Idea Trek

Leveraging technology to increase equity in the add/drop period In Reserve

There are several issues with our current add/drop system in which students try to add courses after WebTree has run.

(1) When the system opens early in the morning, students report website/browser crashing, and cannot get the courses they want in the first minute.

(2) For spots that open up later in the week, it creates pressure for students to constantly check course availability throughout the week.

(3) Most troubling, there are multiple reports of students placed into high-demand courses being propositioned with offers to sell their spot in that class for as much as $100.


To solve these issues, I propose a new add/drop system with the following features:

(1) When a student drops a class, it becomes visible as an opening viewable to any student immediately in the course schedule.

(2) However, no one will be able to claim that spot for some period of time we would define (example: 48 hours).

(3) Critically, in that 48-hour period, *any* student could put in a request for that spot opening.

(4) The student who gets the spot after the 48 hours would be based on their original WebTree submission.


As an example, imagine student A gets a class and plans to sell it to their wealthy friend, B. But student C is a senior, and listed the course high on their tree, while student B did not. In this system, student A would be unable to sell it to B because they could not guarantee that student C would not exist and claim it.


Ultimately, my proposal is essentially an ongoing "WebTree round 2." It could either depend on students' original trees, or perhaps give them an opportunity to re-rank courses first before being implemented.

Does your idea have funding? (this will not influence decisions to support/not support the idea) No

What might prevent this idea from working?

Issues affecting our current add/drop system are listed above. Of those, the third is especially important to solve. The practice of selling one's spot is deeply problematic, as it is exclusive and makes it more likely for course spots to go to wealthy students to the exclusion of those without the means to pay exorbitant prices for course spots. In an informal poll, I asked 10 students if they knew of this pactice happening, and 9 of them were, suggesting it is more common than might be appreciated. More generally, the add/drop period causes a lot of stress on our students.

How might this idea solve it?

With this system, students would no longer be able to coordinate with their friends or pay their acquaintances to get into a course that is full. It would make the process more transparent and fair.

Who would benefit from this idea? Who are your stakeholders?

I think all students would benefit from a process with increased fairness. Also, it would relieve pressure on both faculty and on the registrar's office in dealing with student demand for access to courses.

How does this idea achieve your goals for a great senior experience?

It would require an initial input of technological design and labor that is probably comparable to the work that went into making WebTree the first time. After that it would run itself and require no more labor or cost than the current WebTree system.


Idea No. 53