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The Daily Tar Heel

Faculty Council committee grants priority registration requests for fall

There is a common misconception that student athletes can “cherry-pick” their schedules to get the most desired classes at coveted times.

But members of the group that grants priority registration requests say that is not true.

The priority registration advisory committee, composed of students, faculty and administrators, met Monday to decide which students will receive priority registration for the fall semester.

The group uses the priority registration policy approved by the Faculty Council in 2007, which states that students with unusual challenges inhibiting academic success can receive priority registration.

This includes participation in activities that represent the University but occur during class times, degree programs that require at least one semester off campus and students with disabilities.

At Monday’s meeting, the committee approved 832 requests for priority registration from 29 groups — representing less than 5 percent of UNC’s 18,000 undergraduate students.

Chairman of the committee and University registrar Christopher Derickson said students who are granted priority registration typically choose classes that do not conflict with their extracurricular activities, or that are necessary for their major.

Students are not permitted to apply directly to the registrar for priority registration. They must be a member of a group and have a sponsor.

Derickson said students with priority registration are able to register for classes at either 8 a.m. or 8:15 a.m. on their scheduled registration date.

The Faculty Council recommended in the policy that no more than 15 percent of seats in each section be available via priority registration.

Derickson said that rule is followed for the most part, with some exceptions like recitations, which have a limited number of seats.

The recently completed NCAA investigation into UNC’s football program put student athletes in the spotlight.

History professor Jay Smith, who helped author a statement with other faculty urging UNC to review the role of athletics on campus, said in an email that he has mixed feelings about priority registration for student athletes.

“I hate the signal this policy sends — that we, at Carolina, will bend academic procedures to accommodate certain favored groups of students,” Smith said.

“But I’m also sympathetic to students, such as our overworked athletes, whose course options are strictly limited by extracurricular activities beyond their control.”

The education policy committee plans to meet to review the policy and decide if changes should be made.

Chairwoman of the committee Andrea Biddle said the committee will examine whether there are students who need priority but aren’t receiving it.

“There are perceptions that it’s all athletes, but there are other groups of people who need priority registration,” she said.

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