After struggling to get past layers of red tape, clarifying numerous miscommunications, sifting through heaps of listserv e-mails and rearranging schedules to accommodate mentors, where do many Geneseo students find themselves when dealing with the administration?
Misguided, frustrated and most significantly, with no effective recourse available. It seems to me as if there is a lack of a system of checks and balances available to Geneseo students. A friend of mine that is studying abroad here informed me that she was sent a packet of information in her home country that was designated for an American Geneseo student interested in studying abroad, rather than the paperwork she required. Due to this careless error, she was uninformed about a vaccination she was required to have before entering this country.
For students like my friend, who are they to turn to in order to elucidate areas of weakness and suggest improvement? The Study Abroad Office, their main liaison back to their home country? Not likely.
Quantitatively, we were rated sixth-best value among the nation's public colleges for in-state students, and the best value among public colleges for out-of-state students by Kiplinger magazine. Any transfer student you may find in Erie Hall this semester will tell you that it takes considerably more academic caliber to procure the same GPA at Geneseo. Statistically, our job placements are better than most other public schools. But is that really all we value in education at Geneseo? To get that all-important piece of paper and get out of here as quickly as possible?
Even proactive, engaged students can find this task alone nearly impossible. Another friend of mine, an accounting major who is arguably more OCD and certainly more focused than the average Geneseo student, has a medical condition that prevented her from attending a mandatory meeting for the business school. In order to have the resulting hold removed from her record, she was instructed by the business school to write a paper about an article irrelevant to the meeting, take a quiz and schedule a meeting during which she was rebuked for the inconvenience of her health condition. Should she be of the opinion that this treatment was juvenile and condescending, to whom should she express this sentiment? The dean of the business school that she may need a recommendation letter from in the future? Again, not very likely.
Which brings me to my last point: SOFIs are ineffective. In one of my classes recently, a professor requested an honest response from my classmates. "How seriously do you, as students, consider SOFIs?" The collective disdainful chuckle was more telling than any SOFI response. These, we were informed, were the main source of consideration when contemplating a professor's tenure. Ratemyprofessor.com, a feedback Web site more readily used by students, holds no bearing on the fate of the potentially inadequate future Geneseo professor.
I'm not here to shift the blame from the student body onto the administration. I'm here to make clear the fact that there is a need to improve. If a student has an objection to a policy within a particular department, he or she should not be afraid of the consequences of demanding accountability.
I propose that a school-sponsored, Internet-based forum be developed. Students should be able to anonymously post opinions and, more significantly, solutions. Until there exists a more personable and qualitative aspect to education, Geneseo's rankings may be in jeopardy due to dissatisfied and embittered students.
Nicole Colwell is a sophomore English and pre-med major currently on an accidental study-abroad trip to Holland.