Steve Katsikaris decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree in September. PHOTO: Behdad Mahichi

Students chained and struggling with RAMSS

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By Behdad Mahichi

A Ryerson student is facing academic probation for failing a course he says he never took.

Steve Katsikaris, a first-year undeclared student, was shocked when he found out that he had failed an Ancient Greece and Rome history class, a course he thought he had dropped in September.

Katsikaris, 40, said he is now on academic probation because of a RAMSS computer malfunction that took place when using the “drop class” tool. He said that Ryerson is doing nothing about it.

“My marks are suffering right now because I’m so busy worrying and trying to resolve this,” Katsikaris said.

Upon returning to school in January, Katsikaris said he received a call from undergraduate program administrator Anne Marie Donovan, who told him that he would be forced to sign a probationary contract in order to continue his studies. His RAMSS account shows an “F” grade for his Ancient Greece and Rome class, which significantly lowers his overall GPA.

Under the probationary contract, a student can only be enrolled in up to three courses.

Katsikaris was required to drop his marketing class this semester, ultimately delaying his graduation.

“Everything I’m doing is being set back because of a computer glitch,” Katsikaris said.

It isn’t clear whether the complication was due to a glitch or a transactional mistake. But according to university registrar Charmaine Hack, RAMSS is a system that has proved itself fully stable.

“RAMSS is very reliable when it comes to course drops,” Hack said. “If the course was dropped successfully it would not be a factor in the assignment of probationary status.”

Katsikaris decided to enroll in classes at Ryerson to earn his degree after spending 20 years away from schooling.

To keep his options open, he enrolled in four classes with the intention of picking three and dropping one.

“It’s taking [Ryerson] too long to solve a very simple issue,” he said.

After being notified of his probation status, he attempted to solve the issue himself.

“I knew everything is recorded when you’re on Ryerson’s system, so I called enrollment services to get a confirmation date on the day I dropped the course. They had the answer in 30 seconds,” he said.

In a thread of emails obtained by the Eyeopener, Donovan also acknowledged Katsikaris’ attempt to drop the course on Sept. 12, 2013. However, the course was not removed from his Blackboard account.

Students risk being kicked out unless all their grades are kept above 60 per cent.

“You have rules, then you have appeals, then you have exceptions,” explained Ryerson president Sheldon Levy. “To be able to determine where the student is, the best thing for a student to do is to touch base with the registrar.”

As midterms approach, Katsikaris is irritated that he remains on probation. He said that RAMSS is often ineffective.

“Administration should be contacting their superiors to fix this. This is their job. Mine is to be a good student.”

Katsikaris isn’t the only student who finds RAMSS a very troubling system.

Colton Stockus, a first-year creative industries student described RAMSS as a “time-guzzling headache.”

“It’s super out of date and hard to navigate through,” Stockus said. “I’m fine with Blackboard, but RAMSS is a pain.”

Although there has been speculation about possible changes to Blackboard, Levy said there are no set plans to change RAMSS.

“If you’re going to do this on the system and hold students accountable, you have to do it like a hotel service. Once you drop something, they send you a confirmation number through your email,” Katsikaris said. “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. You could see someone who is 18 or 19 years old intimidated by something like this.”

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