Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Meeting Rant

Posted by Gerald on February 11, 2008

There are days I am not in love with the institution that employs me.  This was one of them.

The Faculty Senate produced a report and suggestions on how we do advisement and registration.  As president I was invited to discuss this report with a committee that handles these things.  This itself is somewhat notable.  Despite the fact that we faculty members both advise students and handle the bulk of actual registration (we do not have one of those new-fangled systems from the 1990s that allow students to register online) there has never been faculty representation on this committee below the level of department chairs.

As I expected, the committee responded to our report and suggestions with a pat on the head, no dog biscuit, and the promise that these issues would all be dealt with when we get Web Advisor.  This has been the stock answer the administration has been handing us for at least three years whenever we point out issues with advising and registering.  Soon we shall have Web Advisor and the lion shall lay down by the lamb, oh yeah!  The date of when that will happen keeps getting shifted forward, but when it happens all will be well!

I think that by the time we get Web Advisor running, our students will be downloading their courses directly into their genetically enhanced brains.

Then there was a discussion about our practice of having open advising and registration on Tuesdays.  When, again, we raised some of the problems involved the response was, well there are a lot of things to look at there.  Then we DID NOT LOOK AT ANY OF THOSE THINGS and went ahead to schedule Tuesday advising and registration dates through the spring of 2009.

They did not listen to anything we said on this subject.  They respond to everything we said with either meaningless platitudes or by treating us like spoiled children for having complained.  These administrators assume our students are too stupid to be able to understand the idea of having registration on alternate Tuesdays (to ease staffing issues) or too irresponsible to be asked to come to advisement when they are supposed to (for returning students.)  I don’t think either of those things are true.  Certainly there are some students who would fail to read the dates for registration and would show up on the wrong date and would be so frustrated they would then decide not to come back the next week to sign up to take courses – but are we really losing anything if they don’t?  Are students that lacking in ability, desire, and drive really going to succeed?  I doubt it.  But no, let us not demand responsibility if that might lose us a few FTE.

I’m a bit irritated…

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4 Responses to “Meeting Rant”

  1. Steve said

    At some point last year, I mentioned the fear that shall not be named: That Web Advisor is not only not going to solve our problems but is going to create new ones we’re not preparing for. Unless our problems have already been addressed, we’re going to be in big trouble. Or, better yet, if we don’t anticipate new problems, we’re going to go the way of chicken little… I was told that I had some good ideas and I was asked if I wanted to be included in those discussions should we ever get around to them… I’ve yet to be contacted.

    For me, Web Advisor is, for lack of a better metaphor, a Trojan horse. It is also a carrot (a carrot and a horse? Wha?). Seriously, though, there is a sharp divide even in the very understanding of “advising” that is being placated with “look to the future; our salvation is near.”

    That’s why (and I’ll never get credit for this either) I suggested years ago that we solve our problems in house first and hope the rest of the college catches on. If they don’t… o well.

    But I’ve come to realize that walls don’t respond to even the most heartfelt pleas…

  2. bridgett said

    Ok, so want to hear something funny? We have the on-line registration thingiedoo — students can do it all themselves, from off-campus even. And you know what? We trust our students so little to figure out the labyrinth of our curriculum that we shut down the entire campus one Tuesday a semester and make them all meet with their faculty advisor before we let them at the system — the worst of both worlds. And so it shall be with y’all, I’m betting.

  3. Gerald said

    Oh absolutely. We are already being told that we need to understand that advisement and registration are separate processes and the goal is to automate registration so we can emphasize advisement. We will have those meetings and then the students will get a pin so they can access the system and register.

    I have 92 listed advisees. Even though I’ve probably only actually seen about thirty of these people, I’m not too sure just how much quality mentoring I’m supposed to be able to deliver to that many people. Add to that the fact that not a single one of them is even a potential history major and I think the general value of my sage council drops to just above nil.

  4. bridgett said

    I’ve got 20-some advisees, down from a one-time high of nearly 40. They are majors but I don’t really add value to their student experience. The really with-it people know what they want and how to get it, the middling people could (with some effort that they really need to make for themselves) figure it out, and the handful of problem children who need some adult attention either don’t come in or drop all their classes right after our advising session to take some bullshit classes P/F so they can skip them altogether during March Madness.

    Students that want to seek me out to talk professional development or grad school or whatever will do so. I don’t ever remember thinking to myself “gee, I wish I had more advising” when I was an undergrad or even thinking it was necessary. You look at the curriculum, you take this and that class in this or that order and you line up to get your degree. It’s not Burger King and you aren’t going to have it your way just because the faculty all stands behind the counter and asks “May I help you?”

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