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Reprise: I am a university drop out

The following is the tale of one man's struggle against a faceless institution and his desperate attempt to simply be heard.

This story picks up where the previous post left off. The situation was that I had read an email from monash university stating i had missed the cut off date for re-enrolment and i was waiting for the university to open back up so i could sort out what was an obvious mistake.

On January 5th I went to the business faculties student services desk. I explained how i received the email, i remembered enrolling and that there must have been some sort of mistake. The lady at the desk said she needs to confer with someone so she picked up the phone and made a call. She then turned to me and said "unfortunately you have been excluded from your course and you will have to come back next year". In utter shock i almost laughed at the notion and said "no there has to be something i can do". She repeated her statement, which once again sounded ludicrous. I then said "no, you are not listening to me. There has to be something i can do. Who was on the phone? Can i please speak with them". I persisted in this manner until eventually this person came out to see me. This person, a bitchy little woman with a blonde pony tail that was obviously far too tight, comes out in and in a very defensive tone and said "no you can't do anything you will have to apply through vtac next year". The sympathy level was zero and when i continued asking questions about other options like midyear intake and grievance processes she obviously became even more agitated only responding with the one word answer of "no".

Seeing that i was getting nowhere and that my feelings were welling up i left the building. My shock turned to sorrow as i come to terms with this information. Blubbering on the phone i call my mother and chris from my car. Dismayed at what had happened i sat there for quite some time before i felt able to drive.

After i got home i attempted to contact Des Casey who was my course coordinator. Unfortunately he is on leave until the 18th of January, his automated email response said to contact Martin Atchison. I was not able to make contact with Martin.

I then contacted Dr Campbell Wilson and Chris Gonsalvez who are both the associate head of IT. They have tried to help me on my behalf, but are unable to help as my course is administered by the Faculty of Business and Economics. My attempts to contact someone of authority in the business faculty where met with auto responses that they are not available until after the 18th.

I honestly believed that I had enrolled so I contacted Jacqui Hamilton (Senior Administrative Officer). She checked the WES server logs but could not find a transaction to support this. I then sent off a request to IT support for them to check the email server to see if I received a confirmation email.

I then contacted the Team Leader of Student Services and booked a meeting with her for Friday January 7th. She agreed to meet with me to discuss my options but told me in no uncertain terms that my options were "limited".

On the 6th of January i went to my doctor and he wrote a note stating 'during October of last year some traumatic issues arose affecting my family structure and emotional stability. That I am still suffering from depression and anxiety because of this and that in his opinion it was essential for my recovery that i be enrolled in university this year'.

I then contacted the Director of the Equity and Diversity Centre who contacted the person i was meeting on the 7th on my behalf. I also contacted the disables office in an attempt to find out other grievance options or avenues that may have been possible.

I then set up a meeting with student rights so they could advise me on the next course of action i could take after my meeting. All the while Chris Gonsalvez is throwing as much weight around as possible on my behalf.

And so Friday the 7th came. I had been advised to write a letter with a detailed explanation of my situation and what i had done thus far so if needed it could be handed on. I walked into the building, followed the directions to the office and rang the bell as instructed.

To my dismay the bitchy little woman with the obviously far too tight pony tail opened the door and spoke in what was more like grunt "What do you want?". My heart sank as one single thought rushed over body, this woman could not possibly be the lady i had a meeting with could she. I said i had a meeting with the team leader. She motioned to the chairs and said that the team leader was busy and i would have to wait.

Not too long after a student left the room followed by a much more pleasant looking lady who asked if i was Paul. I said yes and we walked towards her office. She sat down behind her desk and we started to talk. I had a list of questions written down, but it seemed like i didn't need them as she answered several of them without prompting.

The meeting turned to my options or lack thereof. She told me that because my course doesn't exist anymore that i have been granted 1 years intermission, which is deferring for a year. This would mean i would still be able to finish off my course even though it doesn't exist anymore. I was then told i would have to wait until after the 18th of January for a decision to be made. First round offers were send out on the 18th and they needed that information from VTAC to know how many CSP places there were available. She then went to say that if that information did come back favourable the following options may become available to me.

1. Intermission being reduced to a semester and being able to go back in second semester.

2. Only being able to enroll in my two remaining IT units in first semester, and completing my remaining accounting ones in second semester.

3. Being allowing to enroll in my two remaining IT units and one of my business units. (This being the best possible option)

I was then told to stop pushing. In my desperate attempt to be heard i was apparently disregarding 'the system' by going above people. I told her i was pushing because nothing was happening but agreed to stop pushing until at least after the 18th. I left the meeting with the knowledge that i was at least heard and that the ball was finally in motion.

I then went and had a meeting with MONSU student rights. They explained that the team leaders boss who is the manager of undergraduates would ultimately have the final say and that if i attempted to contact the Dean of Business and Economics the matter would simply be referred to her to deal with.

So there i was, having done everything i possibly could only to be stuck in limbo waiting for the 18th to come around. That night i received an email from the team leader who said that i will get a response between the 18th and 20th.

My mind stewed on what even after all of this seemed like the likely outcome. I would not be going to uni during 2010. I researched diplomas, traveling options and full time employment options all the while thinking that this is not how this should pan out.

On the 20th January at 10:29am i received the following email:

Dear Paul,

I wish to advise that you have been permitted to re-enrol in your course for 2010.

I have added one unit to your enrolment for 2010, please access WES and amend your enrolment as soon as possible.

Please be advised that you will be charged a $250 late fee for failing to enrol in a timely manner.

Best of luck with your studies for 2010 and thank you for your patience whilst a decision was reached.

Kind regards,

###### ######
Team Leader, Student Services

My heart lifted as i read and re-read the email. My ordeal was over, and i finally felt like i was in control of the life that for the longest time felt like it was slipping away. My story is one that i am sure is replayed again and again every year. My problem it seemed would have simply been not hitting a submit button, and that for many is the difference between continuing higher education and effectively postponing their life for an entire year.

I was lucky. I post this cautionary tale not to vilify the institution or those involved in 'the system'. But to remind myself and others that the world can turn on a dime without notice.

Live for the little victories, because next time you might not come out on top.

Till next we meet,

This post first appeared on The Gospels According To Paul, please read the originial post: here

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Reprise: I am a university drop out


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