There are a variety of reasons that a student can obtain priority scheduling at Slippery Rock University, but students can easily abuse this system in a number of ways which we don’t think is fair. Members of the Honors Program, student athletes, students with disabilities and veterans have the opportunity to schedule before other undergraduates at the university and while we think all of these groups have reason to be allowed to schedule before other students, this privilege is easily abused.
For example, while no one is disputing that a student who is in a wheelchair should get to schedule around their specific needs, there are instances where a student could be registered with an anxiety problem and use that to their advantage to get their ideal schedule in a manner that does not relate to their disability at all.
We are not discrediting the impact of mental illnesses on students by any means, and there are definitely reasons why a student with anxiety would seek out the Office of Students with Disabilities so that they could schedule their classes around the time they might have panic attacks.
But in our experience, we also see students who register as disabled, holding seats for students in other classes, or are freshman who use it take the last seat in public speaking, when seniors who have been vying the spot for years, are now unable to get into classes that they need.
What’s to stop a student who heard that students who register as having a mental illness get priority scheduling from going and registering as disabled for that very reason?
Another issue we have is with athletes getting priority scheduling.
While we understand the necessity of scheduling classes around practices and games, how often is it that athletes use priority scheduling merely to avoid dreaded 8 a.m. classes. Instead, coaches should be able to communicate with athletes’ counselors so that they can be blocked into classes that are offered during the time they have games and practices, but not allow them to choose every class that meets their whim.
It’s inevitable that older students will reserve classes for their friends who are underclassmen. When students who have priority scheduling reserve seats, it creates unfair advantages to students who have been waiting to take required classes and classes within their major, and can’t because the seats they wanted were taken up before they even got a chance to schedule.
The real issue here is a lack of regulation. There does not seem to be any monitoring of abuse of priority scheduling and even if they were to suspect a student of doing such a thing, it would be a difficult thing to prove.
Students receiving priority scheduling should be held more accountable to utilizing the service for their needs only, not the wants of their friends or as an opportunity to have a light and open schedule. This could be accomplished by more discussion with academic advisors or closer monitoring of the priority scheduling use.
We hope that in the future this is a topic that is examined more closely by the administration with the best interest of all students at heart.