So my friend Drashna, who is as nerdy as I am, introduced me to the painful joy that is the television sitcom called Community when I began going back to school at #AmericanRiverCollege. I binge watched during the summer break after Drashna sent me a 1tb hard drive full of movies, music, books and data labeled appropriately as Mix tape because that is what Nerds do.
The reason the show is painful is because a lot of what may seem like shallow or lame jokes about registration, parking, competition for meeting and study space. They all hurt including the demographics because I might be any one of the characters at one point in a semester. I did a semester like Abed in a filmmaking class, that is how I met TeaBag. I met MooSe in Business Law and we became best friends like Troy and Abed.
Drashna and I have never met in real life. I met him via the support community for the instant messaging application #Trillian, back when it was in beta, before #Facebook. Before #myspace. Before #twitter. Before #anonymous. Before hash tags. It was the original social networking and nerds had friends on all of them. Somehow Facebook connected us there too and we became even better and closer friends. We habitually joke about being Troy and Abed In The Morning.
Reality Check: There are some major issues with the work flow on this campus and seemingly conflicts of interest in the dispersment of financial aid. The entire process is a kludged together system that seems to have so many errors on the part of applicants that hurt their success. When the process works correctly, the disbursement occurs a week after classes begin, which means no textbooks or supplies until then for most recipients of financial aid. Hiccup and suddenly you are dropped from all the classes you were in or know the wait list for due to priority registration.
When this happened during the summer, it felt like the season finale was on the verge of ending with a cliffhanger of the leading male dropping out. I hadn’t checked my status and somehow something was wrong with the Board Of Governors Fee waiver (BOG) and I took care of it the first day before my classes began and got everything done so I could reregister. I sat in classes for the first week to stay on the wait list. I put every ounce of my being in to getting in to the classes I was dropped from. But I got no other financial aid.
I survived with an A and a C for the two classes I took. One of them was astronomy and I didn’t have a textbook. I am currently living a nightmare with no financial aid other then the bog waiver. Even though I asked and was assured nothing else was necessary for the fall, they checked and had everything, they never got my Federal Application for Student Financial Aid or FASFA, this is what gives you the Pell grant which is used to buy books and supplies. I haven’t gotten any and have no books. I am reading by borrowing and using the library. I am struggling to keep up because there is a 2 hour limit on checkouts. I am just not sure what I am going to do.
I had already went and retransmitted my FASFA from the website when I went in and learned they had not gotten it. I explained it was an emergency and that I was enrolled in honors classes. They seemed uninterested in doing anything and I was told 5 weeks. The school controls the disbursement and they control the bookstore. Even though I find it obscenely over priced and exploitative in nature, being able to acquire the books, even used, from the store on credit that would automatically be deducted from your Pell grants should be a school process. Ensuring that new students are ready and acquire the necessary supplies should be part of the financial aid process unless a student declines. Not ensuring they have books while ensuring that they pay all of the applicable fees should make this a no brainer.
They claim that there are over 25,000 active students at this college and I have heard 80% get financial aid. In the Spring Associated Student Body Election less then 5% of the students voted. One has to wonder if this is simply because most students spend as little time on campus as possible because they have gotten so frustrated with the kinks in the system and the seemingly hostile decisions.
During the Summer 2014 semester, they doubled the daily parking tax claiming it was necessary because it hadn’t been raised in a while and the costs for maintenance have increased. Uh, how? No, seriously, how? If that were not enough, most of the machines in the parking structure are frequently out of service or will not accept cash. Take more from the middle class blessed enough, rich enough, hahahaha that’s rich, to own a car. As if that were not enough, the design and construction of the new student center is wasteful and flawed. They had to replace the floor because of cracks in the foundation. They chose to close the student center and all sources of food on campus sans vending machines and the major resource for socialization and studying on campus. No #Starbucks and no #Subway the week of finals during the compressed semester of the summer when stress and tensions are naturally higher. My classes were too long to bring food and leave it in the car or carry it on a bag in the heat. Leaving meant time and added stress, can I do it in less then an hour, etc.
The school internet connection sucks and my tablet seems to have major issues connecting working for a day or two and then not working. It is a really irritating situation and I am not sure why it is being such a difficult situation. But I am not in the minority as several of the professors have discussed it. I have gone to labs where the computers had no Internet connection so the lab couldn’t be utilized how it was supposed to. The teacher had even asked about it and reserved it in advance only to be told of the problem when we showed up. I have 20 years of corporate IT experience and in the real world this should never happen if they have salaried IT Employees who are supposed to maintain this.
Now, when you are watching Community remember that some of the jokes are exaggerated slightly but not always. That on top of all that you have to add the drama I mentioned above and add that there was a period of time a few years ago when the lots were all full and there were always people circling for spaces. The school oversold monthly passes and lost the trust of a bunch of students who would rather pay more then pay less and be stuck with nowhere to park. As the semester progresses, the parking gets better but at the start it is intense with traffic less then a mile from school causing the 5 minute ride to the school become 15 with multiple long traffic lights. Thus adding to the stress of getting to class on time, I am usually an hour early, on purpose.
The first week of classes, some chick flipped out in a voice class started asking if they were laughing at her and then slapping them and telling them to stop laughing at them. Don’t groan, this is no laughing matter in all seriousness because violence on campus is increasing and her open handed slaps left marks. This was all over this week’s issue of the American River Current dated September 17, 2014 and says there may be as many as 7 victims. Another story says that the official word is that everything that could be done was done properly and the response was appropriate. The Los Rios Police Department, or whatever it is called responded in a timely manner. My question is just how often I see them in the #Starbucks off campus when I am studying. Not one, but two of them together. Sometimes three of them and two cars. How many are on duty at one time and how does two or even three of them leave campus at the same time? Why were they using tax payer dollars to go to lunch? How much time dot they spend driving on patrol instead of walking on patrol? The campus police should be like crossing Mr. Rogers with Sheriff Andy Taylor or Officer Friendly. They should be like beat cops in the 50’s in New York City who walked a several block area for their shift, responding to situations as they came upon them how they deemed necessary. Often times issuing a stern reprimand and a discussion with the parents that evening at the end of his shift.
The campus Police should be out in force on the first day of classes walking the campus and answering questions. Their uniforms should be business casual and their badge hanging around their neck like televisions show, overtop and orange vest with a giant ? On it. Seriously. They should be trained in the campus geography, if given the building and number they should be able to tell he student the quickest route to the classroom they are looking for. Their presence walking the areas of the nature area and the other more secluded areas of the campus would probably not be a bad idea. There have been attempted assaults in the nature area and a random encounter with the police might prevent them in the future or at the very least the threat might.