EDITORIAL: Change is good and new records system shows it…but growing pains could have been mitigated

Jacob L'Hommedieu, Op/Ed Editor

Editor’s Note: The editorial board could not come to a consensus on the subject. Therefore, two editorials are running representing the split opinions of the staff.

Change is good and the new records system shows it

Change is inevitable. Nothing can and will exist in its current state indefinitely. Just like how the sun sets on every day, an end must eventually come. When change does happen, there are bound to be growing pains as we move from one method of action to the next. That is just a reality of life, and the new LORA Self-Service system helps prove that.
Late last year, Loyola implemented the new LORA system that allowed students to update their classes, schedules, and other personal information more easily. Built off of the cloud-based software Colleague developed by Ellucian, the new system allows students to access their info on any device at any time. Not only that, but students are freely able to update their schedules until the cutoff date. On the old system, the ability to create and update your schedule was only available during certain windows of certain days. Of course, there have been hiccups along the way, and it would be disingenuous not to recognize that fact. However, it is also important to recognize how far we’ve come.
The old LORA system was first launched in 1979 and much like other technologies from the 1970s like the floppy disk, it didn’t exactly age well. The antique code was a mess, making everything overcomplicated, and it ran much slower than what you would reasonably expect from a system tasked with managing a university.
The new LORA, on the other hand, has much cleaner code reflecting a 21st century university and operates at a much faster pace. Also, the method for adding and dropping classes has been simplified to a substantial degree. Now, editing your course list is just a button click away. That is just one way that the new LORA system is helping to give students more control of their schedules and making the overall process less stressful.
Along with the new improvements to the way we are able to schedule classes, we are able to edit our user profiles to match our preferred names, genders, and pronouns. The old system made it difficult to change these things in order to reflect who we are, while the new system allows all students’ identities to be movable time, which we applaud. The new records system has already proven its key draw of user-friendliness to be true in this regard.
Not every sunset is perfect, though, and the new system is far from it. Between false charges being doled out and past financial aid information being lost, a lot has happened to stain the new system’s ledger. But the system’s flaws don’t justify students and parents taking their frustrations out on company employees.
For a company like Ellucian, with their Colleague system being utilized by more than 650 organizations both nationally and internationally, they would need multiple departments to manage different specialized tasks in order to keep itself running efficiently. Because of that, it’s highly doubtful that the people in the customer service department have anything to do with dealing with whatever is going on on the coding and software development side of things. They are people, too, and they deserve to be given that basic level of respect.
If there is one thing to take away from all of this, it is that change must always occur. It can be painful or it can be relatively easy. The fact of the matter is that it will happen, no matter what. The new LORA may have issues, but it still provides our community a means of better managing our school life. Let the sun set and take advantage of it.

But growing pains could have been mitigated

Despite all that can be said for necessary change, it doesn’t mean that all of the pains that have resulted from this sudden growth of LORA Self-Service was necessary, as well. It wouldn’t be fair to lump all of the blame on Loyola, seeing how they had an obligation to replace 40-year-old software. However, valid complaints need to be aired, so we are able to recognize what went wrong and how issues like the ones listed below are mitigated and avoided in the future.

For starters, we turn back to parents and students calling about their frustrations with the new system. Yes, yelling at someone who probably has very little control over the system as a whole is a bad thing. But what caused them to reach this point? The most common answer someone would probably give is having charges on their financial accounts that don’t make any sense. The most prolific of these false charges appear to be students living off campus being charged for a room they do not live in.

The unfortunate part about this situation is that there may be no one, technically, at fault. The new system may have just bugged out due to how fast it was implemented both at the end of last year and the beginning of this one. Which leaves another question: could Loyola have spent more time building us up to the system’s implementation?

Part of the complaints that have been tossed Loyola’s way regarding the new records system come from the school’s staff itself. According to some, there was barely anything in the way of training for the new system, and the one provided on Canvas was a lackluster excuse for it. Yes, the new system is substantially simpler than the previous one. That does not mean there is going to be no whiplash from the changeover. The average person does not have the technological know-how to be able to switch from one software to another without being left confused by what is different.

But, at least, the new system is in place and it seems to be working now. Sure, there were a couple hiccups at the beginning and maybe giving both the developers and staff more time to deal with issues would have been better. We can’t win them all, you know? It’s not like Loyola had 40 years to fix it? Oh, wait. They did.

What took them so long? Perhaps, it has been some internal struggle going on since 1979, that caused a slowdown of development to happen. Maybe it was a lack of funding to actually acquire a new software, and it was simply cheaper to keep using the same one. Datatel, the original company that developed Colleague, only became Ellucian in 2012 after merging with a different company. Maybe business was impossible with them until after the merger?

Whatever the case, it is right to recognize how good it is that change has finally happened. It is also right to recognize how much unnecessary strife was caused by how slipshod the change was. Instead of being the sleek new thing that the new LORA is designed to look like, the past couple of weeks have felt more akin to Loyola trying to duct tape a rusty bumper back onto an equally rusty car. 

Thank you, Loyola, but please, do better next time.