Days before the first scheduled meeting of JOMC 447, “International Media Studies,” students received an email from Sharon Jones, the director of Student Services and Assessment in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, saying the class would never meet.
The mix-up was due to a miscommunication between people in the School of Journalism and the Office of the Registrar. After the professor of the class, Richard Cole, decided last semester that he wanted to devote time to his other obligations, he contacted leaders in the School of Journalism to request that it be removed from the class listings on ConnectCarolina. However, the request wasn’t processed by the Office of the Registrar, and students were still allowed to enroll in the class, said Chris Roush, senior associate dean of the journalism school.
“Unfortunately, the Registrar’s office did not do its job. We have emails showing that they would take care of it, but obviously they didn’t,” Roush said.
Cole said he is sorry both that the class isn’t being offered and that his students weren’t notified earlier about the cancellation.
“I really regret this. I don’t like for students to think they’re taking a class and then they’re not,” he said.
Despite the last-minute nature of the cancellation, however, students responded well, Cole said.
Chris Partridge, assistant registrar for scheduling, said it’s highly unusual for this sort of miscommunication to occur.
“I can tell you now that the number of mistakes that happen that I am made aware of each semester is maybe two or three out of 10,000 sections that we teach,” Partridge said. “But they do happen. They happen because it’s a big University, and departments aren’t always in contact with the registrar’s office as timely as they should be. Ultimately, it is up to the department to double check to make sure classes aren’t being offered.”
Another mistake this semester landed students in a different class from the one they signed up for on ConnectCarolina.
Sophomore Celia Vitale signed up for the 9 a.m. section of MUSC 286, which listed Celia Ndaliko as the professor for “The Art and Culture of the DJ” on ConnectCarolina. But when the class started Wednesday, Jan. 7, Ndaliko began her first lecture for “Media and Social Change in Africa.”
A mix-up by the music department incorrectly listed Ndaliko’s class about musical movements in Africa as Mark Katz’s class about the history of the disc jockey, which is not being offered this semester.
“She literally said, ‘Pinch me, this is so crazy. I feel like I’m in the wrong class,” Vitale said. “She’s there teaching a completely different class. It was really awkward.”
Louise Toppin, chairwoman of the music department, said the switch was due to a mistake in listing the class.
“An unfortunate error occurred when the course description was loaded into Connect Carolina,” Toppin said in an email statement.
Sophomore Blake Wall also signed up for the incorrectly listed MUSC 286 class. He decided to remain in the class after the switch.
“At first I was a little confused and surprised because I’ve never had this happen before, but I can understand a computer error,” he said.
Partridge said the Office of the Registrar is always there to help students in cases like these who have trouble with class rescheduling and cancellations.
“Ultimately the University has a shared responsibility to make sure that we’re not impacting students’ schedules. We really do. We’re here to serve the students,” he said.
Cole said the faculty and staff of the journalism school would never intentionally damage their strong relationships with the students by randomly canceling a class without a good reason.
“We have very good student records people, and they’re just super ... They look out for the students so much, the students’ welfare,” he said. “The other administrators there are trying their damnedest to do things right.”
Roush said that although the miscommunication could have been avoided, he understands the whole system isn’t perfect.
“Mistakes happen,” he said.
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story mischaracterized the steps Richard Cole took to attempt to cancel his class. Cole contacted leaders in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and asked that they cancel the class. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.