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UCS criticizes new Banner course catalog

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

To the Editor:

For the past year and a half, the Undergraduate Council of Students has communicated student input to the administration and the Banner Project Team in an effort to ensure that online course registration be both user-friendly and consistent with Brown’s academic ethos. After reviewing the Banner Catalog and Class Schedule, we were disappointed by the system’s poor construction. We strongly disagree with Associate Provost Nancy Dunbar’s claim that these two systems “won’t be too much extra work.”

From its separate listings of course times and descriptions to its superfluous inclusion of independent studies to its generally unfriendly interface, the current system is more than “extra work.” It is borderline non-functional and, worse, it threatens to irreparably damage Brown academics. Shopping period’s success hinges on students’ ability to identify interesting classes, and the catalog and schedule seriously compromise that ability. In addition, with the discontinuation of the Course Announcement Bulletin, these resources will prove inadequate for Brown’s advising process. Not only will students and faculty no longer be able to have advising conversations over an open book, but the online system will not provide an accessible alternative information source. Finally, the system’s problems extend to prospective students and first years, as they often rely on the Course Announcement Bulletin and BOCA to learn about Brown’s academic offerings

Brown students’ needs for course information can be met simply – Mocha’s example demonstrates this. We urge the Banner team and relevant administrators to work quickly, seek student input and modify the existing system. Students have raised many substantive concerns about Banner’s effect on the Brown curriculum, and the Catalog and Schedule’s problems must be remedied so that the community can re-focus its attention on these more important issues.

The Executive Board of the Undergraduate Council of StudentsJohn Gillis ’07Tristan Freeman ’07Sara Damiano ’08Sara Gentile ’09Brian Becker ’09Hugh Livengood ’07Vernissia Tam ’09Michael Glassman ’09Melissa Revotskie ’09Lauren Kolodny ’08Tara Gonsalves ’08Drew Madden ’10March 19

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