Loss of Counselor Frustrates Students

Megan Cunningham is the counselor for the Visual Arts department here at UCSD. She deals with more than 650 students, helping them chose the right classes and make tough decisions about their majors. She basically helps each student in deciding his or her future. Her job is definitely not easy. Not only must she deal with the frustrations and confusion of over 650 artists, she has to do it all by herself.

If anyone were to visit Megan’s office, they would find a long line of students outside her door. She is available for just 3 hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 6 hours on Tuesdays and Fridays. That might not seem too bad, but if you think about it, you’d change your mind. For example, say she was able to crank out a session every 10 minutes.

That would mean that she would be able to see 18 students on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and twice that on Tuesday and Friday. That’s 126 students a week. That’s with no breaks and no leeway, which is pretty impossible because some students need more help. No one can work like a robot (although Megan comes pretty close at times). Besides, there are over 650 students! (I do realize that in reality not all 650 show up at once, but it sure does feel that way when you’re waiting all afternoon for an appointment.)

Cindy Fang, a second year ICAM major, said that she once waited 30 minutes in line, went to class, came back, and waited until the end of the day, and still was not able to see Megan. There are many stories of frustration and angst from the ICAM and VA students concerning the lack of accessibility. Megan is well aware of the problem herself and has talked to her employers but to no avail. Now she has left and art students will have to go to someone who does not possess the 16 years of experience that Megan does, for guidance.

This ticks me off. I am a third year, tuition-paying student majoring in Media, and I expect the university to keep my best interests in mind. I believe that, just as I am responsible for going to class and doing the work, the university has a responsibility to provide me with adequate and competent counselors to advise me on the best way in which to go about graduating. I do not believe that by refusing to hire someone to help Megan and letting her leave was beneficial to the students in the least.

It does not make me feel secure knowing that for the remainder of this year and the next, I will be going to someone who is new to Megan’s job (since she was the only one doing it before) and is learning as he or she goes. After all, who’s going to train him or her with Megan gone?

Maybe I’m overreacting, which is doubtful, but it just doesn’t make sense to me why the Art Department would refuse to hire someone whom Megan can train to help her. You would think that they’d be tired of the throngs of students that congregate in the cramped courtyard in front of the Visual Arts office, but apparently not. Although they might not mind the long lines, the students certainly do, and a new-be at the desk won’t help to shorten them anytime soon.

Think about that. Here we are paying all this tuition, (and overpriced material fees if you’ve ever taken any VIS or ICAM classes), and they refuse to hire another advisor to alleviate not only Megan’s suffering, but the students’ as well. Does this sound stupid to anyone else?