campus

We Need to Talk…

30 November 2013

To: Melbourne Global Mobility

Cc: Arts Faculty, Melbourne Uni Bureaucracy

Subject: We need to talk…

Dear Melbourne Global Mobility,

It hurts me to write this, it really does, but there are things that I need to say to you. You mean too much to me for dishonesty. We’ve had some great times together, but there have been miserable times too, times that have made me question the sort of partner you can be.

You took five months to tell me my academic average wasn’t high enough for my first choice of placement, something I could have worked out in five minutes with a pocket calculator. Then you gave me a week to reapply for a different university in a different country. A week after I arrived in the chaos of Mexico I discovered that I wasn’t insured, because my insurance form hadn’t been in the pack of forms I’d collected from you. The subsequent buying of my own insurance cost me a lot of money. These things hurt me, they hurt me a lot, especially as I thought we trusted each other more than this.

But I know it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of your upbringing—a life spent in the systematic, pervasive and toxic world of tertiary paper-shuffling and red tape. It is your parents that I really resent, who seem only interested in crawling up the university ziggurat, and it is they who eventually got us to breaking point in our relationship.

In Mexico I had to decide on my subjects. The ones I had approved from Australia were either no longer offered or completely different to what I expected. Understandable, considering the University of Guadalajara doesn’t give subject descriptions to students. Soon though, I found a new set of classes to take and sought approval for them. I wish I’d known what I was in for.

One class in particular, Dramatic Genres, seemed to scare every department it came near. I was told I needed to have had it approved before I left Australia, that you couldn’t approve it before you had more information, that it wasn’t part of my major, and that it wasn’t “your area”. The English and Theatre Studies department even told me they couldn’t approve it because it wasn’t taught in English. I’m in Mexico! Nothing is! Do you think the study of world drama only exists in your language?

I eventually had to translate six pages of academic Spanish for you, and still you asked for more information on one particular learning objective. It would have been physically impossible for me to do this before I got here, like you repeatedly said I should have done. Why did you always seem to suspect I was trying to commit academic fraud? Why didn’t you trust me? Where was the care? Why, after wading through two sets of academic administration on opposite sides of the world, have I come to the conclusion that this Mexican state university, in one of the most corrupt and convoluted countries in the world, is more efficient than you?

I’m sorry to say these horrible things, but people need to know who you really are. They need to be careful when dealing with you, for while you have good intentions and a nice face, your core is rotten with years of bureaucratic callousness.

Thanks for the amazing times, and for showing me a great experience. You’re supposed to be academics, filled with the thirst for knowledge and discovery. But please take a look at yourself, and at the putrid, fearful, bitter, and suspicious culture that has engulfed you.

Yours sincerely,

From a land far away,

Randy Pausch


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