Sophomore prints own course bulletin

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A sophomore – upset by the University’s decision not to print a Course Announcement Bulletin for the 2007-2008 academic year – has decided to produce his own.

The homemade paper listing – which provides the course codes, titles and descriptions of all courses offered at Brown alongside the professor’s name, meeting times and semesters offered – will be available at Allegra Print & Imaging on Waterman Street for $10, “hopefully” as soon as today, said Finn Yarbrough ’09, who compiled the bulletin.

Unlike its official predecessor, Yarbrough’s 220-page booklet will not include information beyond course listings, he said. The CAB also provided information about concentration requirements and other University policies.

Yarbrough said he is not making any money from the bulletin and was motivated to create and sell the guide by a desire to send a message to the University administration.

“It’s primarily to show the University that we want it, we need it and they shouldn’t cancel it,” Yarbrough said of the CAB, which the University did not print this year as part of the transition to the new Banner online course registration system.

Students searching for courses using the Banner program – a $23 million system designed to integrate student information from 11 different University offices, including the registrar’s – rely instead on two Web sites: Banner Catalog and Schedule, with the former listing course descriptions and the latter providing meeting times and instructors’ names.

The University did provide students with a printed list of courses for the fall semester that included codes, abbreviated titles, meeting times and professors, but not course descriptions.

A printed booklet, Yarbrough said, “is navigated in a completely different way … than a Web page is,” describing Banner’s online system as “inconvenient and counterintuitive.”

“You can write in the margins, and you have access to all of the courses without having to know what you’re looking for,” he added.

Yarbrough estimated that he spent approximately 50 hours on the project over the last four days.

“I pulled an all-nighter to get it done,” he said.

Yarbrough said he is unsure how many students will take advantage of his bulletin, noting that the idea of paying for a service the University previously provided for free may be “daunting” to students. At least 30 have already expressed interest, he said.

“I feel optimistic about the prospect of 300,” he said. “It’s the price of a meal for being a part of a little piece of history at Brown – the undergraduates printing their own Course Announcement Bulletin.”

“People can be part of something very unusual and potentially sensational,” he added. “The more people do it, the bigger statement there is.”

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