Wednesday, January 14, 2015
By Margo Page
“You get what you pay for” is not always true, but in the case of Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), it is. The current state of the school is complete disorder. This is not helped by the uninvolvement of the new President of the college, Dr. Gordon F. May. Although Winter Session 2015 is currently in session, Dr. Gordon F. May has been working from home the entire past week, confirmed by his direct assistant, Valerie McQueen-Bey.
Although I have degrees from other institutions, I decided to take a course I need for a certification from BCCC. Although I knew that it didn’t have a great reputation, I prefer to not judge without first-hand experience. I was completely ignorant as to the extent of it’s poor reputation, and that it is currently losing state funding as well as at risk of losing it’s accreditation (4). Therefore, my personal experience was unbiased.
Although I was told by staff in the admissions and registration office that I would be assigned an advisor and enrolled in the class, I was not. Apparently they are not able to keep track of new students and therefore many fall through the cracks. I thought this would be solved by a quick follow-up to the admissions office. As it was too late to enroll at another college, I was determined to straighten out my enrollment at BCCC. Every day for 6 days, I spoke on the phone at length with multiple people (list below article). Each person I spoke with had a very pleasant manner, and promised me they would straighten out this administrative error. However, each time, I was ultimately referred to someone else. I then had to wait to get in touch with this next person as they were often out to lunch, in a meeting, and on one particular day, at a staff funeral. Through this multiple transferring and waiting process, the drop/add period passed. After this drop/add period passed, everyone I spoke with then citied that as a reason that I could no longer enroll in the course. I insisted that I was already told I was enrolled before the course even started, and that since this was an administrative error, an exception should be made so that I could join the course. However, no amount of explaining this simple situation seemed to enlighten anyone I spoke with. Each person promised me they would fix the error, and reassured me that I simply needed to wait for them to get it approved by someone els. Hours or a day later when I called or emailed them again, they robotically insisted that because the drop/add period had passed, I could not enroll in the course.
I now realize that the pleasantry of everyone I spoke with was not a result of general kindness and concern, but instead the definition of passive-aggressive behavior, “the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination… or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible (3).” I was floored at the off-handed treatment I was receiving from the people I spoke with (see list below article). But I thought that if I could get in touch with the President of the college, at least he would surely be able to comprehend this situation and have the authority to correct it. However, he was “working from home” the past week, and did not answer my email personally, but instead had his assistant Valerie send me a rote email response.
Perhaps BCCC’s profound disorganization and lack of regard for students are some of the reasons BCCC has the lowest graduation rate of any higher level institution in the state of Maryland (1). Another student describes BCCC as “Chaos. It is so disorganized, I’m surprised it’s still operating… The school was recently sued for $10 million by a student who claimed that she was discriminated against. The student won, because BCCC never bothered to answer the complaint (2).” In June 2014, BCCC was officially accused of not having “a well-developed strategic plan, which could then help the university better allocate spending (4).”
If BCCC can fork over 10 million to a student complaint without even attempting to defend itself (2), it seems fair to assume that BCCC is corrupt. Interestingly enough, the professor of the course I was suppose to be enrolled in (Professor Virgie Mason) never responded to my email the first day of class, and other staff I spoke with told me that she did not respond to their emails either. Perhaps she is not even teaching a course right now, but is instead pocketing money for a class that exists only on the books. In 2002, BCCC experienced a steep increase in part-time faculty, which, as stated in the audit, “raises questions of adequate supervision and academic quality controls (1).”
BCCC is currently under an accreditation warning. State funding is currently being cut. BCCC is the only community college funded by the state (4). However, an accreditation warning and cuts in funding are not enough. State funding should be cut-off completely and immediately. BCCC needs to be shut down because it is a cesspool of people leeching off of tax payers money. Even worse, this college demotivates students, primarily from Baltimore City, who are trying to further their education by giving these students endless run-arounds and completely disregarding their concerns. Even for students who are able to (by complete chance and staff whim) enroll in courses, the classes themselves have an abhorrent reputation for disorganization and completely inept teachers (2). The state of Maryland needs to investigate and prosecute white collar fraud crimes at BCCC. Working for an organization that you know is corrupt is amoral. Every person working at BCCC is partly responsibility for it’s unethical practices. Corruption in Baltimore City needs to be eliminated. BCCC is an easy place to start.
List of people at BCCC with whom I spoke with directly (excluding people who do not have official titles):
Katie Baker, assistant in the President’s office
Melvin Brooks, Dean
Nicole Cameron-Becketts, Dean, Student Development
Virginia (Susie) Forbes, Administrative Coordinator, Academic Affairs
Clara Joyner, Administrative Assistant III, Student Affairs
Nena Kutniewski, Transcript Processor
Nikita Lemon, Assistant to President for Board Relations
Valerie McQueen-Bey, President’s direct assistant
Tonja Ringgold, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Sylvia Rochester, Associate Director of Records and Registration/Interim Registrar
Carol Taylor, Administrative Assistant III, Student Affairs
Sheila Scott, Administrative Assistant, Student Affairs
Tina Scott, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs
People I emailed or called at BCCC who did not respond:
Gordon F May, President and CEO
Virgie Mason, Associate Professor of English
Dennis Weeks, Dean of School of Arts and Social Sciences
Ron H. Smith, Vice President of Student Affairs
Further reading about BCCC:
Further reading about the 2014 President Gordon F May: