So, I picked TeaBag up at 7am on Monday and we went to American River College so that I could see someone in financial aid to figure out what the hell was going on with my financial aid. Keep in mind that I have not received any emails about it since the start of the Spring 2014 semester.
Every time I have found out about a problem it has been because of a probpem within a different system alerted me to it. In the Summer 2014 semester, I got dropped from all of my classes because of an issue which alerted me to that issue. I went immediately to the Financial Aid office and waited for an hour to be told what I needed to fix and I did it immediately.
I still managed to get in to every class that I wanted or needed to. I asked the Financial Aid representative if there was anything else I needed to do to be approved and was assured that I did not. Then when the Fall 2014 semester started and I did not recieve my Pell Grant disbursement, I again enquired and took care of what they told me that I needed to do.
So when I went on Monday and found out that I had maxed out the 72 unit limit they placed on student’s in 2008 to respond to budget deficits I began the appeal process at 9am. By 10:30am I was waiting in line for a counselor where I was told it would be a couple of hours. They have a system to get a page if you are 15 or higher on the wait list. I was 12 and the woman at the counter did everything she could to dissuade me.
About 5 hours or so later my name disappeared off the list and in dismay I rushed to the counter. I had been waiting like 5 and a half hours and the response was “we will readd you to the top of the list.” I explained I had been waiting 6 hours as it was 4:30pm. She said there was no counselor available and she had told me at the beginning there would be a wait.
I raised my voice and reiterated I had been waiting 6 hours. Keep in mind, I am fully aware of the dangers of raising your voice today because the wrong words become a terrorist threat. I made no threats and used precise and proper English and I did not swear. I asked to speak to the Dean of the department because this was just not acceptable. I kept cutting her off and asking for the Dean in a slightly louder voice.
The Dean finally emerged from her office and I explained how hostile this process had been and how I had been waiting for 6 hours. She opened her mouth and spewed a shitload of stupid by asking why I had not opted to get a text message when my slot was open. I explained loudly that their system was designed by an idiot because it required 15 people on the list before you in order to get text messages. Then as soon as you dropped to 15 it called you back. I was 12 and therefore too low to get a message.
She took me in to her office and let me sit at a table as she looked at my appeal process and transcript. I had completed the Cisco CCNE classes with a 3 A’s and a B. They rarely have people pass with that high of grades because there is no prerequisite. I have decent grades and truly amazing when put against the majority. Better grades indicate better instructors or subject. She decided to do my appeal paperwork.
As she was looking at it she pointed to the three Los Rios Police officers leaving the building outside of her window and said she told them everything was ok. She said I was a large man and yelling, I was not, I was being loud, was threatening. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly and calmed myself before I began. Hodor.
Then in a calm, even tone I told her that this is what the Police said about Michael Brown and used to try and justify shooting him. Hodor. Mike’s supporters had to refer to him as a gentle giant to try and counter the size makes people mean and violent lie. Hodor.
Hodor is a big giant of a man in Game Of Thrones and he suffered a brain injury and now can only say “Hodor” but can perform all of the tasks you ask of him. His size always makes people attack him first even though he never reacts on his own violently. Prejudice. We do this. I do this. Bullshit response based on a prejudice and bias built around fear.
There was a small chance of this going horribly wrong and the Los Rios Police deciding they needed to take me down or some stupid shit. Scary when you consider what the dude told the police in Ohio about the guy in Walmart. What did the people calling the police tell them about me and what were they expecting to see when they arrived?
I spent 20 years working in the IT field and on numerous occasions I have had to analyze business processes and adapt them to technology which often shines a spotlight on bad and inefficient processes. This is the job of most consultants and becomes more important when security and governmental regulations need to be met. I told this Dean about this and I explained her system and processes were screwed up and needed to be reviewed. She smiled and shrugged me off after telling me she did not know about the 15 person page list limitation even though it is posted on the wall in the lobby of her office.
This attitude, mannerisms and behavior are prevalent in the corporate world where you will find managers and department heads are often out of touch with the day to day operations of their own departments. Their reliance on the chain of command for passing information and dealing with inconsequential issues creates the incubator for this diaconnect. Managers, and Team Leaders often try and handle it on their own to show in initiative which often makes problems worse. They often make decisions based on their feelings and faulty logic instead of the defined ideology of what they are supposed to be accomplishing. This is very prevalent in the public employee sector where judgemental attitudes often dictate the interactions in a predetermined manner.
The Dean thinks everything is working well in her department under the illusion that insane wait times have been countered with the ability to get paged when your appointment time is near. The forward facing employees all know there is a problem but no one seems to care because the drop in students just need to plan ahead better and this will teach them! Schedule an appointment and if I did so today the day of the appointment is 2 weeks from today. Plan for that emergency biatch!
The Dean is out of touch with what is going on in her department to the detriment of the student body because how many of my fellow students would have given up without waiting or scheduling an appointmen? How many scheduled an appointment? How many waited only.to give up because what happened to me happened to them? How many other students would know they can demand to see the boss, the dean, the person in charge?
As I have been dealing with the financial aid black hole, I have been talking to random students, especially when I wear my Carl’s Jr Breakfast Biscuit shirt that proclaims that We Wake And Bake Every Morning! What I have discovered from these sessions is that much like Fox Mulder learned I am not alone. He learned there were a lot of people with alien abducted siblings, to my shock, I learned I was not the only one with financial aid problems. Much like Dana Scully, I wanted to believe but much like Fox Mulder I had this attitude of Trust No One.
But it is true, I seem to perpetually find people who are trudging their way through the morass of the denial and missing dots over I’s rejections. It is like a reimagining of an episode of South Park where the topic is anal probing aliens and either someone 2 as a victim or knew a victim. I keep meeting people who are a victim or who have friends who are victims and they believe their friends and support them.
The entire experience in the office with the Dean was surreal as my blood sugar was off and when the Police were walking away, I kept feeling like they were the men in black and I just forgot that counseling was a work release for intergalactic alien criminals. It has to be with this level of disconnect with the value of time to humans and college kids. All during this process, I have put forth from the beginning that I am taking 6 units of honors classes. I have no textbooks. The history class required 5 textbooks all $10 or less from amazon but still outside of my budget. I already explained about the bookstore and how evil it is previously.
Don’t get me wrong, the Dean was an amazingly cordial and friendly lady. She was knowledgeable about doing the education plan and the appeal process. She helped me decide to take 9 units in one math class instead of two 5 unit classes. She gave me two cheese sticks because my blood sugar was so low, a two hour wait became a 6 hour ordeal and at that point I was feeling like a blood relative to Mary Donner.
So this is how Monday went from a simply three hour cruise to being stranded on a tiny deserted tropical island like Gilligan. Ok. Maybe not, but it felt like it at the time.