RAMSS drops the ball on students

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By Rebecca Burton
Associate News Editor

Students scrambled to fill empty timetables and replace dropped classes after RAMSS booted them out of classes after the winter break.

Third-year civil engineering student Basil Hammoud signed into RAMSS to find himself dropped out of all his courses, making it a challenge to re-enrol, especially in his required labs.

Registrar Keith Alnwick said the problem wasn’t technical but involved students on probationary standing.

“It is assumed that students will successfully complete pre requisites. After the fall grades are processed, a number of students will not. As a result [the students] are automatically dropped,” said Alnwick.

While Hammoud had been on academic probation for the past two semesters, this semester he passed with clear academic standing.

“Maybe they just made assumptions,” said Hammoud.

This year not all students were dropped automatically after the fall grades came out. Instead a number of students had courses dropped from their schedules during the week of Jan. 3; a problem Alnwick said he is still looking into.

The automated drop feature was added to RAMSS in fall 2005, the year the program was implemented. During winter enrollment of that year, the Eyeopener reported that students experienced incidences of RAMSS randomly pulling students out of their registered courses before the semester began.

Alnwick said students should be reminded that course intentions do not guarantee spots but rather what a student is interested in taking.

The timing of winter enrolment itself makes it difficult for students as there are no staff members available to answer questions during the break. All a student will know immediately comes from the letter they get indicating that they are on probation.

Some program departments will choose to drop students out of courses as a way of getting that student to come in to talk about the probationary contract, says Alnwick.

Second year social work student Hayley Syrja McNally, like Hammoud, logged on to find an empty schedule. McNally both completed her course intentions and had never been on academic probation. She struggled for two weeks to get reenrolled back into her six-class course load.

“I got back into one class, a week later [I was in] four classes and then finally the full six. But by then, everything was full so I wasn’t able to switch my schedule around. Now I have class every day,” she says.

Jeff Edmunds was the man responsible for getting McNally back into her required courses. Edmunds said students get into trouble when they do not register for required courses because they assume they don’t have to.

Still, McNally, who had completed course intentions, was left with no answers.

“[Required courses] shouldn’t be dropped,” said Edmunds.

RAMSS, a program used by over 200 universities in North America, is hosted by Peoplesoft Campus Solutions. Since its implementation, the system has since had its fair share of complaints among the student body.

During its high-traffic times including enrolment periods and mark release dates, students have reported multiple failures in the system.

“The day the marks came out, there was a jam on the website. I couldn’t check my marks for about an hour,” said fourth year engineering student Eric Liu.

Alnwick said his department intentionally set the enrolment period at 5:30 a.m. to try to balance the load of students logging on.

Both McNally and Hammoud remain unhappy with their lack of choice when it came to their timetables.

Hammoud said he already skipped two classes on his first day in order to pick up a shift for work.

“I’m in second year now. It should have gone smoothly,” said McNally.

Photo: Rebecca Burton

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