It is 10:57 pm on a Friday night. Sitting in a loud bar are three undergraduate AUB students, frantically searching through AUBsis trying to find a course to register in order to fulfill their 15 credits for the semester. There are three minutes left until the drop and add period is over, and no teacher is responding to any emails. Should we just take Chinese? Honeymaking? How bad would it be if we took 12 credits this semester and overloaded later on?
This is the reality of every AUB student at the start of any semester. At AUB, the hassle of registration is akin to a folk myth, something you hear of in hushed, exasperated tones before you ever have to deal with it. It is something so intrinsic to this university that it has become part of its “personality”.
But as we’ve come out on the other side of yet another hectic, stress-inducing drop and add period, it feels necessary to raise the issues of registration in an effort to try and instill change in a desperately flawed system. We have the opportunity and privilege to attend the most prestigious university in the Middle East, and one of the most esteemed in the world. We get to study what we love, and explore the different courses available to us. So how is it possible that every semester, most students are forced to register for whichever course is available, because the ones they really want are filled up? How is it justifiable that students pay upwards of $20,000 a year for courses they never even wanted to take in the first place? Why should students have to run for a week straight from their advisor’s office to other departments on campus, begging every person they encounter to open capacity for them, only to hear the words “if you’re not graduating this semester then there’s nothing I can do”?
Of course, this is not to say that my experience is the same as every other undergraduate student’s. I am sure some people haven’t had as much trouble with registration in their time here. But for undergraduate students in relatively small departments, like Media Studies and Psychology, this is our reality. Other students snatch our courses because they’re “easy” humanities and social sciences, and we are left with a narrow – if not almost non-existent – selection of courses we can still take. It is disheartening to think about the lack of resources put into our departments, and to feel small and powerless. We have been consistently put on the back burner because there are other, more pressing needs (in bigger departments) to tend to.
I don’t claim to have the answer to this problem, but I do believe that AUB owes it to its students to address this situation and fix it, if not for our generation then for future ones that haven’t had to deal with the horrible facets of registration and that, hopefully, never will.