The past two and a half months seem quite similar to a disaster in my mind’s eye and it is because of the test-run of the new CUNY-wide system called CUNYfirst. Funnily enough, this new system has earned itself the moniker “CUNYworst.” Why? Because at the beginning of December 2010, with finals looming around the corner, Professors still did not have access to their class lists. Yet grades were supposed to be submitted through CUNYfirst. When students checked their spring 2011 dues they found erroneous charges on their accounts and claims of monies owed. I was one of these students and I was not pleased. Having gone to the Bursar’s office early in November to pay the 75 cents I still owed on my fall 2010 tuition (the thieves [Queens College]), when I checked my ‘Campus Finances’ at the end of December I was shocked to see a charge of $344, past due. Suffice it to say, I lost my shit. I began looking for my receipt for the damned 75 cents, because if I could bring that to the Bursar’s office I could, verbally, kick some ass. Buy, I digress. The Financial Aid office eventually sent out an email informing students to disregard the charges listed to their accounts because CUNYfirst had yet to be update with the most current information (that did not explain where my damn bill came from because I didn’t owe any amount of that sized for that semester). I paid the balance with the comfort of having proof on my banking statement and knowing that before they [Financial Aid] would refund any monies they would first apply all payments to my spring tuition, which they subsequently did. Yet another disaster that could have been avoided in the CUNYfirst disaster was course codes. The new system was enacted on November 18, 2010, a mere 2-3 weeks before pre-registration. One might think that they would use the course codes that the departments provided on ESims. One was wrong. The makers of the system thought it best to simply create new course codes…and inform no one. Amazingly enough it did reach departments and they [department office assistants, college assistants and student aides] scrambled to change course codes on the hundreds of courses already posted on cork boards and websites alike. But I am not done with the list of grievances against CUNYfirst and this brings us back to the Professors and their grades. Let me refresh your memory: ESims will no longer be used, grades are to be submitted through CUNYfirst, it [CUNYfirst] has continuously disappointed the campus body with glitches, and Professors have no access to their course lists. The Bursar’s office extended grade submissions to January 12, 2011 because no one knew how to submit grades using CUNYfirst until January (if anyone did know they kept it hush-hush until the very last minute, because the deadline has been extended to January 14, 2011). This has left department Office Assistants facing countless calls, daily, in inquiry to grades that have yet to be posted on students’ personal profiles. Students were not notified as to how long Professors had to submit grades so automatically they began to panic (It is/was not cute. How bad was your performance in the class for you to freak out because your grade has yet to be posted?).
Dear lord in ‘heaven,’ I wish this was all I had to tell you, alas, it gets worse. This final faux pas of CUNYfirst has upset the Professors of the liberal arts (specifically those who teach writing intensive courses). What the new system has failed to do is place a lock on the writing intensive courses. Those of you who have taken a ‘W’ [writing intensive] course know that there is an emphasis on written assignment. To make sure the students get the best experience and training for further studies the cap (total students allowed in the course) is usually 20-25, depending on the department and course number. What is happening now is unpardonable; employees throughout the campus [Queens College] have been over-tallying students into ‘W’ courses. Now, the Office Assistants are faced with enraged Professors asking why their class tally continues to rise beyond the cap. It is entirely possible that the students being placed in course after the cap need them to graduate or they are transfers who need a basic ‘w’ in order to take upper-level courses, that is expected. What is not expected are these rogue office workers who disregard common courtesy and well-known rules. It is told to every student who wishes to gain entry into a closed course that they must first email the Professor of said course and gain their approval before any further steps can be taken. What is being done is unjust and it is purposefully aiming at over-working already under-paid CUNY Professors (Did I just say that? Yes, I believe I did). The point of a writing intensive course is to get in-depth critique and assistance in your method of writing and rules of grammar. This is best done in the smallest of settings. Class sizes have already risen over the past year: The honors class that was once capped at 12 is now capped at 15. These Professors cannot have the extra students dropped from their classes because they do not know who the trespassing students are. The best solution to this problem would be for future students who need to be placed into closed ‘w’ classes to first email the Professor for permission, then speak to the Chair of their department to get it done. Honestly, if over-tallying isn’t done in the department it is blatant disregard for department regulations and order. I suggest Professors print out their registered student list as soon as possible so that they know who to have dropped when the spring semester begins, but maybe I am just being mean.