By Ashlyn Kelly
Christopher Gregory, associate dean of Academic Affairs and director of The Advising Center, announced changes to the advising and registration schedule in an email to the Framingham State community March 22.
Previously, all students in the honors program registered first on the Friday before the Sunday when seniors registered. In-season athletes could register starting at 1 p.m. before other members of their class standing did at 5 p.m.
Now, honors program students register at 7:30 a.m., in-season athletes register at 7:45 a.m., and all other class members register at 8 a.m. on consecutive Monday mornings.
Gregory said he heard from students over the years who have “questioned how honors students are afforded early registration but want even more of a perk of honors status by skipping the entire student-body line.”
According to Ellen Zimmerman, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, the change was made “to create more fairness for all of the students.
“It still preserves an advantage for honor students and athletes, which is important,” she said, “but it reduces the advantage over other students … because they now register ahead of the other members of their own class, but not ahead of everybody in the entire University.”
Zimmerman added it also “increases fairness” for the faculty and staff members who have had to “work eight Sunday evenings a year for the past 15 years.”
The change would affect “a small minority,” she said, because “residential students and students who don’t have an 8:30 class … don’t have to race to campus to be there at 7:30.”
Gregory said the 7:30 a.m. start time was chosen to “keep us out of the 8:30-4:30 class time blocks,” and added more faculty and staff would be available to assist students on a Monday morning, though “the new time was not chosen with that in mind.”
He added the time is “consistent with many schools across the country, between both residential campuses and those dominated by commuters.”
Paul Bruno, faculty director of the Commonwealth Honors Program at Framingham State University, said in an email that he “did not support the changes.”
He said he thinks “priority registration was an important tool” that helped contribute to having “a higher rate of honors students completing all of the requirements of the program,” which are taking “five honors courses and [writing] an honors thesis” as well as completing “the course work for their majors (and often minors).”
According to the Honors Program website, most classes are 100- or 200-level classes that fulfill a general education requirement, but students may make one of their upper-level classes into an honors course by creating an extra project with the professor.
Bruno said, “Honors students have to be thinking ahead to both their honors thesis and the capstones in their major, so the ability to register for a course in their major in, say, their sophomore year can have consequences for them in their senior year. Indeed, it can have consequences for them completing the program.”
He added, “That being said, I recognize that the new policy has potential benefits for honors students. For example, it does happen that honors students get shut out of an honors class in their senior year. The greatest competition among honors students is for honors classes because there are so few of them – only six per semester.
“Honors classes can fill up in literally two minutes, so a senior who needs a I-A Gen Ed can log in two minutes after registration starts and find that the I-A class is already full of honors students who have four or five semesters remaining at FSU. That is a difficult circumstance that happens, so I recognize that the new system should help alleviate that. There are competing interests on campus; sometimes, decisions are made that take a broader view of things,” Bruno said.
Lori Lavigne, Accounting, Economics, and Finance Department chair, said she thinks “it is better to have registration on a weekday where faculty and staff will be more available to help when issues arise.”
She added she has not heard any opinions from students “either positive or negative. I hope students – especially honors and athletes – set their alarms on registration day.”
David Smailes, interim chair of the Political Science Department, said he thinks it is important for faculty and staff to be “as available as possible” to students during advising, and the changes make it “a little easier” to be so.
Sarah Cole, a communication, media, and performance professor, said she thinks the changes are “helpful and streamline the process” as well as “create more equitable solutions.
“The biggest challenge I have heard from advisees is the new Monday morning registration,” Cole added. “It’s early in the morning, so it can be hard to get up for, but I am also thinking about those students who work on the weekends and how this can create more equity for them to sign up with peers.”
McKenzie Ward, SGA president, said “one of the biggest perks” of being in the honors program was having priority registration.
“Now that you have to just write a 50-page paper – and that is really the only part of the Honors Program besides the honors classes – it doesn’t make it worth it,” she said.
Ward added the day and time change is “absolutely ridiculous because we are a fairly large commuter population” and “we are just completely neglecting those who have an 8:30 class and now have to wake up even earlier in order to avoid traffic and make sure that they’re registering on time.”
Kelsey Milinazzo, a junior honors psychology major, said the changes are a “nuisance.”
She said because she student-teaches on Mondays, she will be driving at the time she would be registering. “So I have to go out of my way to give my roommate Eli my registration information and have them do it for me so that I can get the classes that I need, and if Eli has any difficulty registering, then I won’t be able to get in contact with my advisor until later in the day when I’m done teaching and get that figured out.”
Milinazzo added the priority registration was “a benefit that I really appreciated and needed to keep on schedule to graduate in four years.”
Elizabeth Walker, a junior English major, said, “It doesn’t make sense to me as to why they changed it – it seemed like a pretty good system beforehand,” adding she had “never heard anyone complain about it or have issues with it.”
She said the new day and time means she will have to register for classes while at work, which “wasn’t an issue in years past.”
Owen Thornton, a sophomore honors history major, said the change deducts “one of the few real benefits to being an honors student and hinder[s] my drive to continue in the program.”
He added the changes “may create problems” for him when registering for classes because his minor in secondary education “requires very popular courses.”
Matthew Donahoe, a junior computer science major, said he thinks the change is “weird,” “unnecessary,” and came “out of nowhere.
“I don’t want to wake up at 8 a.m.,” he added.
Mandy Taylor, a sophomore elementary education major, said, “I think that it’s going to be particularly overwhelming for the freshmen because they just got used to the process, and now the time and process changed.”
Olivia Copeland, a sophomore honors English major, said she is not “super thrilled” about the changes. “We were promised early registration as an incentive to join the honors program and now that benefit is only partial.”
She added the “stress” of getting into classes is “now added” to the “unique academic challenges” of the Honors Program.
It may have been more “convenient” if the change was “announced earlier or put into effect starting next semester,” said Copeland.
[Editor’s Note: McKenzie Ward is Opinions Editor for The Gatepost.]