Columbia’s a mess of bureaucracy. We all know that. You even have to deal with bureaucracy online – think class registration. Open SSOL. Open the Directory of Classes. Open the Bulletin. Open CULPA. Flip back and forth like mad as you try to correlate classes between the directory and SSOL and the Bulletin, check up on their teachers on Culpa, and register for what’s (hopefully) the right class. It’s insane. And it’s why the recent changes to various administrative websites are a big, promising step in the right direction. Bwog Techonology Specialist Mark Holden brings you a discussion of some of the changes that have been made, and what direction future changes need to take.

hlthsrvcsHealth Services

The Health Services website has moved into the 21st century in multiple ways: the design is nice and aesthetic, and now it’s possible to schedule an appointment online. I mean, that’s sort of a “d’oh!” feature these days in the world of e-commerce and social networking, but at least now they’ve got it.


The previous incarnation of SSOL was starting to show its age, and while the new SSOL design is pretty snazzy, unfortunately the design is about all that’s different. The underlying software remains as counterintuitive and difficult to use as it’s always been. Admittedly, it’d be more work for Columbia to overhaul SSOL from the ground up, but damn, the system needs it. The changes to SSOL so far amount to taking an old lemon of a car, repainting it, and failing to repair the engine. While they’re nice, they’re not enough – we need a complete overhaul.

directoryDirectory of Classes

Nothing has changed. Everything needs to change. The directory of classes is so unprofessional looking that when I first encountered it as an almost-freshman, I immediately clicked away thinking that it was an outdated resource. I’d imagine I wasn’t the only one. Look at it! Look!!! Look at that logo! Read it straight across like a normal human being and look what it says: “Directory University Columbia of Classes.” Disturbingly poor design on the part of a multi-billion dollar university. Worthless!

neuroNeuroscience Department (

Snazzy layout, and you can register online to participate in research studies (i.e. answer questions for pizza money)! Everybody wins.

Environmental Stewardship

Columbia has a stylish new website devoted to saving the world. It provides in easily-comprehensible format lots of resources for environmentally concerned students, such as info on “green computing” and “reduce, reuse, recycle.” It looks promising both for the environment, in terms of the content it presents, and the people that might want more info, in terms of usability and design.

What needs to happen

The current registration system is a disgrace. It’s the most back-asswards, confusing, unmanageable registration system on the face of the earth. SSOL, the directory of classes, and the bulletin currently are three distinct entities, when really they should be linked together so that students can easily read about classes and major requirements from within SSOL and then with one click register for the right class. The present system is awkward, unwieldy, and confusing, an outmoded dinosaur from the early days of the internet that somehow hasn’t yet expired. It’s about time it were scrapped.