Bureaucracy – the bain of student existence

Two weeks ago, I was finally allowed to register for the summer and fall semester. I already had picked the classes I needed and when I found my way to the USF Library, laptop in hand, to register, I only needed to type in the course numbers. Apparently that would have been too easy; when my time came and I logged onto OASIS and tried to add a class, I was told by the system there was a hold on my account.

“Great,” I thought. “Why couldn’t the system show me this little piece of information before and not now when I was trying to get into classes that only had a few remaining seats available?” While students around me were frantically registering, I called the number that OASIS had given me. The female voice on the other end of the line told me library late fees caused the hold.

“Oh,” I said, remembering I had forgotten to return a book this semester but had since returned it. “So once I pay this I can register?”

“Yes,” came the answer from the other end. Well, that was simple enough, as I was at the Library already. I gathered up my things and walked over to checkout counter.

I spent another five minutes or so standing in line until it was my turn and I approached the friendly clerk, credit card and student ID at the ready.

“Oh, no,” I was told. “You can’t pay that here. You used to be able to, but we recently changed that. You will have to go over to Administration and pay it at the Cashier’s Office.” I frowned, but thanked the clerk — after all, it wasn’t his fault that I hadn’t been told where to go to pay the fees — and walked over to the Administration building.

“Social?” came the customary greeting for any student that enters the Cashier’s Office. I gave my number and awaited the verdict. “$7.50.” I stared at the cashier. “You have got to be kidding? There is a hold on me for seven bucks?” Signing the credit card receipt I asked, “But now I can register, right?” “You should be able to,” I was told.

So back to the Library, OASIS, enter the course reference number, hit “add class” and … yet another hold.

Gathering from the cryptically worded information that the newly-discovered hold had something to do with Student Health Services I called them. Again I was greeted with the now-familiar phrase “Social?” and was told I had to fill out a form. Again I gathered my things, walked past the Administration building, where I had just been, to Student Health Services, and filled out the form after again telling the clerk my social security number. All it took was filling in my name, address and, you guessed it, social security number, and, most importantly I had to check a box. When I gave the clipboard back to the clerk, she said it would only take five minutes to go through and then I would be able to register. It was sheer formality, but it was required before I could register.

Another 10 minutes later I finally clicked “add class” in OASIS and it indeed went through, snatching up the last seat in a class I needed.

All in all the procedure took about an hour, two phone calls and four walks across campus, all of which could have been prevented if the admittedly friendly administrative people I met along the way had given me the right information, let alone if OASIS had shown me the holds in advance.

If this had been the first time something like this had occurred, I would have just shrugged it off, but it wasn’t. Similar things happen almost every semester.

Enough students I’ve talked to since then have gone through similar experiences. And while horror stories told by students of times long past who registered by standing in line in person show that there have been improvements since USF was founded, there are still quite a few snags in the system that routinely trip students.

At least I’ll have half a year before I have to register again, although I probably could use the workout.

Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in geography and an Oracle Opinion editor.