Saturday, July 17, 2010
Wow! I did not see that coming...a year of planning wiped out. So here's the dealee-yo. Last week I went online to register for my classes and an error message kept popping up "the classes you have requested are not in the system" or something like that. Knowing that most university/public service websites have infinitely more glitches than corporate ones (why? do universities get the first year computer students to design the sites?) I wasn't too worried and wrote an email to the department head explaining the problem.
Rewind about 6 weeks....I'm listening to NPR (the US equivalent of CBC radio) and the president of UNLV (my university) is being interviewed. The gist of the interview was that due to state budget cuts, UNLV was getting significantly less money this year and 7 programs would have to be cut. Several programs were mentioned as potential candidates but my program never came up. No decisions had been made but the university was trying to figure out which ones to cut.
UNLV is quite a large university with at least 60 programs so I'm listening to this thinking..."hmm, what are the odds that my program will be cut?" Well, technically it's 11.6 % but *spoiler alert!* apparently the odds were much higher....
Something like this is so out of left field that you never formulate a contingency plan in the months leading up to classes. Can you imagine your academic advisor looking over your application and projected study plan and saying, "ok, it looks like you've done a good job of planning you're education, but I don't see any contingency plan for if the state financially collapses, forces major budget cuts on our university, cuts your program with only a month before the first day of class and stomps on your hopes and dreams."...To which I'd wittily reply, "what's your contingency plan for when they cut your position?"
I just can't help but laugh at the irony of cutting my program: Ethics and Policy Studies. First of all this is Las Vegas. To many it already a source of much smirking that there even is an ethics program. But think about it, without an ethics program, who besides the Mormons (Nevada has many Mormons) is going to waive a self-righteous finger at the city? At least we can provide arguments besides "this would make sweet baby Jesus cry" or "god says it's baaaaaaaaaad" or "our loving, forgiving god is gonna condemn all you sinners to hellfire for eternity" or "not even magic pyjamas will protect you from the consequences of your sinful deeds" ...I could go on and on, and just might!
But the irony doesn't stop there. Nevada is ranked 50th (basically last) for education in the states. What are the ethical (and practical) implications of a policy that further decimates an already crumbling government service. Can Nevada really afford to cut education? How can you have a stong economy with high skill/education/wage jobs when most of the population has only basic literacy at best. Has anyone seen the movie "Idiocracy"? It's already happening...I meet these people every day. Maybe they are intentionally cutting this program as a pre-emptive defensive strike against qualified critics.
So, what do? After I received the news from my dept. head that the program had been cancelled the theme song for A-team and/or Mission Impossible started playing in my head as I tried to devise a plan using nothing but my wits and a compooter. First thing I did was type random keys on my computer so if anyone were filming me it would look like I was typing something really important, really fast. Then I turned my computer on.
The next thing I did was run to my car, jump in through the open window and peel out. I am a man of action. I get shit done. After circling the block, I came back into my house at sat down at my computer now that it had booted up. (Did I mention I bought more MEGS of RAM for it? It's really improved the MEGA pixles.) I checkout out the two closest universities that offer masters programs in philosophy and discovered that I can register as a general grad student until Aug. 1.
After a day or two I decided I'd go to Arizona State University because it's close to Vegas and I love the desert climate. There's a catch--actually a few. Because Arizona is home to many right wing nut jobs (anything the gov't tells you to do is by definition baaaaad) and alt-med people (anything from the "medical-industrial complex" is by definition designed to make you sick!) there's a strong anti-vaccination movement there. This means no herd immunity. The enlightened folk and ASU don't want any viral outbreaks on campus (who can blame them) so enrolment is contingent on proof of having had your MMR vaccine.
I had my shots when I was an infant but where the crap am I going to get documentation of this. Does anyone really have their childhood vaccine documentation? Especially when it was done in the pre-computer era? Unfortunately, after being passed around and spending inordinate amounts of time on hold with the Skeena Valley Health Authority I was told that they only had records going back to 1984 (I had my first shot in 1976...wow! I'm old!).
Luckily, there is an out. You can get a blood test that (hopefully) shows immunity to MMR. Got that scheduled for Mon. After that I can register for classes.
So, check this out. Classes start Aug. 16th i.e. in one month. So, I basically need to leave Las Vegas in 20 days to give myself time to find a place to live, buy books and get settled before class.
Not all is rosey though...As a general grad student only 3 classes can be used as credit toward a degree program. All degree programs start in the fall. This means I'm going to go to school for 1 semester, apply for the degree program beginning the following fall, then wait for 9 months before I (assuming I'm accepted) start again fall 2011. I already waited a freakin' year to start at UNLV. Oh, well, it's not like I have other options. Anyway, that sums things up as they stand right now. Hopefully, I'll have good news early next week about the blood test and will be able to register for classes. I guess the lesson here is, to use a hackneyed marketing line for bad action movies, professional wrestling and monster truck exibitions, "expect the unexpected".