The tradition of ‘crashing’ classes, or begging instructors for permission numbers to enroll in classes, has gone away as the 2018-19 academic year has begun. With the new system, students were automatically added to classes based on their position on the waitlist for the first four days of classes.
If classes have open seats or previously enrolled students drop the class, the next student on the waitlist will be automatically enrolled and emailed a notice saying they have received a spot in the class.
Instead of requiring a permission number for the entire add/drop period, a permission number is only needed in the last 4 days to enroll in a class.
The old system was unnecessary and complicated, according to university registrar Cem Sunata. Prior to the switch, only students who understood Polyratings and persistently emailed professors for permission numbers were at an advantage, Sunata said.
“It’s a very inequitable system to incoming students,” Sunata said. “I mean, we get 5,000 freshmen coming in and they have no idea.”
Before 2015, Cal Poly gave first registration to students based on a rotation of last names, which allowed for typically successful course crashing. An upperclassman who was last rotation because their last name was “Smith,” for example, could get into the classes they needed by explaining to professors that they needed this class more than sophomores or freshmen.
Now that registration times are based on course progress and seniors automatically get higher priority, the course crashing system became outdated, Sunata said.
Senior standing should not be the only consideration when registering for courses, according to computer engineering junior David Maye, who does not appreciate the new system.
Maye said students who are serious about getting into classes should show up, commit themselves, and get permission numbers.
“If you have people sitting on a waitlist who are going to sit on a waitlist just because, they screw everybody else out of getting on the waitlist who would otherwise be able to get into [the class],” Maye said.
Instructors have the decision of whether or not to drop waitlisted students who do not attend the first day of class.
That was the only question agricultural business professor Tim Delbridge had, who wanted to drop those students but would have to go through the trouble of going through the registrar’s office to do it. Otherwise, he approved of the new system.
“I’m given less control now but it’s actually easier for me because I don’t have to deal with giving permission numbers,” Delbridge said. Delbridge would use the waitlist in the old system to add students to his classes.
Not all professors did.
“The lack of permission numbers is a problem,” architectural engineering professor Brent Nuttall said, who appreciated the ability to decide who needs his class more.
Some professors would not go by need for the class, but by arbitrary decisions.
Business senior Cori Bynum remembers a class where the professor decided who would be allowed in by lining crashing students up and giving spots to those able to throw a crumpled piece of paper into the classroom’s trash can.
“It’s more favorable for people who actually pre-registered for the class,” Bynum said.
Crashing courses was a tradition exclusive to Cal Poly, according to Sunata, who said after checking all other California State Universities and Universities of California that Cal Poly, along with Cal Poly Pomona, was the only university to register that way.
With permission numbers removed for the first four days of classes, the Mustang Success Center has had less complaints related to the waitlist system, according to Sunata.