As my time here at St. John’s comes to a close, I want to take a moment to assess the service and quality of some of the major offices and departments here on campus that students frequent. There are some great offices here, and while I’d like to be able to say that all my experiences have been great, unfortunately this is not the case.
So let’s get started. I present this report card of major St. John’s offices in hope that the administration will give praise where credit is due, and implement improvements where they are needed for the sake of future St. John’s students. In an attempt to be succinct and general, I’ve picked six offices that every student here will find himself or herself dealing with at some point during their four years here.
Public Safety – (Grade: A) Adjacent to Gate Six, behind Donovan Hall
P-Safe, keeping it safe. That’s a tasty little rhyme I’ve heard countless times over the past four years, and it’s right on. I’ve really only had positive experiences with the officers of the Public Safety office, and they always seem courteous and helpful while keeping this urban campus safe. I can’t fault them for security policies I disagree with (like the sign-in procedures in the residence halls) because they just follow the orders they’re given. I appreciate the role that Public Safety has in the St. John’s community, and so I gladly give them high remarks.
Office of the Registrar – (Grade: A) Newman Hall, breezeway
In my many trips here, the staff of the Registrar has been knowledgeable, helpful and courteous. Really, this is what it’s all about when providing a service, and the folks at the Registrar generally do this right. I have to dock them some points because of the cluttered space and confusing layout of the office, but this is only a minor setback. Also, it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I figured out there was a difference between the Bursar and Registrar, so I advise St. John’s to adopt a more modern sounding name. The Office of the Registrar should really just be named the Office of Registration.
University Laptop shop – (Grade: C+) Sullivan Hall
I really wanted to stamp a good grade on the University laptop shop because the people who work there are pretty friendly, but unfortunately, the cons outweigh the pros. The laptop shop is understaffed and cramped for the amount of traffic they have coming to them. Many of the workers opt to simply replace hard drives to solve issues, so as a result most students go in there and simply have their hard drive yanked out, and another put in. This happened to me twice junior year, so I gave up and started using a simple $400 Sony laptop, which has been an improvement. The laptop shop has made efforts to provide better service, but they still have some ways to go.
The Office of Residence Life – (Grade: D) Basement of Donovan Hall
Though I have now lived off campus for two years, as a resident student I had nothing but confusing, aggravating experiences with the Office of Residence Life. I feel comfortable assuming nothing has changed and giving them this grade because I’ve heard only stories of frustration from current resident students. The organization that this office adheres to sometimes seems nonexistent, and the room selection process is routinely a yearly nightmare for students. The policies they enforce for signing in guests (both STJ and non-STJ guests) are inconvenient, annoying and unnecessary. They also love to fine and punish you for missing the housing deposit and other deadlines. Considering the future of St. John’s rests largely in residence living, I hope the University can improve the Office of Residence Life dramatically.
Office of Student Financial Services – (Grade: F) Bent Hall, Carnesecca Plaza
The Office of Student Financial Services has been an annual frustration for me at the beginning of almost every semester since my freshman year. It’s a challenge to pinpoint what about this office is going wrong, but I think it starts with the probability that no department within Financial Services communicates with each other or other offices in the University.
If you call this office, expect to be on hold and transferred multiple times, then have to explain why you’re calling to every person you speak to. As with the Office of Res Life, fines, fees and deadlines are common. Bottom line, I give the Office of Student Financial Services a failing grade because they don’t provide a good service and make life for students harder than it needs to be.
Queens Health Center – (Grade: Incomplete) DaSilva Hall
Maybe my expectations are off, or maybe I’m overestimating the amount of resident students who require medical attention during the school year, but I can’t justify giving the Queens campus Health Center a passing mark. In fact, I can’t give them a grade at all because they really aren’t offering the services that a normal health office should. Once again, great service and helpful workers are what add to a positive student experience, and this is simply not the case here. The hours are limited, and the hours where you can get attention from an actual physician are even slimmer.
To add to that, the staffers tend to be uninterested in your ailments and unable to provide any real medical care. This is a problem, considering students come from all over the world to live on this campus; medical assistance should not be lacking in any way. Students should not have to go to the crowded Queens Hospital for stitches or minor diagnoses – they pay enough to live here as it is. It is my hope that the University will improve the campus Health Center in the coming years for the sake of all future residents.
And with that, this concludes my assessment of the most visited offices here at St. John’s, as determined by my four year stint as a St. John’s student. If you disagree with any of these grades, get your own column in the school newspaper. That, or e-mail me.