I fought the good fight...and I won!

Ha! I am so excited! I have been having problems with the Financial Aid department of my school since November. It’s really not worth getting into the details, but suffice to say that waited three months to tell me that my financial aid request was being halved (without reason), leaving me with a week to come up with my tuition for Fall 01; they lost TWO checks that were supposed to cover my tuition for this semester and winter semester; they took several weeks to process paperwork that should have taken days, which left me with no record of recieving sufficient aid; and though they made all the delays and mistakes, they sent my tuition bill to a collection agency where it was accruing 17% interest.

The bitch of it is, I spent at least an hour a week in their offices trying to get it straightened out. I was accused of flat-out lying about the existence of the lost checks (luckily, I have all my paperwork and copies of everything, so I could prove it). I was told that the Office of Accounting has never recieved a check - but after I signed it I sent it Fed Ex Express and had a freaking copy of the signature of the person in their office who signed for it! They sent me from one side of campus to another because they were unwilling to help me solve their problems. I discovered that the checks were missing; I discovered that the parent loan company had actually sent them and that the office lost them; I figured out why I recieved word so late that my tuition was insufficient. In the past three weeks I have visited the offices nine times, figuring out all this nonsense, and realizing how many mistakes they had made. I (no one else but me) got everything straightened out so that I was definitely recieving aid. I visited the offices, waited patiently, and was told that I didn’t know what I was talking about, that I was lying (which really pissed me off). I dealt with people who looked quickly at my file and then dismissed me, because they didn’t feel like dealing with this situation. I dealt with people who said, “we can’t help you, sorry” without even looking me in the eye. It was infuriating. I don’t like confrontation, but time and time again I was forced to say, “Your department made the mistakes. I have fixed the mistakes for you. I know it’s against the rules, but I have done nothing wrong and am being punished unfairly.” I just kept getting doors slammed in my face and worthless apologies.

I did all of this, and they weren’t going to let me register on time because the tuition isn’t paid still (it’s not being paid because they lost those checks and took so long processing them; the checks are in the mail, but it will be two weeks before I recieve them, and I’m supposed to register on Thursday).

Now, I didn’t complain too much about running their damn department for them. I didn’t complain when I had to trace all their mistakes and solve my problems without help, even though I don’t get paid to do that. I didn’t complain when some untrained student aid told me that obviously I wasn’t handling this situation properly (I did, however, ask her if she recognized my face and explain to her that I spent so much time in her office, I should recieve a paycheck; I did tell her she better remember my face because she was going to be sick of it in a week). I went to the highest level official in that department, and regardless of my situation, she still wouldn’t let me register. I was being punished for mistakes that were not my own, and I was incensed that I wasn’t being allowed to register on time.

So last week, I wrote a three-page letter (single-spaced) to the president, with copies sent to nine department heads at the university. I explained the situation in detail, told them that I was outraged, and asked them to remove the block on my registration and retrieve my balance from the collection agency, minus all the accrued interest. I hand-delivered the letters on Friday.

Today I got a phone call from the Dean of Financial Services (who recieved a copy). Apparently, the president of the school read my letter, and this guy got the brunt of it. He apologized profusely, promised that I would be allowed to register, told me to tell my friends that if they ever needed any help to call him, and said that he would do his best to retrieve my balance from the collection agency and see if he could speed up the checks I am waiting for.

I am so ecstatic about this! I battled with at least ten people in the past two weeks alone, moving higher and higher trying to get my registration clearance. Of all the countless people I spoke to, TWO actually helped me in any way. I got called a liar to my face and was treated like a pesky moron for questioning their actions. But I won this battle. I didn’t think anything would come of it (even the letters, I thought they were pointless). I am proud of myself for pursuing this - I was so sick of this bullshit, but I kept telling myself I had one more battle in me. I felt like I was being done a gross injustice, and so I fought against it, and I won!

I have been questioning whether law school is still my passion lately, just because so much seems to be decided based on money, privilige, class, and power; justice never seems to be served to the people who do deserve it. I believe in justice above all else, but I was losing faith and beginning to think that justice was a figment of my imagination. But I was dealt an injustice (however minor it may seem), I stook up for myself, I did what was necessary, and I earned the justice I deserved. This makes me very, very happy.

Go you.


Nicely done - never underestimate the power of a strongly worded letter - I’ve received free gifts, money, refunds for damaged property, written appologies, etc. etc. all because of poison pen letters.

It’s an excellent skill to have.

Well done! Good for you!

Sometimes people underestimate what a little anger and a whole lot of perseverance can accomplish.


A lot of the times, these situations develop because no one is willing to take the steps/accept the responsbility of getting things done right the first time! Gaaah! And they snowball, because people/students think that they can’t do anything, therefore, they don’t complain. If people don’t complain to the right places, the Powers That Be don’t know something’s broken. If they don’t know it’s broken, they can’t fix it.

Good for you for standing up for yourself! Hopefully this now means no other students will be caught in your situation!

<< Hip, hip, hurrah! >>

Very, very well done. I was in a similar (though not nearly as bad) situation in my university days. A few times actually. These fucking university administators think that the purpose of college is for them as opposed to the students and research professors.

One time I had a clerk in the book store tell me that I didn’t know what I was talking about when they had the wrong book for sale for one of my classes (it was a book about electrical circuits in a structural engineering class). I had to call the Engineering Dept myself to fix it.

My thorough contempt of beaurocrats stems from my college years.


Thanks, everyone! I’ve never persevered quite as thoroughly as I have in this situation, but I was irate enough to follow through, and I am grateful it paid off for me.

Tell me about it. I was referred to four different departments (all on opposite corners of campus, of course), none of whom could help me. Add to that the 40 BILLION dollar student union they just finished, which features giant flat-screen tvs that cost a semester’s worth of my tuition, and I am not too happy with my school right now.

Sounds like my campus. To get anything done you have to go to the admissions office, then walk half a mile to the registrar’s office, then another half a mile to the financial aid office, etc
You wanna talk building stuff? Hoe about a new fitness center, new union, and new dorm in one year…then start on building an Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center, a Biotech center, and a Nanotech (yes, NANOTECH) center this year. The received $360 MILLION dollars from ONE doner…add to that the millions they received from other donners…and then they raise tuition! Add to that the complete fucking over of grad students (all full-time grad students now pay the same full tuition that undergrads pay, instead of them paying for each individual course as before. And the administrarion has it in their heads that this is a good thing and will actually attract MORE grad students. :confused: ) Sheesh. The ol’ tute screw at work indeed.

Sorry for thr hijack, :wink:

Good job, Sarah, winning one for the good guys.

Actually, you did a nice piece of lawyering right there. An important set of legal skills is driving things through indifferent administrative procedures. Writing the detailed letter and sending it to the people who can get results is another useful technique. (I’d love to read the letter.)

All of this shows you will do quite well as a lawyer, which is a profession that unfortunately is more about procedure than justice. Sometimes you can use procedure to acheive justice and progress, and that’s when it feels really good.


Ah, it does my heart good to hear this. I battled the school I was attending over my graduation date. They wouldn’t let me take one lousy course, said I’d have to come back another quarter for one stupid course. I ran out of time to fight and ended up coming back. I’m so glad you won this one!

Good for you for getting all your evidence in order and then sending it to the President. That’s the way to do it! Do it again if you ever have to.

WTG, Sara!! I’m impressed - but not surprised. :slight_smile:

And Billdo is absolutely right - your ability to do something like this will serve you well in law. You took the facts, put them together in a letter that obviously made your case quite effectively, and got results.


I don’t know if it was so much my letter, or their fear I would tell people about it. I think I managed enough outrage in it - it may have seemed that I wouldn’t stop with the letter (even though it was my last hope). Maybe they were afraid I’d go to the school paper or something with it. Also, I actually demanded that they handle the problem exactly as I wanted it handled, step by step. I told them what to do and when to do it, and apparantly they aren’t used to that.

I got another call this morning from the Dean - they let me register a day early, so I signed up for all my classes this afternoon. Tee hee. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the support everyone. It means a lot to me. (I considered naming this thread: “I really am a stubborn bitch, aren’t I?”) I thought maybe I was making too big a deal out of it, but then I had no idea how good it feels to win.

Billdo - I’d be happy to e-mail you the letter. I’m running off to class right now for the next six hours, but I’ll send it to you tomorrow. :slight_smile:

Much as I love Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, I have never quite bought their contention, as expressed by The Mikado, in the show of the same name:

Not true, as you have demonstrated, Sarah.

Although I have to tell you, no matter how many times I saw your face, I wouldn’t get sick of it. Then again, you don’t really have any beefs with me, do you?

Do you?


Let me guess… Towson University? I’ve heard so many horror stories about that school, it’s a wonder they’re actually still in business.

Yay Sarah! You go, girl!

Er, you went, girl! Go you!

Fear Of Unpleasant Consequences is also a lawyerly tool, albeit one not much talked-about. It’s especially potent is you can back it up, but don’t actually mention it outright. Bureaucrats loathe being the focus or cause of unpleasant publicity. You’ve just been handed an object lesson in the power of the unspoken threat. Use it well, and for justice.

Bravo Zulu!

Wooo Hooo! Congratulations! And, in a fight, can I have you on my side? Us stubborn bitches have to stick together.