Our view: A good idea gone awry

They told us it would be more convenient and easy to use. It was supposed to be a way to increase efficiency on the university’s end. For students, it was going to mean a way to secure the privacy of our personal information.

But between registration outages, unnecessary class restrictions and later than normal financial aid reimbursements, all we’ve seen Banner deliver is headaches.

The idea is great: Take one system to combine the many the university used for different activities, ranging from class scheduling to billing to on-campus employment. In the long run, we’re sure this will be more convenient, both for those navigating the site as students and for those who do the back-end work that takes place behind the scenes. Banner also made students’ information more secure, eliminating the need for the use of Social Security numbers as a student’s main identification.

When Banner was launched in October, the system generated a random number identification for every student enrolled at Kent State. Great idea, right? But who remembers the notice sent out by the university informing students of this change? No? You didn’t get one either?

While the administration says the numbers are easy to find on FlashFast, keeping students in the loop might have been a nice idea. How are students supposed to know that their new ID can be found on the “add or drop classes” or “look up classes” tab on FlashFast? It’s unlikely they noticed during class registration – many students were too busy calling the registrar’s office or their college’s secretaries trying to override the non-existent holds Banner created in the class schedule.

Minor annoyances aside, the too-quick application of Banner is causing some potentially serious problems for Kent State students who rely on financial aid for more than just tuition. Normally, Kent State returns financial aid refunds before the start of classes. This semester, the university is more than a week behind its typical schedule. While Kent State is still in line when it comes to federal requirements, this may cause more than just an inconvenience for some of the students who were planning on having that refund before classes began.

The refunds from loans and scholarships are how some students pay for rent, textbooks and food. And at a working-class college such as Kent State, those students are hardly the minority.

This wouldn’t be as large of a problem if the university had warned students of the possible delay before break began. Students could have saved some money from gifts, asked parents for a temporary loan or worked a few extra hours. By waiting until there was already a problem, the university made it so students couldn’t plan ahead. Now, many are stuck waiting, eating Ramen noodles and hoping their professors don’t quiz them on the reading until they can cash that refund check and hit the stores.

The technological problems are a pain, but the real issue is how Kent State is treating its students. They’re apologizing now, but they must have had an idea of all these potential glitches in the first year – Would it have taken so much to at least give us a clue in advance, rather than leave us wondering?

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.