Magical UT Experience Scarred by Bureaucracy

As the curtain begins to close on my four year career as a UT student, I can honestly say that my time at this University has undoubtedly been the best of my life. I can recall when I was first driving up I-275 to visit this campus during my senior year of high school and seeing the minarets of Plant Hall from the highway and realizing at that moment that this was the place I wanted to be. I have made countless friends and memories here and truly love this place. Maybe because of this love and because I want to see UT become even greater, I offer my criticisms of UT. These criticisms are meant to be constructive and, in my opinion, are to make the experience of future Spartans even better than the unbelievable time I have had.

As any student and most faculty members will realize, the bureaucracy at UT is broken. All too often, a department drops the ball, things get screwed up, and nothing is reliable. When these mishaps repeatedly occur, the students are too often the victims. I could probably fill all of the pages of this paper with anecdotes just from the past four years about such occurrences, but I only need to think about the past month or so for the example I will present to you.

For those students returning for classes next fall, the registration process has been occurring since the beginning of April. Although it has never happened to me, students often express dismay about not getting the classes they need or how classes are too often scheduled at the same time. In addition to this, many of the upper-level classes are filled quickly by upperclassmen who end up taking the class for a few weeks and then dropping it after the drop-add period is over. I have heard stories from fellow students about how classes of 30 that have been filled to maximum capacity drop down to eight or so students after the first exams are administered. While this is the fault of the student, it is unfortunate for dedicated students who might have to stay an extra semester or two just because classes are difficult to get into.

This leads me to my example of how UT’s bureaucracy is broken and needs repair. A friend of mine was scheduled to register for classes at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 6. Some of the classes she needed to register for required prerequisite overloads. SpartanWeb was unable to handle this, so her registration required her to go to the Registrar’s Office. According to this student, she went to that office the day before she was scheduled to register to make sure that everything would work out because of her unique situation. The staff member with whom she spoke said that there would be no problem and to come to office at her scheduled time the next day. This particular Friday, however, was the holiday Good Friday, and, without announcement or even posting a sign, the Registrar’s Office closed at 3 p.m. in observance. This student was let down by the bureaucracy. Although she has aired her situation to the proper officials and things look like they might get resolved, situations like this occur all too often.

In the example I have presented, the student was allowed to address the failures of this University’s bureaucracy. But, students are not always afforded to this right that the University often considers a luxury. This leads to my last criticism of UT which is that in order to prepare students for the adult world, we need to be treated like adults. Although I have never had to call my mother to ask her to correct a wrong of the University, too many students have had to. I understand that students, myself included, make many mistakes. We might miss a deadline, not read that global e-mail or be misled or confused about many of UT’s contradictory policies. But, when this is coupled with a professional support staff and bureaucracy that makes the same mistakes students like me make, it leads to disaster. Yes, students get angry because they make mistakes or because they are misinformed. The lack of communication between departments and students on this campus just adds to our frustration. Students are what allow this University to exist. When we are treated like children who are still dependent upon our parents to get things right here, it creates the dependency that the University tries to dispel.

UT is focused on leadership. This is evident in the addition of three new dean positions for the next academic year, the large addition of managers in dining services who are more capable of standing around making sure employees don’t dish out an ounce over the maximum portion than actually serving the food themselves, as well as the push in student leadership programs and courses that are the focus of Dean Sclafani and President Vaughn. While having leadership is important, what UT needs is not an influx of upper administrative positions but competent leaders who can redress the failures of its bureaucracy.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top