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Classroom reservation delays Updated Astra system to be available in Brownsville soon

A software system that reserves classrooms is being upgraded so that departments on the Brownsville campus will be able to access it in the “next couple of days,” officials say.

Astra is a computer software program that was used by legacy institutions UT Brownsville and UT Pan American and is being used by UTRGV.

Some departments in Brownsville, however, are experiencing difficulty making classroom reservations through the Astra system.

“It’s been more difficult for us to identify which rooms are available for us and which are not,” Learning Center Associate Director Arlene Ready said. “We have to wait for another party to let us know if the rooms are available or not. So, it’s just more of a delay in room and space identification than it was before.”

Judy Moreno, administrative assistant for the Learning Center, told The Rider that in the past, she would log in to Astra through the UT Brownsville website, input the room reservation details and receive a confirmation the same day. Now, she has to email the Registrar’s office on the Edinburg campus with requests for rooms based on tutoring session needs for the department.

“Now that we are in late October, it’s probably taking about two days,” Moreno said. “At the beginning of the semester, it was taking about three weeks.”

The Learning Center said the delay might be due to the fact that departments in Edinburg handling the requests might not be familiar with the space available on the Brownsville campus.

“If somebody who is not from this campus is in charge of reserving rooms, they might not be familiar with the spaces that we have,” Ready said. “It’s kind of a little disconnect but I’m sure that this is being worked on.  I would assume that this is being worked on.”

In an email to The Rider last Tuesday, Chief Real Estate and Space Management Officer Marco Saenz explained that organizations may reserve a room through each legacy institution’s website:  http://astra.utb.edu/Astra/Portal/GuestPortal.aspx for the Brownsville campus and https://schedule7.utpa.edu/Schedule7/Portal/GuestPortal.aspx for the Edinburg campus.

However, some staff on the Brownsville campus say only meeting rooms, not classrooms, can be reserved through the UTB portal.

“If you submit anything through [UTB’s] Astra … and it’s a classroom or considered a classroom, you’ll get a rejection saying, ‘You need to make this request through the Registrar’s office,’” said Estela Martinez, program director for Engaged Scholarship and Learning.

Student Activities Director Cindy Mata said the problem is getting space on the Brownsville campus.

“We get told there is a deadline to submit,” Mata said. “We submit it as much as we can, but for events past October, we don’t really know what the process is. We’re in the middle of trying to find out so we can prepare and let the student [organizations] know.”

Isai Ramirez, associate chief information officer-business relationships, said the upgraded Astra system is already available to the most “critical administrators and that’s the Registrar’s Office.”

Asked when staff on the Brownsville campus will get access to the upgraded Astra system, Ramirez replied: “Those requests are already in progress right now. So, it should be a matter of days before they get their access.”

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