On The Department of Student Life

The Maharishi University of Management (MUM) Department of Student Life is a wonderful concept at it’s core. I’ve turned to the department on numerous occasions to express various grievances with my academic experience. However, I’ve witnessed how busy this department can become and it’s my opinion that the university lacks the fundamental resources to achieve it’s well intended vision.

In my experience, there’s always a seemingly sincere ear ready and willing to listen to students’ hardships and challenges. But after communication I would often leave the session wondering what the resolve would be. In my case, while the department would go the distance to welcome students’ problems, it too often would lack concise resolve or solutions, leaving me wondering what — if any — difference was made. This is much the reason I would tuck my frustrations away in the back of my mind, or pursue solutions on my own.

And respecting the payload of the Student Life department, I’d found myself discerning which problems were worth addressing from those that weren’t; though all my issues were worthy of the department’s attention. My attitude became one of feeling that it didn’t make a difference in my experience, aside from emotional support. It’s like ordering orange juice and receiving water; your thankful for the water and subsequent hydration, but still long for the nectar. I was often wondering why my experiences even happened in the first place, and I rarely wanted to hear about how I needed to change my outlook or perspective on things that were certainly beyond the scope of a professional academic context.

I would often resort to email, rather than schedule appointments which would require additional time from my limited free time, nor did I desire to sacrifice valuable class time to bring attention to aspects of the education that were certainly not exclusively my experience. Moreover, I was often so frustrated by particular things that I could sometimes barely hold myself together, for fear of loosing my cool.

Many times I would waffle back and forth, trying to convince myself that it was a problem with me, my perception, and ability to see the positive in the negative; they teach us that knowledge is as the knower is; that my citation of frustrating experience is largely, or in part, the result of a deficiency in my outlook on my education.

For the lack of resolve in respect to my grievances, I ultimately felt there was a lack of accountability. Sometimes I felt responses from faculty suggested that my expectations were too high, and was once told in effect that if I didn’t like it I could always leave, that no one was forcing me to stay.

But the truth of the matter is that so many students, and perhaps faculty, are so invested — fiscally and academically — that in some ways we are essentially forced to stay, less we endure the hardship of initializing a new context for our lives when cutting losses.

On an administrative level it’s unfair to both students and faculty alike, because stresses and fears on a subtle level give rise to gross complications on an academic level, particularly in the classroom. This issue of trying to do too much with too little further illustrates how limited resources take a toll on the whole.

What gives? I don’t have the answers. Then again, it’s not my ambition — nor duty in my role as student — to consistently combat the gross negligence of the university. I’ve addressed a majority of the entries on this website with the Department of Student Life, either in person or by email, with little more than a “… we’ll pass it on” or “I had no idea…”.

While the university, as a not for profit, seems to lack the necessary resources, it also has a split personality; Quick to “care”, slow to “act.” Perhaps it’s a role-strain, or role-stress, as many it’s constituents serve multiple functions compensated by marginal stipends; A professor may also serve concurrently as an administrator, TM Teacher, and so forth.