Dear School of Engineering,
We need to talk. As a student in the Master of Software Engineering program and the graduate student senator for the School of Engineering, I’m feeling dismissed and unloved.
You recently changed the requirements of the Master of Software Engineering program, the one I signed up for when the degree requirements were 36 credits, to 30 credits. I thought we had an understanding about our commitments to each other. But there was no meeting, email, not even a text about this change. I heard a rumor about the requirements change and dug through your catalog to find the new requirements.
When I met with the department head and assistant dean about the changes and lack of communication, I was told that you didn’t want to “distract” me because I was obligated to finish out my degree program under the requirements that I applied for. I can handle the news, but you made me feel patronized, behaving as though you were sneaking this change in and hoping that I wouldn’t notice.
When I asked if there would be any efforts made to remediate this change for current students, because that’s about $5,000 and one academic year of my life that I’m never getting back, you reacted as though I was being completely unreasonable. And perhaps it was too much to hope for some tuition credit for the current students. But was it expecting too much for you to consider the consequences of these decisions to currently enrolled students? Because I cannot believe you thought we would be satisfied with the complete lack of action or communication from the administration.
When I asked for more transparency about the decision making process, a voice in this important conversation and a commitment for more effort to communicate with us (Seriously, if I can get an email about the Fairfield at Night weekly Gonzaga Auditorium movie, but not one about updated program requirements in my department, you’re not trying) your response was at best, tepid. Not communicating harbors ill will and breaks relationships.
I get that I’m not the only student in the sea, that you need a pipeline of graduate students to keep the program viable. So what if University of New Haven has a comparable master’s program that requires 30 credits? Sacred Heart University, Quinnipiac University and Southern Connecticut State University all require 36. If you want suggestions on how to do that, we have some. How about offering required courses no earlier than 6:30 p.m., like SCSU, so that working students don’t have to compromise their work schedules? Health insurance is a serious concern for many domestic graduate students. Fairfield revoked coverage in 2016. Can we get that back? We can certainly offer an earful about our classes and professors too.
I will soon be out in the work force and people will ask me what I thought about my experiences at Fairfield University, or some poor student working for Fairfield University’s endowment campaign will call me up and ask for a donation. When these questions are asked, I will remember some really great professors, classmates and things I’ve learned here. I will also remember how some of the administration made me feel that once I was enrolled, my concerns were not important. I will remember some professors who were only going through the motions, classmates who hadn’t spoken to me all semester emailing me to ask for my notes and that we were taught dated material that was promptly ejected from my mind after the test I memorized it for.
All joking aside, I ask you again to communicate with me and my fellow graduate students in a forthright and transparent manner.
Jung Soo Kim