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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


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    Columnist encapsulated fears of College of Medicine

    I’m a second-year medical student writing in regards to Justin Huggins’ “”Med school shake-up proves not all change is good”” (April 23, 2009). I just wanted to say that it was an excellent article, excellent writing, and us students over here at the College of Medicine truly appreciate its placement into the newspaper. You hit our concerns and fears right on the head and did so in a beautiful, well-written piece; so thank you for that, Justin. Good luck and best wishes on your future in medicine in Pennsylvania. We wish you nothing but the best.

    Jennifer Dais

    second-year medical student

    Co-director shares thoughts on future of WebReg

    As one of the co-directors of the student administration part of the Mosaic project, I would like to respond to Paul Cervantes’ April 23 column, “”The problem with WebReg.”” Paul’s article makes a number of good points that I’d like to remark on.

    First, the problem of appropriately matching the supply of seats in courses to the demand for those seats is a hard one to solve. Airlines have thrown a lot of money at this problem, and they do it pretty well with seats on planes; but sometimes they get it horribly wrong. One simple and unavoidable reason behind this is the long lead times required to support class scheduling and registration – did you know that preparing the class schedule for the fall semester (in August) begins around January/February? A lot might happen in those intervening months that can lead to big problems on the first day of classes. The lead times shorten for the spring term, but only slightly, so there isn’t much relief there, either. Furthermore, scarce resources (budgets), inadequate controls (technology), and the ever-changing availability of instructors to teach and students to learn only increases the difficulty for all the parties concerned.

    PeopleSoft’s Campus Solutions, the product we are installing via the Mosaic project, will actually give colleges and departments a number of tools beyond aesthetics to manage the availability of courses and course seats; some of these tools are the very ones that Paul mentions in his article. By way of example, CS can be configured to enforce prerequisites; it has wait-listing capabilities; seats can be reserved in courses for students who meet various characteristics such as their career, academic program or classification level; it can cap units; and it has a ‘ticketing system’ whereby a specific student can be given permission to enroll in a particular class.

    It’s important for us all to understand, however, that these tools will require some wisdom and experience to wield for the benefit of all. I don’t really want to be dramatic, but when a system enforces prerequisites, or reserve capacities, or enrollment permissions, it enforces them. This enforcement has the potential to be welcome relief for departments which need it, but a nightmare for everybody concerned if this strict enforcement leads to more frustration, manual exception processing, and severe restrictions on choices for students. As an institution, we will have to take some time to tune this new functionality so that we don’t end up turning it off as soon as we enable it.

    CS also has tools to help students select the classes they want to take in current and future semesters, based on their SAPR. This is just the kind of information that a college or department might make use of to anticipate future demand. However, while the availability of course planning tools for students and a central place to store the results make important contributions towards anticipating future demand with more exactness, it’s not a slam dunk by any sense. Intentions of future behavior diverge from actual behavior for all kinds of reasons: existing students leave and new students arrive; students’ interests change; faculty take sabbaticals; department and student cash flows change, etc. Nevertheless, thanks to our new software, we will very soon have the potential to bring to bear some of the creative ideas Paul has shared on this problem.

    Over the course of the next several months, the project teams will be working to understand how best to ‘roll out’ these new tools (along with the rest of the suite’s functionality) in ways that provide, rather than constrain, services, and that maximize the acceptance of our new capabilities, while minimizing our regrets about how we choose to use them. I’m confident, however, that with a little patience and goodwill, we will have a future that will let us do more towards managing classes more effectively than we can at the present.

    Thomas C. Bourgeois, Ph. D.

    co-director, Mosaic Student Administration

    University should take initiative in conservation

    I applaud the UA’s intention to install a solar electric production facility on campus. Yet, the university could reap far greater savings through simple conservation. For example, at the La Aldea dorm, over 100 exterior lights burn 24 hours a day. There are over 40 exterior night lights at the Udall center buildings to light the porches of two small buildings. I spent a year dealing with administrators trying to get the La Aldea lights turned off during the day, to no avail. In the early 1990s, the UA reduced lighting levels in classrooms by 50 percent. I think they should make another effort to become a leader in energy conservation.

    Bruce Hilpert

    Tucson resident

    Mock Trial team deserves praise, not condemnation

    As a 2003 graduate of the UA James E. Rogers College of Law, and head coach of Mock Trial at the UA, I was honored that the Daily Wildcat featured our team on the front page last week. I was dismayed, however, to read a letter to the editor attacking the club’s ability on April 21. What “”Mike Harmon”” failed to mention is that name is a character from a former mock trial case. In other words, some individual chose to belittle eight hard-working students without having the courage to offer his or her true name.

    MTUA worked hard this season and played by all the rules. They overcame significant obstacles and earned that spot at the National Championships. While some luck was involved, as it always is, the writer failed to mention that, in a regional, MTUA lost four ballots by a total of 10 points, winning the rest by some 50+. At Nationals, MTUA faced two of the top 8 teams in their division, never losing a ballot by more than 8 out of 140 points. They were in Iowa because they deserved to be. They should be honored, not attacked.

    Casey McGinley

    UA alumnus

    Majority of Americans choose to support Israel

    In response to Gabriel Schivone’s April 21 column, Schivone has an obviously anti-Israel stance and chooses to vent his bias by suggesting students (and faculty?), take action in protesting UA investment(s) in both Motorola and Caterpillar. A pity that the author chooses to ignore the threat posed to Israel, (the region’s only democratic entity), by the surrounding nations that have repeatedly called for the destruction and end of Israel.

    I have news for Mr. Schivone: most Americans recognize the true nature of the conflict and choose to support our only true friend in the area -ÿIsrael. Whatever equipment that may have been put to use, (manufactured either by Motorola and/or Caterpillar), by Israel, in her struggle to survive in a sea of Arab hostility is warranted, and appreciated by the majority of Americans.

    Les Cherow

    Flagstaff resident

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