I just took a trip to Columbia University’s core curriculum office, and it just about ruined my day completely. I am appalled at the level of service these people render for $45K a year.
There’s a lecture class that every Columbia College student must take, called Frontiers of Science. With this class, one must also take a discussion class called, not surprisingly, Frontiers of Science – Discussion. As a student of science, I was fairly excited about this class; nonetheless, I had to defer taking it for a year because of scheduling conflicts. When registering for the class again, I found that while I could place myself into a discussion class, I was not able to register for the lecture. So I went to the core office yesterday to ask to be placed into Frontiers of Science. The representative presented me with a form, titled Petition to Section Change or Enroll in FRONTIERS OF SCIENCE 2007-2008, with which I could petition for a seat in the class.
It is strange that I have to petition to get into a class that I’m required to take, but the representative assured me that this is a standard process. Understanding that Frontiers of Science is a popular class, I complied. But I was uncertain when I was asked to select a class time from a list of 11 choices. My understanding was that there was only one lecture per week. I asked the representative again, and she confirmed that these were, indeed, the times that Frontiers of Science was taught. At this point, an authoritative figure by the name of Clarence D. Coaxum stepped out and supported her assertion. When I submitted the form, I was told that the changes would be in effect by 4:00 PM the same day.
Well, at 5:00 PM when I checked my course listing, I still did not see Frontiers of Science anywhere; I decided to go back to the office today for an explanation. When I checked the listing again in the morning, I was still not in the lecture class. To top that off, I had been moved to a different discussion class, which completely ruins my schedule.
Back at the office, Mr. Coaxum told me that they had not received any request from me to be enrolled in the class, and promptly told someone to register me in the class. When I asked about the discussion class, he said that I had petitioned for my class time to be changed. He asked if I had read the form fully, implying that I was somehow incapable of reading. Of course I had read the form fully! I had even received an explanation. I challenged him to read the form himself, and he found no valid indication that it’s for the discussion class and not the lecture class. However, he said that the office would not do anything about it because, quite simply, “[I was] the only one who had a problem.”
This absolutely unprofessional behavior left me speechless. I cannot believe that I paid these people to refuse to help me and to mislead me. I am not a happy customer. The way this case was handled is deplorable. It is difficult to imagine that an office at such a prestigious college as Columbia would treat students this way.
Being misleading may get you one unfortunate customer, but it’s just not the way to do business.