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Disagreements between M Center and students gone on long enough

After watching and enduring the countless M Center versus student battles that are waged each semester, The Campanil feels that the M Center has made the all too common mistake of taking on more than it can handle.

Mills College’s student body currently comprises nearly 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students. The M Center has a staff of 16 individuals – roughly one employee for every 100 students – who provide services in three main areas: academic records, student accounts, and financial aid.

The M Center handles issues related to transcripts, scholarships, class registration, graduation requirements, tuition payments, loans, cross-registration, study abroad, leaves of absence, government financial aid, work study, enrollment verification and a large list of other duties.

Important documents have been lost. Students have been dropped from all of their classes without warning. Mathematical errors have been made on Academic Plans (MAPs) and tuition payment summaries. Mistakes – from major oversights to the smallest technical glitches – happen all the time, and it often takes four or five people to figure out what went wrong; then, once the problem has been established, actually fixing it is a whole new fight to face.

Several students have been told different information from two or more workers at the M Center – all about the same issue. The deadline for a graduation petition, the process for filling out a financial aid form, the steps to take in order to check-in – all of these and more seem to be up for interpretation depending upon which worker happens to pick up the phone.

We understand where the problem stems from; some people are more knowledgeable in specific areas. But this problem could be solved by making specific departments separated by duties, each with a different phone line and set of employees.

We know that it is not currently within Mills’s budget to hire more M Center staff; the College’s present hiring freeze proves that.

It all comes back to that age-old battle cry, that demand for the same thing students have wanted from every division and department on campus for years: transparency. We know mistakes happen, and we are aware that the M Center staff are only human just like the rest of us, but the problem is that when something goes wrong, instead of clearly explaining the situation, they try to hide the error with mumblings of “I don’t know what happened” and “go here and talk to this person” while they scramble to fix whatever went wrong or wait for the student to bring up the error before they even deal with it.

Students need support and clear communication in dealing with issues that arise. Our relationship with the M Center need not be an adversarial one.