Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mount Saint Vexation University

I'm taking a masters in education degree at Mount Saint Vincent University through a cohort program. In essences, it's a fast track arrangement where a part-time degree gets completed within two calendar years instead of it taking 3 or more if you register and select courses independently.

That's about where the pluses end. The list of annoyances and hassles is legend.

There's the closure of the cafeteria in the building my classes take place in by 7 pm in the evening, so that if the prof loses track of time you're stuck trying to buy junk food from perpetually sold out vending machines with change you can't get from the perpetually empty change machine with money you can't get from an ATM that's a half kilometer walk up a mountain to get to (not to mention the lady who begins to stand by the entrance and starts glaring students down at 6:45 sharp as they go in to make sure they know to get the heck out because she's not sticking around one second longer).

There's the seven different user IDs (none of which are identical to the ID code on your student ID card, which makes TOTAL sense) you need to log into the student information management portal, the library services log in that's buried 8 clicks deep in the library website and the inability to use your student ID to pay for printing on campus (gotta love those honour system donation cans next to laser printers all throughout Seton Academic Centre), and the student webmail interface where your email address has NOTHING to do with your login ID.

But what I love most of all? The parking Nazis at MSVU. The office where parking passes can be purchased is conveniently located ALL the way at the top of a massive hill a 5 minute hike from ANY parking lot close to the main academic building where my classes are held. A pass to park in lots that are 85% void of vehicles after 4:30 pm is $7... There's always the pay to park option, although by looking at the signage around the payment kiosques it would seem to the naked eye that there are 4 total spots you can use this service in that are never empty (and the webpage where parking rates are listed doesn't tell you how you can pay, but like everything else on campus, it's cash only, and if you don't have cash, you can walk 10 minutes up the mountain to the ATM, try and get change out of one of the perpetually empty change machines, and then walk 10 minutes back to the pay and display kiosque, then back to your car and THEN go to class).

The parking meters closest to the building I take classes in are routinely full when I arrive for class, so getting a pass is an enormous hassle that generally means I would be 10-15 minutes late for class to get one.

So when I walk out at night and see a sea of parking tickets on car windows that belong largely to full time teachers taking night classes, my blood boils.

The kicker? The parking tickets, issued on PRIVATE PROPERTY owned exclusively by MSVU, aren't MSVU tickets payable to the Mount- they're Halifax Regional Police tickets that ensure that you're out $32 and potentially points on your licence if you don't pay within the 4 nanosecond limit before you're summoned to court to explain why, as a full time teacher who can't leave their workplace until 55 minutes before class starts, then travel home by car pool to get the one family vehicle in time to rush to class while driving through the biggest construction project in recent memory on the highway right before the exit to get to the university and take 30 minutes to go to one building and the ATM that only dispenses $20 bills that ensure you'll get 2 kg of change from the pay and display kiosk or change machine, or then the building with the security desk where you can buy the pass, and THEN drive to the lot that isn't a 10 minute hike from the building your class is in, you didn't have a valid parking pass.

Here's hoping Alexa McDonough gets wind of the genius logistics of this university and does something about it. I can tell you I won't be attending the school again, and neither will my kids, and anyone I meet considering spending money there will get a comprehensive picture of how frustrating a place it is to go to class and get stuck with idiotic municipal tickets because you parked in a parking lot at a school where ALL offices are closed before you ever parked your car.

The Canadian university to offer a masters degree for teachers in an entirely online format will be getting heavy consideration from me for my next qualification upgrade.

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