, I expect GUSA to have a full-fledged campaign to keep pre-registration.”

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Author: An Exploration Into the World of Digital News (JOUR 200)

Sophomore in the College @ Georgetown University, aspiring journalist. Interested in politics and fashion. Portland, originally.

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