Image by Leticia Luna, Managing Editor

September 6, 2021

by Gretchen Zimmerman

Students revealed at a Zoom listening session hosted by Merritt College that they’d found the enrollment process to be far from straightforward, a problem that administrators and faculty assured students they would work to improve. 

Merritt students were invited to the August 31st session to share their experiences with the revamped enrollment/registration system and to make any other comments (positives and suggestions for the future) about classes, textbooks, etc., so that staff can make adjustments moving forward and ultimately improve students’ experiences enrolling and registering for classes. 

The session, which saw a total of 55 participants, was facilitated by Merritt President Dr. David M. Johnson, Co-Chair of Arts Department and Communication Hilary Atman, Vice President of Instruction Dr. Denise Richardson and a handful of other administrators. 

During the session, one student described the enrollment process as Kafkaesque, stating that “Every semester I have a really hard time just registering and enrolling in classes. … It just seems very unclear what to push to actually get to the course that you want.” The student expressed concern that a difficult enrollment process puts the future of the Peralta College district at risk, especially during this time of COVID when online enrollment is essential.

Dean of Enrollment Services Ree’shemah Thornton assured students who had problems that they are aware of the challenges, not only at Merritt but districtwide. “We are definitely dedicated to looking at the entire enrollment process from the student’s perspective, and are working to see where we can make those changes. … as we’re trying to fix those (challenges) we’re just trying to make sure we have support services to help walk you through that as well.”

Merritt Counselor Stefani de Vito said she deals with these frustrations every day. She directed students to the District IT Office’s how-to videos for adding and dropping classes, and to the Merritt College Welcome Center page: “They will share their screen with you during online drop in Zoom hours and actually show you ‘click this, click this, add this, press this.” 

The Student portal runs on Oracle’s PeopleSoft software suite. The most recent update over the Presidents Day Holiday in February made the software more secure and “mobile-ready”. Phase two of the upgrade, and a possible third phase reported by The Citizen here, have not yet been scheduled.

Toward the end of the meeting, Dr. Johnson requested student feedback on Merritt’s new mission statement, which leads with “Merritt College puts students first.”. If you wish to reach out to Dr. Johnson, email him at [email protected] 

Apart from technology concerns, a student mentioned that someone in the Merritt Alternative Media center declined her request for reasonable accommodations. The student filed a grievance, and in the process discovered that “… systemic racism was high and present in our institution in the souls and bodies and minds of some of our professors, employees (and) college staff..” 

Dr. Johnson replied that he’s committed to contesting any incident or sentiment that can be reasonably deemed as racist, and will follow up with the student in a private message.

Resources to help with the Peralta Student Portal can be found by: