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Software malfunction prevents many CCSF students from registering for classes

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A new registration system introduced at City College of San Francisco in November was intended to provide a more user-friendly experience for students, but has created problems with class registration. (Laura Waxmann/S.F. Examiner)

Malfunctions in newly upgraded administrative software meant to improve the online experience of City College of San Francisco students prevented many from registering in time for the first day of classes on Monday.

College administrators have said the transition to Banner 9, a computer information system used for anything from record keeping to student registration, took place in November, in the middle of the academic year, because the old platform would no longer be supported in 2019.

Students wishing to register for classes over the past week were initially greeted with a sleek new interface that to some appeared more navigable and user friendly. But as they attempted to register for classes online, some received what was described as an “unhelpful” message:

“An error has occurred during the processing of your registration. Please try to submit again.”

As of Tuesday, the malfunctions had prompted a total of 402 calls related to online registration since January 7, which is when the college resumed operations after the winter break, CCSF spokesperson Connie Chan confirmed.

Students affected by the glitches said problems started almost immediately after the new software launched — and continued through the second day of classes on Tuesday.

“The problem started in November. It’s been an ongoing thing that they have not been able to resolve — even today,” said Isabel Saylor, a member of CCSF’s Associated Students Council.

Drew Min, also with ASC, said that while some students appeared to be blocked from registering entirely, others fumed over a slow moving website that prevented them from viewing where and when classes were being held.

“So a lot of students have actually been lining up in the registrar’s office to find out what classes they have, there’s been long lines. That’s not normal,” said Min, adding that ASC has stepped up to help students locate classes.

Registration for the spring semester started in November and ended on January 12, but the issues have prompted college officials to extend the deadline to February 4.

“The College’s IT team identified the online registration system was experiencing technical difficulties late December and has experienced challenges intermittently since then,” Chan wrote in an email. “The IT team immediately began troubleshooting to make the appropriate fixes and continues to monitor and take corrective action. Meanwhile, the College has encouraged students to register in-person or call a helpline for assistance.”

On Tuesday, many students reported that they still had not been able to register for their desired classes online, and instead were forced to register in person.

“It’s taken me about a week to register. I had to call tech support on two to three different occasions. So we decided to come in today and just register in person and we are still not registered. Now we have to go get add codes from the professors for the classes we want to take,” said Nathaniel Girard, who is in his first semester at CCSF.

The system’s meltdown also affected faculty and staff at the college. On Tuesday, an employee in CCSF’s administrative office advised students to attempt registering late at night to avoid backing up the system.

“Right now everyone is trying to go in,” said the employee, adding that “there are a lot of problems with the website. It’s very stressful.”

Students applying for parking permits online were offered two weeks of free parking due to the malfunctions.

The registration troubles worried some of the college’s faculty, who pointed to recent efforts by CCSF administrators to cut as much as a third of the school’s offerings over the next several years to fix a structural budget issue.

Some expressed concerns that the system malfunctions could deter students from registering, resulting in more cuts.

Other faculty members said that they were irritated with the malfunctions, but praised the college administration’s communication regarding the issues.

Rocha also addressed the issue in a memo to CCSF faculty and staff on January 8, calling the system’s transition “troublesome, to say the very least.”

“Our first concern is for our students and their ability to register for the courses they need this spring. We also want to minimize the impact on part-time faculty who are scheduled to teach this spring,” wrote Rocha, adding that the college’s vice chancellors have been working with union leaders to “review initiatives to increase enrollment, especially for historically low enrolled classes.”

Rocha also promised that there would be “no class cuts or changes until Banner 9 student registration issues are resolved.”

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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