Portney’s Complaint

Portneys Complaint

Portney’s Complaint

Devon Portney

As many of us prepare for our graduation a few months away, we stumble upon all sorts of last minute concerns that need to be rectified. We must apply for graduation on WISER, make sure that we take all the random required classes that we put off for three years, and double check with the bursar’s office to make sure our accounts are in order. Sounds easy, right?

Let me forewarn you, things slip through the cracks. It happens in every college and university, but it exists threefold here at UMass Boston. If you haven’t yet taken the writing proficiency exam, do so immediately. They won’t inform you that you have yet to take it, but they will notify you at the last minute before you are ready to graduate–when it will be too late to fix the issue in time for your expected graduation. If you have transferred classes from other schools, triple check your degree audit and make sure your general education requirements are filled. If the advising department dropped the ball with you–too bad. You will still be stopped from graduating, and it still falls to you to fix a situation you were trying to prevent all along.

Students have been doing the dance of bureaucracy, as they scramble to fulfill requirements before graduation. If your paperwork is lost (and it has happened to several students) then your paperwork is gone, and you will be responsible for re-obtaining the documents and signatures that took weeks to put together, because the people you need to see are never all available on the same day. If you’re lucky enough to resubmit the forms quickly, hope and pray that they find their way to the proper hands, and not the hands that inadvertently (more like obliviously) threw them away. Then hope and pray that the papers get processed some time before you actually graduate.

One student will be taking an additional class this summer, because the advising department told her to take a class that would fulfill her science requirement, but unfortunately it was the wrong distribution. Will they excuse it, or allow it to count? Nope. She is stuck taking (and paying for) another class after she thought she was finished. Another student already graduated last spring, but after never having received his degree in the mail, called the school and was informed that there was a certain required class he never took. He did, in fact, take it and had to come to the campus to meet with the registrar and fix the problem so he could receive his degree. Would they even have notified him if he hadn’t called? Are our administrative offices content to let students’ academic careers hang in the balance because they choose to let problems float around until the student realizes something is wrong?

The disorganization could be forgiven if there was any evidence of the problems trying to be improved. But it seems that the problem is actually getting worse. The more I ask, the more I hear about the callous disregard students are exposed to in the administrative offices. Our graduations are at stake, something we’ve been working so hard towards, something we can almost taste. And then to have to run around campus desperately trying to make up for logistical problems (problems we did not create but will feel the effects of) is simply wrong and unfair. Is it because we are college students and therefore deserve to be treated like little children who don’t know any better? Are the people in these offices trying to prepare us to deal with an undeniably bureaucratic world? Um, we appreciate the training, but if we can’t get through our graduations then preparation for the outside world seems kind of moot, don’t you think?