New SPAC system puts an expiration date on course enrollment

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As students begin preferencing courses for fall 2014, they may face additional challenges when enrolling in courses with a Special Course Access Code (SPAC).
 SPACs are unique codes issued to students by professors allowing those students to enroll in a course previously unavailable to them. Those codes will now include an expiration date.
The change was originally outlined in a white paper passed by DePauw Student Government in 2012. According to student body president Walker Chance, who was a first-year senator when the paper was initially passed, the white paper’s purpose was to make the course registration system fair for all students, while limiting the number of students who take advantage of the system by ‘sitting on SPACs,’ or not using them once they are assigned.
“Sometimes students absolutely need to be in a class, but there are no SPACs left,” Chance said. “If the professor is not willing to make a wait list, a student has to wait until class scheduling and course changes go into effect on the first weeks of classes.”
The white paper suggestions were reviewed by the Registrar’s Office, which began outlining changes shortly thereafter.
“We probably should have made them [the changes] a lot sooner,” said DePauw Registrar Ken Kirkpatrick. “When we talked with the students who wrote the white paper, we realized the issue was a lot bigger than we originally thought.”
The new system will offer email confirmation for students, and it will keep class sizes under the university set limit, according to Kirkpatrick. Under the old system, a SPAC issued by a professor could be used even if the course was full following the course requests phase.
The new system also allows instructors to track how many SPACs they have issued. This alleviates the need for professors to track the number of students and SPACs in each course they teach.
The new system, which took over two years to develop, is now live. Many students who have begun using the updated system are pleased with the changes.
“Overall I’m satisfied with it,” said first-year Claire Halffield. “[The new system] seems like it will help myself and other students get the courses we need.”
Kirkpatrick states that he has received positive feedback from professors, and he believes the new system will be a positive shift forward. He says instructors are hopeful for the changes.
Despite the initial positive reaction, Kirkpatrick advises students to look closely at the expiration dates and other communication they receive from his office as well as the system.
“That SPAC culture was very, very engrained.” Kirkpatrick said. “[Some students] get that ‘use by’ email and [will] probably ignore that and they won’t use the SPAC and find out it is expired.”
Kirkpatrick advises students to take the time to read the material before preferencing courses, and know how long each SPAC is good for to ensure their course schedule is correct when they are released on April 28.