Tuesday, April 29, 2008


[Lifted up to the top today for the update at the bottom]

So: the administration has responded to the Telebears "scandal" (see comments for full email).

Key quote: "Modifications will be made, beginning with the Spring 2009 iteration of Tele-BEARS, so that the appointments are assigned in a more randomized fashion."

First: Congrats Patrick, you've single-handedly taken down a system that has existed since 2003 within 24-hours of you wielding your sword.

Second: What does everyone think now?


UPDATE: the school's student paper has picked up the story.  More specifics on what happened, as well as the school's [lack of] reaction, can be found here.

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Blogger tj said...

Forwarded on behalf of the UC Office of the Registrar:

Based on the informal Boalt Hall survey of Tele-BEARS appointment time assignments, the campus has reviewed the program that assigns appointment times to students. It was learned that the system uses an algorithm based on students' SID numbers and sequential time slots. The assignments were such that some students with older SIDs (i.e., lower in numerical value) generally received earlier appointments than those with newer SIDs. (This has been occurring since 2003, as a byproduct of a major system change; prior to that, the assignments were truly random.) Modifications will be made, beginning with the Spring 2009 iteration of Tele-BEARS, so that the appointments are assigned in a more randomized fashion. This will work toward ensuring a more fair and equitable distribution of appointment time slots to all students. Thank you for your commitment on this issue.

4/24/2008 3:29 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I think another survey will be in order. I don't trust that registrar as far as I can throw him.

4/24/2008 3:32 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Thanks for filling out the survey, folks. That was why this worked.

We should do another one in the fall (or at least threaten loudly.

In the meantime I'll look into that class in survey design.

4/24/2008 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it was interesting they said "more random" instead of just random.

4/24/2008 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've very suspicious of the qualifications:

"Modifications will be made [...] so that the appointments are assigned in a more randomized fashion."

"This will work toward ensuring a more fair and equitable distribution..."

4/24/2008 3:40 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

. . . . something not mentioned in the email, but of note, is that the problem wasn't just with us, but with every single graduate school on the campus. Ouch.

4/24/2008 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Booo!! Now I won't neccessarily have an early registration time slot.

4/24/2008 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how it's going to take a full year to fix this. I will be gone by the time this benefits anyone. Oh well!

But good job, Patrick. Way to (maybe) take down the proverbial man.

4/24/2008 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chancellor Birgeneau? Is that you?

I wonder what my WOA TA would say about the use of passive voice in that email.

4/24/2008 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was an undergrad, one of my profs in a business class taught us that passive voice is used to deflect responsibility. It makes it sounds like no one in particular f*ed up. So there you have it.

4/24/2008 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we try to have some posts about BOALT for once?

4/24/2008 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4/24/2008 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Modifications will be made, beginning with the Spring 2009 iteration of Tele-BEARS, so that the appointments are assigned in a more randomized fashion."

So does this mean that our registration for Spring 2009 classes will be in a "more randomized fashion" or registration DURING Spring 2009 (for Fall 2009 classes)?

Also, does anyone know if this will mean that it will break down by class at all (1-L v. 2-L) or just a free for all?

4/24/2008 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What, no mention of N&B in the admin email?! An "informal Boalt Hall survey" turned this up? Um, OK. Am I crazy, or does that sound like these lazy public employees are pretending THEY figured shit out? As opposed to a private amateur blog.

Being a 3L, I could care less about the changes. But the publicity -- man, that just hurts.

4/24/2008 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about all those students who for years were stiffed with a bad time, losing out on classes and opportunities? Is this just my hyperactive lawyer's instinct, or can we sue?
How many times has the issue of the system being rigged been raised and strongly denied?

4/24/2008 5:04 PM  
Blogger tj said...

4:35 - please refrain from using unapproved names for our institution.


4/24/2008 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This email is loads of fun.

"The assignments were such that some students with older SIDs generally received earlier appointments than those with newer SIDs."

Some students generally received?


4/24/2008 5:37 PM  
Blogger Mike M said...

I'm very tempted to call the Registrar's Office and complain about the tone of this email.

Ultimately, they screwed up. They should take responsibility for their mistake and apologize to students -- not send out some weaselly-worded statement.

4/24/2008 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:04, what would the theory be?

That despite paying the same exorbitant tuition, those of us with late appointments were systematically denied opportunities that were enjoyed by students with early appointments? And thus to the extent we paid our tuition for access to Boalt's world class faculty, we were mislead?

Fraud requires knowledge or intent. Is the last 5 years of well-founded student complaints enough to satisfy "knew or should have known"?

4/24/2008 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be pretty upset if, in registering for spring '09, after finally reaching the exalted status of a 2d semester 3L, I can't get into a class because the 1Ls have earlier times than I do.

4/24/2008 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The irony is that I suspect the lack of contrition in the email is closely related to the fear of a lawsuit.

4/24/2008 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:42 Mike M,
I AGREE. What I find even more entertaining is that EVERY time this has been brought up in a town hall or meeting with a Dean, the standard ROUTINE answer is "we looked into it, it's random." I even think Dean Shelanski said "we've had statisticians look at it."

Well, looks like Patrick and N&B looked at it too.... and now see what happened.

4/24/2008 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:49p, whoever you are, I appreciate the use of selective all-caps.

And no, I'm not being ironic.

4/25/2008 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet the Class of 2007 wouldn't have had 100% participation in the class campaign if this had come to light a year ago...

4/25/2008 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


[Not to take away from Patrick's survey, which got the ball finally rolling] but really, the correlation btw SID and appointment times was hard to miss. This, combined with 5 years of student questions/complaints and faculty denials, suggests a reckless disregard of the truth.

The school's response is lame. The only "fair" resolution would be to at least reverse the order - whereby students with high SIDs would get earlier rankings.

4/25/2008 10:47 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

affirmative action!

4/25/2008 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found the letter inadequate. I'm still waiting for an apology--from the lower campus registrar, and from our deans who took so long to go to bat for us. Admitting the problem and fixing it are nice steps, but we need an apology.

4/25/2008 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Please leave your sense of entitlement at home next time.

4/25/2008 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:22 - I don't take 10:55 comments as sense of entitlement. It isn't like I'm getting a Boalt education out of the goodness of the school's heart. I pay for it. And for that reason I treat it pretty much like any other service I purchase.

That said, I don't really care for an apology. Because it won't make up for the fact that I have had to miss out on classes in high demand because (to quote W) "mistakes have been made". I would like some concrete action taken to make up for my losses, and to correct the problem now. I don't see any reason to wait for another year instead of adjusting the current bidding process.

4/25/2008 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for your kind words. I think you misunderstand me if you believe my request for an apology stems simply from a "sense of entitlement." Although you may have a good point that Boalt students are indeed "entitled" to a registration process that is transparent and that distributes burdens and benefits evenly.

I don't think the flawed registration process was the result of some sort of maniacal plan by the administration; clearly, it was an honest mistake. But an honest mistake that disadvantages some while advantaging others still deserves an apology. This is especially true when it's a mistake that has been brought to the administration's attention many times (most recently at January's 3L Town Hall Meeting) and largely ignored.

For those of us who are graduating next month, we'll never see the fruits of a fair registration system. I don't think an apology is especially demanding; a simple "we're sorry" would suffice. It would be nice if the administration acknowledged that the previous system caused a lot of unnecessary frustration for a lot of students.


4/25/2008 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:04 - Please reassure me that you were kidding about suing. I don't even know what to say about that suggestion. Your "lawyer's instinct" is messed up.

4/25/2008 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is a sense of entitlement to be found, I think it belongs to the administration.

Students have asked about registration times for years. The administration never took the 20 minutes it would have taken to check what was going on. The administration only responded once it had been "caught." Add to this the constant tuition increases, poor teacher evaluation system, inadequate course offerings (without which registration times wouldn't matter), removal of student organizations from the building, alleged poor registrar performance (I have no experience in this area but it seems to come up a lot), and enablement of extortionate bookstore pricing.

Then, on top of all of this, the administration expects us to love our school and open our wallets as 3Ls and alumni? That sounds more like an entitlement complex than expecting the administration to own up to its mistakes.

4/25/2008 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:19, If you don't know what to say, then why are you posting? And, thanks for the very constructive commentary. I sleep better at night knowing people like you keep public discussion professional.

4/25/2008 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are a true legal scholar. You somehow managed to shirk a sense of entitlement while simultaneously suggesting you 'deserve' an apology. You have mastered the art of talking out of both sides of your mouth at once. Congratulations.

4/25/2008 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:21, there's no need to be sarcastic about this. I think 1:06/10:55 is right, and doesn't say that only "he/she" deserves an apology, but that we all do. Seriously, after blowing us off about this for years, and even saying "You're wrong and we've looked into it," the least the administration/deans/registrar can do is say "We apologize." What is infuriating is having them ignore this issue for so long and then make it sound like a surprise.

Patrick, thanks for your survey. I wish the administration had done one of their own when we first brought this up. I won't benefit from the change, but thanks for sticking up for us.

4/25/2008 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few thoughts...

First, I just realized that not only did non-Berkeley undergrad applicants get screwed on registration times, but also those of us from out of state were paying higher tuition (at least during 1L year, if not for longer) for classes that we often didn't want to be in. Interesting.

Second, while I do think we deserve an apology from the main campus registrar, I'm not that annoyed that we have not gotten one from our own registrar and deans. Unless they are lying to us, they did take the student complaints at least somewhat seriously b/c they asked the main campus registrar if our times were truly random. The campus registrar told them yes. I can kind of understand why the deans didn't do more. There's some awkwardness in basically telling your fellow UC employees "well, we think you're lying to us, so prove it." I know that some of you are thinking "well, they basically told students that they thought we were full of it," but try to understand that all they had to go off of was a few complaints over the years. Even in a truly random system, it would makes sense that a few people would get repeatedly screwed.

Still, I admit that it would be nice if our own registrar and deans apologized for not looking into it more, but I can cut them more slack than I can the main campus for lying to us all these years.

4/25/2008 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Put your words to action, then. Email him and indicate that the main campus cannot just shield accountability. The individual's email is:

(read out loud)

4/26/2008 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speak for yourself, 8:01. I am a loyal UC applicant; I applied to UC-Berkeley as an undergrad though was rejected (and have a low SID because of it). At least I don't feel like it was such a waste of time and money now!

4/26/2008 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we should put that in our admissions brochure, 11:38--only come to Berkeley Law if you were truly "loyal" and applied to go to undergrad here! Screw our national reputation, let's just fill up the classes with CA kids. We already fill up the good ones with them, apparently.

4/26/2008 1:55 PM  
Blogger MRP said...

More shoddy journalism by the Daily Cal, what a surprise. Way to go kids, thanks for not mentioning this survey had anything to do with Patrick or any other student.

4/29/2008 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone think that the registrar's comment was a bit b*tchy?

"I do know there were complaints in the past but nothing was behind them"

ACTUALLY, there was something behind them.

4/29/2008 3:02 PM  
Blogger tj said...

3:02 - I thought that exact same thing. I haven't had too many bad encounters with that office. But, with comments like that, it's hard to dispute the existence of a pervasive lack of respect/understanding/work ethic/etc from that office.

If this weren't a public institution with public employees, heads would roll. Possibly not for the initial screw-up - but most definitely for attitudes like that.

4/29/2008 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"nothing was behind them" = "they did not conclusively and publicly prove that we were wrong so we ignored them without investigating"

4/29/2008 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think both meanings are plausible. Depends on how it was said. Could have been phrased better for sure.

4/29/2008 8:22 PM  

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