The Failure of Add/Drop/Swap

Add/Drop/Swap at Emory University is a failing, antiquated system. That was the case this time last where, when the Wheel published an editorial saying so. It remains true today.  The point of Add/Drop/Swap, a period of time to pick classes before enrollment, is for students to ensure that their schedules meet their requirements and choices for the rest of the semester. In the spring, this period is interrupted, as it must be, by the celebration of the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., which means students only attend one Monday/Wednesday class to receive a syllabus. They are then forced to enroll without any substantive class exposure. An extreme example is Introduction to Fiction Writing, a Monday-only class, in which students can enroll but have no opportunity to sit down for the course before Add/Drop/Swap ends. Currently, Add/Drop/Swap does not meet the needs of the student body.

Add/Drop/Swap allows students to test out new professors or different departments without enrolling in the class for the rest of the semester. But when that test does not involve any tangible sources such as adequate Course Atlas information or a portal to access previous course syllabi, Add/Drop/Swap is truly a matter of chance and probability. College Dean Michael A. Elliott sympathized with this particular frustration.“We’ve struggled with how to disseminate this information, he said in an interview, “[The] Course Atlas and OPUS can only contain so much information but yet, more detail is obviously better.”

Financial aid award distribution can justify maintaining Add/Drop/Swap in its current form; certain funds cannot be distributed until this enrollment period ends. However, that does not excuse the lack of a comprehensive process for assessing a course prior to enrollment.

In the past, there was a system for students called LearnLink that served as an informational database for Emory course offerings. LearnLink provided a means of helpfully assessing professors in a way that would aid students during Add/Drop/Swap, but was taken down before BlackBoard was introduced. Students can no longer utilize the database.

According to Elliott, the best way for students to propose a policy change would be through College Council and the Student Government Association (SGA). College Council has already tried to fix this problem by creating a database to which students upload syllabi on OrgSync. This site however has empty folders for certain majors and is a poorly marketed alternative to a simple solution. Allowing qualified students on the Calendar Committee, an administrative group responsible for all changes to the academic calendar, would address the disparity between student concern and administrative reform. This solution would address the problem by going straight to the people responsible for the scheduling, instead of having to work through student government.

The Emory student body has a responsibility to organize desired change. The student body should address the current failure of the Add/Drop/Swap system by persistently contacting the Registrar, deans and faculty members. They must know that students are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until the current system is updated to an acceptable standard.

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