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Kalamalama - Hawai'i Pacific University Student Newspaper

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Canceled courses affect student expectations at HPU

    By Maren Bjoergum. February 27, 2013 - 11:42 am

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When I was 7 years old I decided that I did not like math.

It was a decision based on poor judgment and other factors I can’t really remember anymore, but it led to years of pain as I suffered through calculus and related dreadfulness in middle school and high school. My solace tended to be my mum’s mantra on the subject: “As soon as you get to university level you can to pick whichever class you want, and just focus on the fun stuff!” And it turned out to be true. Kind of.

When I applied to HPU I was thrilled to browse through their course calendar, and I had my entire degree planned out before I had even been accepted to the school. I have been able to enjoy about two-thirds of the classes I really wanted, which is a far better score than a lot of people I have been talking to lately.

In our last issue we published an article about frustrated students who in their senior year get degree requirement classes cancelled and students whose schedules get rearranged a week before semester starts because of cancellations. A friend of mine jokingly told us that HPU has cancelled every single class he had wanted to take since he started his degree here, as if the school had some kind of vendetta against him.

Now, the administration probably does not have a vendetta against him personally, but it does highlight a disturbing trend.

This semester HPU canceled 163 classes before semester start according to faculty leaders. 66 of these had students enrolled in them. That’s a lot.

When we applied to HPU, decided to pay tuition and attend this university instead of UH, Chaminade, a Mainland college or any other university, we were buying a product. As university students we are customers as much as we are consumers, and as customers we have a right to get what we are paying for.

Students overall seem to forget this because it’s a school. But that does not change the fact that HPU as a private business is selling us a product. And part of that product is the courses available to the student.

When I applied for the MA-COM program one of the courses I really wanted to take was Literary Journalism. It was on the degree plan offered by the university, it was listed as an available class for the spring semester and I signed up for it. And it got canceled.

Later I found out that the last time the class was actually held was in Spring 2011.

This is the reality with a lot of classes offered at HPU. The university hides behind notions like the fact that the classes are offered as a direct study alternative during the summer semester, but in order for that to actually work you are dependent upon a) getting a teacher that’s actually willing to teach it in the summer, and also b) on the fact that you can afford it. Most students can’t. They spend the summer working in order to be able to pay for rent and tuition and food and all other costs during the regular semester.

The result is that we as students don’t get the education we signed up for. Yes, we get a degree, but it wont be the degree we paid for when we signed up to be students at HPU.

For my part calculus is still off the table, but so is Literary Journalism and possibly a lot of other classes I want to sign up for. Unless the university makes some changes. Will you demand it? Or are you content with paying for more than you’re getting?