Happy Feet more enticing than expected
By Madeline Johnson
After multiple “friendly reminders” and location changes, my first core advising meeting of sophomore year was set for Monday September 14 at 1:00. No, 1:30. Actually, let’s switch it back to 1:00. Thanks! I begrudgingly sat in a room with a total of 5 other students as my advisor said that he was sorry to admit that he probably wouldn’t be much help to us this semester. He explained that he was going on sabbatical and conducting research on penguins in South Africa. Scheduled to leave that Thursday. As in three days from this under-ten-minute meeting. He would be studying penguins for 6 weeks, and while he would have access to email most of the time, we should expect a bit of a delayed response. We can totally still reach out to him though! Except for 8 days when he’d be secluded on an island with no human contact. Not then. While his expertise in the biological sciences department is admirable, this inconvenience is, in short, unacceptable as I begin slowly panicking over major declarations, courses that would best benefit me, and how to start an internship search. I asked for a backup contact advisor who we should contact with questions, and was assured that he would follow up the meeting with an email containing pertinent information (no email was received). I stayed after the meeting to ask about how to get started with internships, and the response was literally, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe ask a professor.” Okay.
Disgruntled and not sure of who to reach out to, I contacted the Assistant Dean for the Sophomore class, Dean Lenis. A brief email explaining my concern was immediately answered with a scheduled appointment time, and later that week I hauled ass up three flights in Keating to the unknown land of the Dean’s office. Punctually called in by an assistant right at the time of my appointment, Dean Lenis immediately impressed me as a professional woman who could, in short, get shit done. Already a bit relieved, I told her why I would prefer an advisor who is accessible and actively on campus. Without batting an eye, she offered to personally help me in whatever way needed throughout the rest of the semester. Questions about studying abroad? Shoot her an email. Concerned about scheduling? Book an appointment. After expressing a genuine interest in my intended major, she advised me further on how to get involved in my field of study. She was thorough, friendly, and while we met for the same ten minute time period as my academic advising meeting, I left her office feeling confident in my semester. While not my academic advisor, Dean Lenis is truly my academic angel.
I’m not trying to demonize my academic advisor, who is very accomplished in his field and held in high esteem throughout the biology department. While he is involved, he is not the root of the problem in this situation. The system of core academic advising is clearly flawed, as my personal experience has showed. It would have been easy to split up and reassign 6 students to different advising groups with people that would have been actually on the continent. It would have been easy to possibly try to match these students with advisors and professors with similar fields of study to their intended major. This was pure laziness. The core advising program that boasts to prepare students for, “major declaration, study abroad programs, undergraduate research, internships, and all other opportunities you will receive that Fordham” (http://www.fordham.edu/info/22216/core_advising). Yes, the official fordham.edu core advising website says “that” and not the grammatically correct “at,” I’m not misquoting here. The lack of effort in this situation concerns me. Fordham is supposed to be assisting students with furthering their academics and preparing them for the real world. How am I supposed to “go forth and set the world on fire” if my personal advisor is unreachable by anyone other than a penguin?