Friday, August 24, 2012

Registrar's Office

I may have ranted about this in the past. If I have, I apologize in advance.
On the other hand, a new event happened today, so I feel self-righteous enough to rant again.
Am I the only one who has trouble with the staff weenies in the registrar’s office? Why do we have to do what they say about timing for submitting grades, completing mindless paperwork for changing classes, advising, etc.? WTF do they do except dump their work on us?

We have the staff tail wagging the faculty dog, once again.

I had a snowflake in the office wanting to drop and add in order to get out of doing real work in a chemistry class. (He was, to his credit, honest enough to admit this, even if he didn’t put it in those words). I tried to accommodate him during “late” registration today, and I put him in the class he requested. When he took his paperwork to the registrar’s office, I got a snooty call from a clerk who informed me that I couldn’t put him in the biology class because it required a lab. I asked how I was supposed to know this, and she informed me that it was listed as a four hour course. (Indeed, it was, but so what?)

So I asked her what the student wanted to do, and her response was “Well, since you don’t want to help him, I guess I’ll just do it myself.” My response was, “OK, suit yourself,” and I hung up.

Why do I let these people get to me?

Bless you, all of you, for letting me rant. May your term start off better than mine has so far.


  1. Er, so you made a mistake in your advising, and your response to this is "So what"?

    How about "I'm sorry, I should have noticed that," followed by "what can I do to help?"

    You have to do what the registrar says, when they say it, because they have certain rules to comply with as well. And they have their timetables of when their work needs to be done.

    I have to report non-attending students. Why? So that the university isn't ripped off for fraudulently applied for grant money. I have to submit grades when they are due. Why? So that they can compile grades for the students, so that students can graduate, and that they will know if some need to be immediately put on probation or suspension.

    These people are not "weenies". They are your colleagues, and they have their own work to do. Do your job effectively and they won't get snooty on you. But if you fuck up and refuse to apologize or make things right, you will get an attitude.

  2. You don't know that a lab course is 4 credits? How much or how little advising do you do? The student was better off with a staffer in this case if you could not provide the right help. I know it's de rigeur for us to fight all comers, but staff folks save my ass on a daily basis.

  3. I agree that there is sometimes a sensation of "Who's working for whom here?" with these people. IT people also do this.

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  6. Oy veh. People working the telephone at the registrar are hardly administrators. They are staff, and at my institution they earn less than a third of what I earn, while their workload has doubled and tripled due to budget cuts. Give them a little respect, and don't confuse them with the bureaucrats at the top who are paid in 6 figures.

    I used to do temporary staff work in universities and businesses. Compared to corporate and management types, college professors were egregious failures at basic civility and competence in routine tasks. If I were a staff person I'd choose a business environment any time.

  7. I've had no problem with the staff in our registrar's office, either. The software they use/administer is another matter, but that's hardly their fault, and they do try to keep us apprised of quirks, changes, etc. And yes, they often know the regulations better than we do (which is why I often send students there to ask their questions; of course, I'm not trained as an adviser, so I'm not supposed to know the answers to most questions).

    It may vary by institution, however. I did have a very unpleasant encounter with the registrar's office staff at a small public SLAC where I adjuncted for several years. I lived over 60 mostly-highway miles away, and, one icy December day, arrived at their office with my scantrons about an hour late, having slipped and slid for several hours over roads that weren't fit to navigate (on, of course, very little sleep). All of the nice, grandmotherly-looking ladies in the office, festively decked out in Christmas sweaters and longingly glancing at the plates of cookies ready to be uncovered for a holiday party that would occur as soon as they were done with the grades, absolutely glared at me, while the one in charge balled me out for holding up the report card printing and mailing process (which, to be fair, had to be accomplished in a single printing). I understood the problem (and, perhaps, their own desire to get home, though the party seemed to be uppermost in their minds), but my getting into an accident on the way would not have improved matters. Of course, part of what we were all suffering from was the tyranny of early computerized approaches. If they'd been typing up each report card by hand, or we'd all been using today's software systems, everybody's stress level would have been considerably lower. So maybe there's something to be said for the annoying software after all.

  8. I'm not going to join the pile-on, but in my experience the registrar at my SLAC is one of the least screwed up offices on campus. I don't think I've ever had a single problem with them, and I certainly am no angel at making deadlines. But they work hard, handle a massive amount of highly sensitive information very quickly and efficiently, and have never made my job harder. I guess the only issue I've had is that I've requested room changes and not gotten them, but space is at a premium where I am, so I cut them some slack. Perhaps the Wanderer's experiences have led him or her to this particular rant, but thank god I don't share in that misery.


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