2010/01 – Unworthy

More institutional rejection came today.  My "petition", required to allow me to take more than 18 credit-hours of classes, was denied.  This cuts me off from legitimate registrance in 3 of my 5 desired classes.  (I wrote on my other page about an automobile accident that I thought would cost me so much that I couldn’t think of taking extra classes, but the result has been less harsh, and I have gone ahead with all the classes.)
I’m aware that the teacher of 1 of my 3 disallowed classes has previously accommodated a walk-in student, off the books, who regularly attended.  The teacher of another class, I have already seen admit visitors and ask potential students if they planned to "visit".  The teacher of the last, as I have partially overheard, will possibly allow one student’s husband to "help" her in the class (which may involve attendance).
The 2 classes that I’m already registered for are a bit larger and may be easier to attend unnoticed, but on the other hand, their decision-makers may pay stricter attention to the enrollment records.
Instead of even bringing up the question to the 3 disallowed-class teachers, I may decide to just imply ignorance of why I’m not on the rolls, since, obviously, I’ve been attending dutifully and have secured teacher permission and everything.
How do I justify off-record attendance?
Well, the petition office refused because, said they, the school wanted to keep a balance between income and services provided.  That office had already informed me that teacher permission was sought because the teacher wasn’t to be burdened by extra students who weren’t actually enrolled, but since all of the teachers have already allowed me to audit their classes, that isn’t an argument against my attendance; only that the school is somehow "losing money" by providing me with instruction and not getting paid for it.
Now, the teachers themselves won’t make any more or less money whether they have 11 students or 12 students sitting in their class.  The school isn’t rewarding them at all for their teaching of one extra student, as long as they’re still within their enrollment limit (and if that is exceeded, they have to decide if more students can be taken, either by expanding the class or opening another class; and opening another class would give some teacher [probably not them] more employ; but in that case, the school would lose that extra salary that the teacher gained; so the school is better off maximizing their student-to-teacher ratio, as much as is bearable and doesn’t hurt enrollment).  Rather, then, it’s not the teachers but the school itself that is providing the "services" of: 1) housing students (and the lights, heat, and teaching equipment won’t be used any more or less regardless of whether I’m sitting there in those half-empty classrooms), 2) attracting teachers and matching students up with those teachers, and 3) providing a small percentage of a university degree for every class a student takes.
Number 3, of course, doesn’t apply to audit students.  The only things the school provides them are #1 (again, not on an individual but on a collective scale — expenses that won’t change at all with normal fluctuations of student enrollment) and #2.  How much does the #2 service actually cost?  Actually, there is some flexibility in determining real costs.  Interning students abroad are charged tuition for credits toward their degree even if they’re not on campus or receiving instruction from any teacher, as if it’s the degree that’s being purchased; but audit students, who receive no actual degree, are charged precisely the same amount, as if the degree has no monetary value but the instruction (that is, the teacher provision) does.  And if it’s instruction that has value, then there’s a very major structural flaw — a monopoly of administration, as it were — if the actual providers of the instruction (teachers) don’t directly profit from increasing the number of students.  But it must be admitted that students, in the end, are purchasing degree-resultant training with their tuition fees, not simply training.  (Actually, training is implicit in the degree; you can never buy a degree without training, except perhaps in non-functioning academic scenarios.)  If you took away degrees, the student body here would dwindle to the patronage of a local library.
I have to conclude that the service of locating teachers for students (#2) has no definable monetary value, at least on the individual level.  So, if I were to visit classes on my own, the school, in fact, would be losing nothing measurable, especially since the classes aren’t helping me toward a faster degree; and it would be gaining only the noteriety that it accumulates from me through a lifetime of résumé submissions and references (and the donations I may be inspired to give).
I think it was a silly decision to reject my request.  I think it was made in stubbornness, not logic.  Their decision doesn’t save them even ten bucks; there simply won’t be currency exchanged in this situation, because they’ve already established a tuition ceiling.  If I had to pay the full price of those classes, I wouldn’t take the classes; they’re not really worth it.  Only a university degree is worth the insane price of a university education.  But if I don’t have to pay it, I’ll take them.  All I really hope to do is gather up in my arms some of the excess information being sploshed out onto the classroom floors, wasted, forever lost…
The situation is not unlike a pizza store telling one of its very poor customers that, no, they can’t take any leftover pizzas at the end of the day — and instead committing the pizzas to the dumpster in honour of some perverted idea of integrity: that something never be exchanged for nothing at their imagined expense, even if that means converting their extra somethings into nothings.  Managers of such stores are always chained up by a maddening "what if":  "If I give something away for free, then I MIGHT lose a customer who would have paid otherwise."  Well, pizza store, it just might happen, because you have no expiration dates on your customers, and they might come again and again, forever, continually eating at nobody’s expense and maybe someday actually NOT BUYING something that they might have bought.  All your miserliness might, in the end, save you your ten bucks.  But a guy can’t stay at BYU for very long, and the chances are very slim that a credit limit will ever spill over into an additional tuition purchase, and get BYU any more money.
What’s a real credit limit?
…However many hours a person has in a week (and, collectively, however many total chair-hours you can squish into all your classrooms in a day).  When the space is available, if a guy can take 40 or 50 hours of classes, let him do it.  Let him eat the pizzas you throw away, BYU.  If not, he’ll simply resort to dumpster-raiding, because hardly anybody can stand the stupidity of throwing away perfectly good stuff… or of wasting perfectly good teaching on a classful of empty chairs.  And the teachers who value their craft will be like the kindly sub-managers who turn a blind eye to dumpster raiders.
If they were really smart, both pizza stores and BYU, they’d minimize their losses by selling those leftover things at a reduced price while creatively mitigating their liability.  They could eliminate the waste entirely and come out farther ahead.  Even cheap Steve would be willing to pay for superfluous language classes if the price was right.  No school as good as BYU needs to ever have empty classrooms, except by refusing to make the necessary choices.
School, anyway, has been good.  I haven’t had quite enough time, but there haven’t been repercussions so far.  On Monday I met Kim Jeong-un.  I also startled about four doe deer on my way home that night.  Yesterday, I fed the ducks at the pond.  I attend five language classes currently; the least familiar one is Thai.  I’m in the middle of applying for two new jobs, one an internship.
P.S.  And… somebody just asked me (right before bailing offline) what my MSN status remark was about… as if she didn’t know that for three years now, almost all of my MSN tags have been about her.
Someday, maybe, I’ll find a good one who’s worth it.
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One Response to 2010/01 – Unworthy

  1. Steve says:

    After my perhaps stronglier-than-necessary worded response, the records office demonstrated unexpected good sense by e-mailing me back today and allowing me one extra class.I consulted with both my Korean and Thai teachers. It turns out the Thai teacher was the one who was least attached to teaching and most attached to policy. Of course, she used to be a social worker. The (white) Korean teacher was a true teacher; in fact, her field was rather linguistics and TESOL than ever Korean-teaching. And I already know the pure-mindedness of my Viet teacher. Late in the afternoon, I returned to the office and asked them to sign me up for the Thai class.Apparently… it has all worked out…

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