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How Fair Is Course Registration?
[ Issue 128 Page 10 ] Friday, March 28, 2014, 15:20:11 Jisoo Kim kimjisoo.327@gmail.com
Over 40 students have been asked to leave the room in the first class of the first day of school. Among these were 20 Korean and 6 international hoogies (a term that refers to students who enter KAIST in the fall semester) of the entering class of 2013. While problems of student overflows and course authorizations recur at the beginning of every semester, situations were more serious this time: one-third of the entire hoogie freshman population have been rejected from the Calculus II class, a mandatory basic course that all freshmen are entitled to take in their second semester.
In fact, the issue was first brought up late into the previous semester during the online course registration period as many hoogie freshmen got rejected from Calculus II - only 100 students were selected randomly from the pool of students who have applied for the course. The problem was that the applicants of this course included not only hoogie freshmen but also non-freshmen who wished to retake the course. Despite the fact that this was the one and only Calculus II class open for this semester and that this class was prioritized for hoogie freshmen, no effort whatsoever was made to assert their privilege over others’; as a result, many non-freshmen ended up taking their places instead. The hoogie freshman who could not register to the class through the KAIST Portal System explained the situation to the designated professor and received his reply that he will sign the course add/drop application form at the beginning of spring semester.
However, contrary to his initial promise, the professor refused to take any more students on the first day of class. Instead, he suggested all unregistered students to directly ask the Department of Mathematical Sciences to open another Calculus II class. Although students knew opening a new class within the two-week add/drop period would be difficult, they had no other choice but to leave the room and head to the Department of Mathematical Sciences to complain. Not surprisingly, the first answer that came back was to “register again next semester.” Only after much persuasion did the students get the administrator’s unsatisfying reply that he will talk this over with the professor. Well into the second week of school, the professor finally decided to grant permission to all hoogie freshmen, but meanwhile, these students have already missed two weeks of class and were left with a difficult dilemma between holding faith for an opening and adding a replacement for the time slot allotted for Calculus II.
This was not the only occasion in which hoogie freshmen were unable to register for classes opened primarily for them. General Physics Laboratory I, another mandatory basic course, could not even be registered via the KAIST Portal System because the spots were prioritized for the incoming freshmen of Spring 2014. Again, hoogies had absolutely no choice but to wait for all the new students to finish course registration and take the remaining vacant seats at a class time that fit their time schedules. The problem was that there were only around two vacant seats for each of the 28 General Physics Laboratory I classes, allowing for only 40 additional students, even though the total number of hoogie freshmen exceeds 60.

These occurrences imply that the Academic Registrar’s Team failed to take hoogie freshmen into consideration in the course registration process. Unlike all the rest of the KAIST students, whose seats in their mandatory basic courses are automatically reserved for their first two semesters, hoogies have not been given this privilege. Although most students managed to get their course add/ drop application forms signed this time, similar situations will happen unless the fundamental problem in the course registration process is resolved. No freshmen should ever be burdened by problems with mandatory basic course registration on their first day of school. 

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