Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

‘This has definitely been the worst’: Seniors express frustration with registration failures

Photo: Yufei Meng
Students receive emails from the Registrar’s Office regarding the temporary closure of Spring 2024 course registration.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information reflecting the successful student registration on Thursday morning.

Emerson’s course registration software, Banner Registration, failed earlier this week after an error obstructed senior undergraduates from registering for the spring semester.

Registration was closed Tuesday through Wednesday to address the error, but will reopen for eligible students on Thursday with the expectation that the system will “operate as intended,” according to a system status report page updated continuously by the Information Technology Help Desk.

“We will continue to post updates on that page. We will also write a final incident resolution there when the incident is concluded,” Frankie Frain, the assistant vice president of IT security and infrastructure, wrote in an email to the Beacon. “As you can imagine, we are actively engaged in this issue, so posting to that page will be the most efficient means for us to provide updates to the community.”

According to the status report, Banner Registration crashed 15 minutes after it opened Monday morning, and again four minutes after opening Tuesday morning. Most senior-standing students who were eligible to register Monday at 7 a.m. were unable to confirm their registration.

Susan Eyring, a senior interdisciplinary studies student, felt shifting senior registration times to 7 a.m. Tuesday morning and subsequent times back half an hour, was not the correct move. 

“Seniors should not be confined to a 30-minute window to register before they open up registration to the next group. It’s not fair to us, and it’s not fair to juniors who then have to scramble if one of their classes fills in that 30-minute frame,” she wrote in an email to the Beacon.

To bolster the system in anticipation of the next round of student registration, the IT department has increased the number of data connections supported between the Banner Registration server and database server, allowing more students to be able to register simultaneously. IT has also increased the session timeout function that tells the server how long to wait before giving up on a transaction to improve the likelihood that actions are completed.

Personally, this is a stressful situation because next semester I won’t be a full-time student and as of right now, because I’m not registered for anything, I don’t have a bill,” Rebecca Neary, a senior creative writing student, said. “Without being registered for classes and without a bill for the spring semester, I have no footing in order to gain a student loan.”

As a part-time student, Neary will enter her next semester at Emerson without financial aid. The situation has “thrown a wrench” in her financial planning, she said, and without the total bill amount, she cannot apply for a loan.

“I feel like they haven’t really told us what the issue is,” she said. “On [Tuesday], it felt like they rushed it and didn’t really do anything to fix the problem.”

After the initial Monday crash, IT performed several remedial actions to address the error, including restarting the software, and requested additional support from Ellucian, Banner Registration’s parent company. By Tuesday, the cause of the error was still unknown after the program failed for a second time, and IT focused its efforts on simulating the registration environment to reproduce the error, according to the status report.

Senior students affected by the crash, like business of creative enterprises student Harry Robinson, noted that registration issues were nothing new at Emerson.

“I haven’t necessarily had problems like this with registration in the past—this has definitely been the worst,” he said. “It’s frustrating because the students that get in at seven o’clock in five seconds, they can register for the classes, but by the time you’re admitted, [you’re] unable to register, so some of your classes might have been taken up and you’re screwed for the rest of the day.”

Robinson’s criticism also lies with the sheer number of students consistently expected to register at one time. 

“Getting more students on a website known to crash with an influx of people is a really bad system to be under for such a prestigious college,” he said. “People are paying a lot of money to be here, and they should be able to take the classes they want to take and feel comfortable signing up for them within the reasonable time that they gave us.”

Hundreds of senior students were able to successfully complete registration Thursday morning after a previous error was identified and addressed, according to a status update provided by IT. The Office of the Registrar will abide by the updated registration schedule through Nov. 17 for all undergraduates.

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About the Contributor
Adri Pray, Editor-at-large
Adri Pray (she/her) is a junior journalism student from Cape Cod, MA who formerly worked as the City Content Managing Editor. Previously a correspondent, Assistant Express News Editor, and News Editor, she has written for both the paper and the magazine, and enjoys investigative journalism, with aspirations of being a breaking news reporter. Outside of The Beacon, Pray is a freelance journalist for Cambridge Day and has words in Food Bank News and Milk Crate, Emerson's online music publication run out of WECB.

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