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A problem with the computer system that gives Sonoma State University upperclassmen priority in registering for classes was discovered last week, potentially delaying the graduations of at least several dozen seniors.

Seniors registering for fall 2013 classes were not given priority by the number of units they had, as in previous years, said SSU spokeswoman Susan Kashack.

In the past, SSU's registration software sorted students by both class and number of units taken. This meant students who were further along in their education had first shot at classes they needed, said Kashack.

The problem also occurred during the registration period last semester, but the school was not aware of the problem until students complained during the current class registration period, said Kashack.

"Everybody's really upset," said Rachel DeLeon, a senior majoring in biology. "We had no classes to register for, (and) we're all on the wait list."

The university reportedly found the software glitch Thursday and expects no problems for the next registration period.

Kashack said the university will continue to review classes with large wait lists and work to open up new sections.

DeLeon said she will no longer be able to graduate on time because she was unable to get into the final two classes she needs for degree completion, an issue she believes is the result of both the system registration problem and budget cuts within the department.

"If students are unable to graduate on time, it's not a result of the registration problem," said Kashack. "It's a result of budget cuts and departments are not given enough money for classes."

Anthony Gallino, the executive vice president of the Associate Student Body, agrees the budget cuts are the primary constraint.

"The registration issue distracts from the real issue at hand which is that the university wasn't able to provide all the classes because of budget cuts," said Gallino. "It's unfortunate these students weren't able to get the classes, but it's indicative of the cuts to each particular school or department."

SSU senior Jordan Sayre has 150 units and wasn't able to get into the final class he needs to graduate. Sayre discovered the problem when a student who had only 90 units had been able to get into the same class ahead of him.

"There's normally not enough space in classes, but this is more of a system error than a class availability issue," said Sayre.

DeLeon has compiled a list of nearly 40 people who had problems with registration and within that list are 20 seniors who say their graduation dates were affected by the problem. A Facebook group started over the issue had received 229 likes as of Friday.

Senior Teresa Hurtabo transferred into SSU from Santa Rosa Junior College in 2011 and was supposed to graduate this month. Because of trouble getting into other classes, she won't walk this month.

Hurtabo tried to register for her remaining three classes in the fall, but couldn't get in. The classes are only offered in the fall, and if she doesn't get in she would have to wait until spring 2015 to walk or change her major's concentration.

"Staying an extra semester means more money and my scholarships are only for two or three years so I'm not going to have money for fall 2014 classes," said Hurtabo. "I also have to stay full-time in order to keep my scholarships."

Press Democrat Poll

What type of warning did you receive about last October’s fires? (Multiple responses allowed)

Official alert on my landline: 5 percent

Official alert on my cellphone: 17 percent

Neighbor warned me: 14 percent

Family member or friend warned me: 28 percent

Police or fire came to my home to warn me: 5 percent

None: 43 percent

Don’t know: 1 percent

In the future, how would you like to be notified about a fire or other impending disaster?

Phone call: 31 percent

Text message: 30 percent

Email: 1 percent

Air raid siren: 28 percent

Other (specify): 7 percent

Don’t know: 3 percent

Do you think Sonoma County is more prepared today to warn you about fires or disasters than it was last year?

Yes: 54 percent

No: 31 percent

Don’t know: 15 percent

SOURCE: The Press Democrat Poll/David Binder Research

University Provost Andrew Rogerson said the school plans to open up several classes in the coming weeks to help alleviate some of the problem.

"Because of budget cuts we are sort of micromanaging (which) can be frustrating for students, but their concerns seem to be exaggerated," said Rogerson.

Both Kashack and Gallino encouraged students to have faith in the university and wait for them to resolve some of the issues with classes.

"One of the things students need to keep in mind is to be accommodating to the university as they sort this out," said Gallino. "But students do need to monitor their accounts and remain vigilant to see if courses open up as the university continues to try and accommodate."

DeLeon acknowledged staff is working to solve the problems she's having with her classes, but still remained concerned.

"The bottom line for all of this is we do not have the budget for the classes that students need to graduate in four years," said Kashack. "But we believe students are getting classes they need to graduate, and students will be getting more opportunities than it may have first appeared."

Staff Writer Melody Karpinski can be reached at 521-5205 or Melody.Karpinski@pressdemocrat.com

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