Making the phone king for a day

By The Columbia Chronicle

Billy O’Keefe

Viewpoints Editor

I’ve always found columnists to be a funny breed. Commonly, they storm onto the job thinking they can, and will, change everything about the world — gravitational pull included. All they need, they say, is a little fame and prestige, and the world is theirs. Of course, once fame hits, these commentators use their space to bitch about loafers and bran muffins, among other things (if you need proof, watch Andy Rooney on any given Sunday night).

Frankly, I’m already over my change-the-world phase. In a way that scares me, for soon I too will be moaning about bran muffins. But since denial only postpones the inevitable, I will use the short time I have left to address an issue that is actually relevant. If I dip into rants about the quirkiness of sugarless gum, forgive me.

The concept of touch-tone registration is the subject of one of our letters this week, and it deserves further consideration. For those of you accustomed to the long lines and countless destinations that come with registering for classes at Columbia, this provides a more pleasant alternative (much like sugarless gum).

It works like this: On your given registration day, instead of coming to Columbia, you need only pick up your favorite telephone and call the automated registration service. Once you get through (admittedly it may take a few attempts), you simply identify yourself via a social security number and pin, punch in the classes you want using the schedule codes, and before your bread is even buttered, you’re all finished. No more long trips to Columbia just to drop a class. No more violent fits in the bursar’s office. No more falling down the stairs and crashing into a line of already impatient students, possibly killing a few on the way down. Those problems, my clumsy, angry friends, are a thing of the past.

And for those of you who long for that human touch but can’t get a date, you will benefit as well; assistants are still there to help, and with more people going to the phones, more of this assistance is available. Less work and stress for them means better service for you.

I went to DePaul for two years, and while my physics professor was nothing to write home about, the touch-tone registration was a huge convenience. If you lived far away, you made sure to write home about it — it’s just that great. There’s no reason Columbia College and its students and faculty shouldn’t benefit from such a service as well.

We would like to hear your comments on touch-tone registration: Are you for such a service at Columbia, or do you think it’s not worth it? Send e-mail to and give us your comments. We’ll print a follow-up with the results in the coming weeks.