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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

First Dibs

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At UMass Boston, registering for classes is a complicated, finicky process. WISER is often down and students have to take care of holds on their accounts placed by the Bursar’s Office or any number of other departments.

There are some students who are able to bypass that process completely, and register early. Among those groups are students with disabilities, honors students, and students in special programs, such as The College of Liberal Arts First program. Another group that is allowed to register early, which has some UMass Boston students writhing, are athletes.

The policy hasn’t been in place forever, though. Athletic Director Charlie Titus says such special treatment has been around at UMass Boston since the late 1990s.

It must be considered that there are special circumstances around students at UMass Boston. Being a commuter school, athletics here bring very little attendance and therefore little income to the university. The same overloaded schedules that tax the 15,500 students also burden the 300 student athletes.

Titus was sympathetic towards the majority of students with home lives, school lives and business lives. However, he also stressed that the athletes have made a commitment to represent the university and that they need to have a schedule that allows them to focus on academics first. He said, “If it comes down to an athlete missing a game or missing a class, he will miss the game.”

While the policy is a positive for the athletes, the system has imperfections. A former athlete, who quit after her freshman season in 2009, said she is still allowed to register early despite not competing for the last two seasons. An orientation leader said that a number of freshman athletes come in with schedules already made for them, which leads to their reluctance to participate in orientation activities intended to prepare them for college.

Senior Academic Counselor for Athletics Marybeth Maneen was contacted about these issues, but she refused to comment.

 

There are many arguments to be made both for and against this accommodation. Any athlete will tell you that they need to register early because of the demands that their practice, travel, and game schedules put on them every day. Many UMass Boston students are asserting that every student at this school deserves the same privilege because of the demands they face in everyday life. Psychology major Chris said, “I don’t think they should have the privilege. I’m pretty sure every student at this institution has a job; people should be able to leave class early to get to work on time. I feel like it should be an equal opportunity for everyone at UMass Boston to enroll on time.”

Business major Katie said, “If they need to sign up for classes early to go to practices and games, other people need to get to meetings for clubs, everyone has commitments, so the policy’s not really fair […] if you really need to get specific classes, go on WISER at midnight like everyone else does.” Her opinion was shared by the vast majority of UMass Boston students. Most students here (including a number of athletes), believed that the policy was unfair, and most of them believed that every student should be allowed to register on the same date.

Titus was sympathetic. He said that any student who has questions or concerns about the policy is more than welcome to discuss them with him. He said that his doors are always open and that he sees where students would be frustrated with the system.

This policy is drawing more and more attention from the registrar’s office, so it’s possible that in the future this embattled policy might be repealed, but for now, students have to make their own opinions about the accommodation that’s offered. For one final point, I will say that athletes at UMass Boston receive no scholarships or housing assistance, and therefore early registration is the only perk offered to potential athletes. For UMass Boston to be competitive, this is perhaps a necessity, but for the everyday student, it is a hindrance.