I was talking to a student today whose major is in another department on campus. He told me that he's having some difficulties getting assistance from his major professor, some others in the department as well as the person who handles the student services in his graduate program. He told me this woman is nice to certain students but not others. Trust me, this student has a very pleasant demeanor and is very friendly, always smiling, so I have a hard time believing he would be deserving of a bad attitude from a staff member.
This student told me that his major professor doesn't contribute to his program, doesn't give him any advisement as to what courses he should take, and in general isn't very helpful. The student is in his first year and there is no departmentally established curriculum for his program of study. When he asks "what courses should I take that will help me in my program?" he is told "take anything you want" and that is NOT advisement. He told me that several students in this department are in the same position as he is and nobody wants to complain because nobody wants to rock the boat.
This is one of the problems of career service in higher education. People are in the system so long they forget how to do their jobs. They forget how to care. The person in this student's program who handles the graduate student services should be doing her job and answering student questions and directing them to the appropriate resources for help. Sure at times there are students who ask you the same things over and over again. And sure there are students who don't pay attention to the policies and wind up begging for help at the last minute when they had all semester to take care of their problems. But in the end, we can't say no. We have a responsibility to help them within the guidelines of course.
And as to the professor, the major advisor who has been at the University for nearly 30 years, he needs to either get with the program or retire. At an institution of higher learning, there is NO room for people like him and yet there's nothing you can do about it because they have tenure. That's right, tenure.
At institutions of higher learning there are some professors who shouldn't be there. They should have either been fired or retired a long time ago. Same goes for some of the staff. These people use and abuse the system because as everyone knows "when you work for the state, you can't be fired". That's common knowledge at many state institutions as it is in state government. This is why you find professors who have broken all sorts of rules and remain employed, this is why you find staff who sit on their ass all day playing online video games and are rude and mean and nasty to the people they are supposed to be helping. And they get away with it. I hate it. They should be required to do their jobs or be tossed out on their ass.
Do any of us really think that this kind of thing would go on in most private corporations? I don't think so.
Sometimes I have a tough day at work. I wear many hats and many times it can be very difficult to balance all the responsibilities of my job. But my students count on me and I can't let them down. Even if I'm having a bad day, I still have to put that aside and do the right thing.
If only I could figure out how to pass that lesson on to others.