This week, CCSC hosted GSSC representatives to talk about ongoing problems with course search and registration, and a potential upcoming proposal for a new platform. 

Happy almost-Thanksgiving break!

This week’s CCSC meeting briefly focused on events and updates before quickly moving into a presentation by two GSSC representatives, who talked about Vergil and course search as an impediment to our academic success, and presented a proposal for changes.

GSSC President Nasser Odetallah, GS ‘25, and GSSC VP Policy Savanah Shulkin, GS ‘24, started by walking through the history of Vergil as a platform, and course search at Columbia in general. This includes Vergil (the course search platform Columbia used as recently as last spring), Vergil (the new homepage of SSOL), and Vergil (the new course search platform implemented this summer/fall). Not confusing at all. (I would like to put a side note here that Virgil, sometimes spelled Vergil, is Dante’s guide through Hell in the Inferno.) 

Odetallah and Shulkin also noted that the two current/new Vergils are incredibly recent developments, and only came after GSSC and the other student councils began serious research into the old Vergil and started to bring these issues up to the Senate, faculty, and staff. 

They ultimately have three main goals: to improve the quality of Vergil as a technological platform, to increase access to course reviews during registration, and to increase access to syllabi in general and particularly during registration. They argued, convincingly, that accessible and consistent course search is necessary for academic success and a fulfilling education: in the current system, students register for whatever classes they can get into, not the ones they might actually want or need to take. 

The solution they presented, CourseLeaf, is an external vendor, but one that CC and GS already use for their academic bulletins, and one that Penn, Yale, and Brown currently use for course search. They hope to present a proposal to the University Senate, and to bring these concerns to the attention of faculty, who are currently unaware of many of these problems, and think that their syllabi are readily available to students during registration. In the next few days, they will send a full written statement to CCSC, who will vote on whether or not to co-sign, and from there the petition will make its way to the Senate and to other administrators.

While that was the main focus of the meeting, members also presented their typical weekly updates. Some particularly important ones:

  • Tree lighting on College Walk on November 30th!
  • There are ongoing conversations about long-term changes to deadlines and procedures for P/D/F-ing classes, following the changes this semester. 
  • The next Lerner Pub event for seniors will now be on December 7th with an ugly sweater theme (I’m obsessed).

See you after break! Hug your pets! Get some rest! 

Image via Bwog Staff