For those of you who have been following me on Twitter you’re well aware that I am currently battling the College of Staten Island (CSI) for my diploma. Unfortunately 140 characters severely limits the amount of information I can share… I’m pretty much limited to venting vague frustrations. Some of you may be wondering what exactly could I be doing running back and forth to CSI so often. So let me tell you about this week in my struggle, which should give you an idea of the ridiculous bureaucracy and ineptness that I am forced to endure.
I am currently one class shy of my bachelor’s degree. An accomplishment almost nine years in the making. Unfortunately CSI is not offering any classes this summer that fulfill my requirement to graduate. So after calling an adviser I’m told to go see the chairperson of the English department, who may grant me an exception to take another class in its place. This requires I go to the English office to see a woman, who has been very helpful, but I’m sure is getting sick of looking at me. When I walk in her secretary greets me, “Didn’t we get you straightened out yet?” To which I can only hang my head, and in a sullen voice explain my situation. Unfortunately the chairperson is not in, and I have to come back another day.
Two days later I’m back on the CSI campus. Armed with my usual stack of records, letters, etc. The chairperson tells me there is one class I can take, a graduate course in autobiography writing. Unfortunately she doesn’t have the authority to let me, as an undergraduate student, take a graduate level course. She gives me the number of the graduate program director, and I call him from outside the English building. No answer. I leave a message and head home.
As I’m pulling up outside my apartment, the director calls me back, and says he’s more than willing to help. Unfortunately he has no idea what the protocol is for getting me admitted to the class, so I’ll have to figure that out.
It’s to late to call the registrar’s office at this point, so I have to wait till the next day. After fighting with the rather convoluted CSI automated phone system — because they don’t list the number for the registrar’s office on the web site — I get through to a woman, who after 10 minutes of hemming and hawing (and putting me on hold), tells me she has no idea either. She directs me to call a particular woman in the graduation office.
Why the graduation office would know how to register for this class, and why the registrars office (whose single task is to handle registration for classes) doesn’t is beyond me.
So I wait till the prescribed time (she was apparently out of the office till two), and call. I tell her I’ve been specifically instructed to call her and that she may have the answer to my question. Without even pausing, she promptly transfers me back to the registrar’s office! The same woman I spoke to earlier picks up the phone again, only this time she knows the answer — I assume its because this time she listened when I spoke. She tells me that all I need is a letter saying I’m allowed to take the course. But apparently the letter doesn’t need to be from the graduate program director, just from the chairperson of the English department.
This is just a tiny taste of the crap that goes on at this school, where the best you can hope for is to speak to someone who is pleasant, but useless.
If you’re interested in seeing the angry letter I wrote that got me a personal appology from the president of CUNY and the CSI administration let me know I may just post it.