Letter to the Editor 1/26/11

To the Editor:

“Congratulations!” the letter read last summer; I had just been accepted into the Physician’s Assistant program here for the class of 2012.  With little time to spare I went about the same business we all have in preparing for school.  It was now time to navigate the paper and electronic maze through the Registrar, Bursar, and Financial Aid offices, and so on.  One day, while holding on a phone call to one of the University’s departments, I heard a pre-recording stating “All students get a laptop!”  That sounded good to me since St. John’s tuition is significant and the nature of my program makes working a difficult venture.

Then I went online and saw…

“Of course, Physician Assistant students also benefit from the outstanding resources all St. John’s students enjoy. For example, all new students receive their own wireless laptop computer with full access to St. John’s award-winning network.”

“When you enroll as a full-time freshman or transfer student at St. John’s University, you get a wireless laptop computer for your entire St. John’s career.”

“The objective of the Laptop Program is to give students equal access to technology and to provide faculty with a mobile computer option. The program began in Fall 2003, when all incoming full-time freshmen received notebook computers. As of Fall 2004, St. John’s expanded the program to include all transfers and readmitted students.”

Sounds good doesn’t it…

That was until I heard “You’re not eligible for a laptop.”  First by my Advisor, then the PA Program director, then by Assistant Dean of Allied Health Jennifer Miranda-Velazquez, then the Manager of IT Karen Brosi, then the Associate Director Charles Pizzo, and so on up the chain.  It was less about “no” than “know.”  Meaning, you can have a policy, but at least have a good explanation.  Why promote something as available to everyone when it really is not?

To their credit, the above individuals do not set policy and were following protocol.  However, as students I feel that if any of us have an issue with a particular policy we should at least have the right to clarification and consideration.  If anything, I feel that we should be directed to the person in charge rather than run our wagons in a circle trying to figure out the next step.  With no clear answer and my follow-ups ignored, I feel that this “service oriented” university failed to deliver.

Apparently being a Full-time certificate student has its limits; no laptop, no St. John’s University scholarships, and so on.  Tuition without Comparable Equity.  I basically get to pay Full-time tuition like everyone else except am limited in resources.

While other certificate programs are short in duration, mine is a full two years.  In fact, I will spend more time in class this academic year (an estimated 35-40 hours of instruction per week) than the average student.  Add another 15-20 hours of studying on top of that and you can get a clearer picture.  As someone who already holds a degree, I can tell you that the demands of this program are intense and limit personal time considerably.

St. John’s University’s Laptop program is a great idea and a progressive means towards bridging the gap in education and technology.  However, the literature (online and other media) does not accurately reflect this effort.  There are those who fall outside the lines that deserve consideration and a fair course of action.  I am certain I am not alone.  Policy, like all governances are made for reform and debate.   Due process if you will.  All students are supposed to be on the same footing with the same advantages and resources the school has to offer.  Everyone has a right to be heard and considered.

Otherwise, I’ll just be a Second Class citizen paying First Class rates.

Seth Greenberg

Class of 2012