I’ve been proud to be Editor-in-Chief of The Pace Press for all of fall semester. It was an exciting opportunity to dive deeper into one my hobbies and I can’t say I regret it. On Dec. 13 I will cease to be Editor-in-Chief. It’s not a decision I’m happy to make nor do I want to but I don’t see any other option. It’s a decision I’m particularly unhappy with as I think that the current staff has worked really hard to provide a quality paper week in and week out and I hate to leave a commitment unfulfilled. However I also don’t want to work for free.
The details of the situation are complex and I don’t want to get into them here in case a wrong word or bad phrase puts blame on a party that’s not at fault. The basics of it are that I found out the Monday before Thanksgiving that I would be receiving absolutely no compensation for my semester of hard work. The Pace Press, along with a select few organizations, is a University Funded Organization and the members of its editorial board qualify for Tuition Remission. It turns out I did not.
I can’t be mad about not receiving compensation, although I do find a certain bitter irony that in waiting for the payment I accrued an OSA late fee and have in effect paid $108 to work diligently and for the benefit of the Pace community, since the rules were clearly laid out. My problem is that those rules were never laid out to me. It wasn’t until I talked to several members of the Offices of Financial Aid, Student Success and Student Assistance that the situation was explained. The back of our financial award statements has a catch all claim that any university’s student’s financial aid can be changed at any time for any reason. It sounds like something that belongs in the fine print of a company’s promotional offer, not in documents that are meant to help you finance your way to a better education.
I can’t tell if this is a Pace problem or it’s a national problem – I’m sure that the current all time high amount of student loan debt wasn’t accrued with forewarning. If it’s a problem in the way that Pace handles their aid packages and communications, then I wouldn’t be surprised. There seems to be an air of ignorant negligence around certain offices, as if administrators believe that by not telling their workers all the details the workers can’t get them in trouble, since they don’t know enough to say anything perceived as damaging. That we have an office, The Office of Student Success, whose main function seems to be making sure the Office of Student Assistance actually assists students is uncomfortable to say the least.
And if this is a national problem, a systematic approach to educational funding, using blanket statements and opaque answers and asterisks hidden in documents to paint a better picture then truly exists, I see no reason why it should be a Pace problem. If Pace is striving towards greatness, then it should start by looking inwards. No amount of expansion, land development or grant acquisition will cover up incompetence, sloth or the complete distrust students have in the administration.
In a school whose students aspire to and succeed in Broadway roles, who secure jobs on Wall Street and at elite companies like Goldman Sachs, and who develop entrepreneurial startups before even earning a bachelors degree we expect more. In a school where professors are founders of civil movements, former Rockettes, and recognized for their work by national associations we demand more. Pace can, and does, attract and breed excellence.
But why does this school complicate the lives of students by providing little guidance and fighting them at almost every turn over bureaucratic formalities? And if this is a national issue then why doesn’t Pace take the time to rise above? Train the staff you have better, condense departments and get rid of what doesn’t work. Provide guidance to students and become proactive, educate students about issues and work with them to avoid problems, don’t just be reactive and respond to the problems that arise.
I’ll be done in May and I’m lucky to have finished with relatively few headaches. But when we ask why students don’t finish or transfer we shouldn’t be surprised to find the answer is because they find themselves with extra charges three quarters through a semester.
I’ll take time to reflect on my Pace experience and I’ll see how I feel about once it the alumni donation letters flood in. Although if nothing changes I won’t be surprised if they get sent to the wrong address.