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Bureaucracy 1, Pony 0

I am defending Le Thesis on Thursday morning, 9:00, as that is the single solitary time when all my committee members can get together. This is primarily my fault for choosing a committee with mutually incompatible schedules, and I accept that. I have to bring my advisor sign-off sheet and my graduation warrant to the defense. The sign-off sheet is not a problem -- that's on the Web, and after I strip naked and perform the appropriate dance under the full moon on a certain Tuesday of a certain month, I'll be able to find it and print it. The graduation warrant, on the other hand. . .

It's Monday, early afternoon. The defense is on Thursday morning. I decided to go pick up the warrant today so that I'd have it ready. I almost didn't, thinking that I could pick it up Wednesday morning and stand less of a chance of losing it between now and Thursday. But then, Mom Pony's words of wisdom came back to me: Everything Takes Longer Than You Think It Will. I went to the music office to ask about it today:


PONY: Hi. Who do I talk to about picking up my graduation warrant for a thesis defense on Thursday?

SECRETARY: Um. Graduation warrant? Do we do that at this office?

PONY: I don't know. Who should I talk to about that?

SECRETARY: Um. How about Ann?

PONY: Okay. Is Ann in?

SECRETARY: No. She's out until Wednesday.

PONY: Okay. Who else can I talk to?

SECRETARY: How about Molly?


MOLLY: Hi, Pony. What can I do for you?

PONY: Where do I find my graduation warrant? I need it in hand on Thursday morning.

MOLLY: Ann should have it.

PONY: Ann is not here.

(MOLLY and PONY break into Ann's office.)

MOLLY: Well, I think Ann had this all sorted out before she left. There's other people who need their warrants, too, so she had to have done something with them. But I don't know what she did.

PONY: Er, thanks. Do we get exit interviews at this school?

MOLLY: Sort of. Do you have any complaints?

PONY: Well, only that the administrative hoops that graduate students have to jump through are very well concealed. I got half of my information by word of mouth.

MOLLY: We know. We're working on that. In two years, after you've left, we should be pretty close to having a working system of communicating with thesis-crazed graduate students.

PONY: I'm so touched.

MOLLY: In the meantime, try the interim graduate advisor.



INTERIM GRADUATE ADVISOR (IGA): Hi! What can I do for you?

PONY: I'm defending my thesis on Thursday morning.

IGA: Congratulations!

PONY: Thank you. My advisor said I need to bring my graduation warrant. Do you know where I can find that?

IGA: Um.

PONY: We had our official meeting a month and a half ago. Do I pick up the warrant here in the music department or at the general graduate office?

IGA: Actually. . . no. It's not ready yet.

PONY: Please tell me I didn't hear what I thought I heard.

IGA: They only got around to sending the warrants to be processed today. They won't be ready for another two weeks.

PONY: But my defense is on Thursday! I need my warrant on Thursday!

IGA: . . . oops. Sorry.

So. . . no warrant for the Pony until two weeks from now. At least it's not my fault when I show up warrantless to my defense. But come on! They've had months to get this little piece of paper ready for me! I delivered Le Thesis three weeks ago, on the school-mandated due date for spring graduation. I had my advisor meeting to start the process of issuing a warrant back in early February. And the fershlugginer thing isn't ready yet!

"Oops" indeed!


( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 10th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
First, I deeply sympathize
Second, you have a great icon for such occasions
Third, Mom Pony is a Woman of Deep Wisdom (and Great Experience)
Fourth, look at it this way, you have another great piece of inspiration for another hit!
Fifth, as the axiom of the law of entropy applied to bureaucracy goes:"in the end, nothing really matters..."

So good luck on Thursday! :-)
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:01 am (UTC)
This is precisely the sort of occasion for which I wanted an "Oy" icon. It just fits so well. And sadly, this is about par for the course for the University's administrative communication with grad students.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:02 am (UTC)
Academic bureaucracy is the lowest circle of hell on earth.

I announced to the I.N.P.O.D. that there would be no warrant, and that there was nothing that God or Man could do about it. She sputtered, but she can't do anything about it, either.
Apr. 10th, 2006 07:24 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. Well, I've certainly backdated official documents when I had to because the bureaucracy got too much for someone to handle. Maybe Ann really did do something and it will turn up.
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:03 am (UTC)
It turned out that Ann was not the issue. The issue is that the music office, which has known since the beginning of February who needs a warrant (and it's a list of maybe thirty people), has only now moseyed around to processing them. And then the processing takes two weeks.
Apr. 10th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
Good Eru. Bureaucracy indeed! I was kind of snickering, though, at the fact that it also takes us much too long to get warrants (of a different variety, of course), and no one can ever track them down if we need one before it gets to us. It must be something with warrants.


Nah, I think it's just something with inane bureaucracy.

Don't you love how the *one* person who can do something in an organization is always out for something or another? Meanwhile, all the eejits are left in the person's place.

But, regardless of foolish bureaucracy, best of luck on Thursday! :)
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:03 am (UTC)
I just wonder why they're called warrants. It's like we've committed a crime just by graduating.
(no subject) - dot_o_choillmor - Apr. 11th, 2006 10:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dawn_felagund - Apr. 11th, 2006 01:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
I don't remember DD having to do all that... But will they care why you don't have the paper, will they listen? Sounds pretty stupid of them anyways. Who's in charge of the schedule over there?
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:04 am (UTC)
The committee can't do anything about the fact that I don't have the paper. Technically, I have until 12 May to get all the signatures, so that's what I'll do.

Did DD go to an American university?
(no subject) - ns_tulkas - Apr. 11th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Apr. 12th, 2006 12:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC)
Did you really break into Ann’s office??

Well, geez. If that was me, my next stop would’ve been the bar. I can’t believe that last person actually said oops. But you know, chances are this happens a lot and your committee people would be more surprised if you turned up with it than without it. Perelleth is right – turn this into a play. I’d go see it. (What’s a graduation warrant anyway??)

So you have to defend the thesis? I thought only doctoral theses had to be defended. Then again, nobody would have wanted to listen to me talk about classification systems for an hour. Good luck! And you might want to go get the sign-off sheet, like now ;-)

I need an icon for this kind of situation.
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:06 am (UTC)
I'm not exactly sure what the graduation warrant is; I think it's just a piece of paper that says that the I.N.P.O.D., the backup singers, and the music office all agree that I'm qualified to graduate.

I do have to defend Le Thesis. I think different schools have different policies for who has to defend. All Ph.D. candidates have to defend, I think, and so do most M.A. candidates (such as me). I had to defend my B.A., as well, but that's less usual.

(And that wasn't much of a defense. More like a mutual admiration society.)
Apr. 10th, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC)
Btw, I went to your university's web site and even with mucho years of coping with a university bureaucracy under my mortarboard, I couldn't find the instructions for getting a warrant, just the declaration that you needed one. Their documentation sucks.
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:10 am (UTC)
Their documentation sucks and blows. At the same time. You just looked at it, you didn't have to figure out how it applies to your project.

When you start a thesis, you have to fill out "the green sheet," which says on the top that it is a registration of your thesis. I found out about this by word of mouth from Quechua Ethnobabe. She also tipped me off that the "green sheet" is actually blue. So I filled it out, and dropped it off. No one thought to tell me, and I only found out months later, that you also need to register for Thesis as a class. More bureaucratic bullhockey.

I think they could probably make the graduate information web page less user-friendly and harder to find, but they'd really have to work hard at that.
Apr. 10th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC)
*Shakes head* (I actually feel like beating my head against a desk). I completely sympathize with you. I think I work in your secret sister university. Try to look at the bright side (or at least imagine there is one): the thesis defense is the only really important part of this and you will do brilliantly on that. Later, trying to track down the signatures you can't get on the warrant will be child's play.
Apr. 10th, 2006 10:42 pm (UTC)
*nudges elliska*

Hey there! How are things? You got sucked in to that job after all, didn't you!
(no subject) - elliska - Apr. 10th, 2006 11:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - perelleth - Apr. 11th, 2006 08:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dot_o_choillmor - Apr. 11th, 2006 10:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Apr. 11th, 2006 01:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gwynhyffar - Apr. 12th, 2006 02:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frenchpony - Apr. 12th, 2006 04:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2006 10:12 pm (UTC)
Sheesh. *gives you pointies for delivery of righteous stabnation*
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:11 am (UTC)
*Stabinates merrily away*
Apr. 10th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC)
Does rather make you wonder who is in charge of running things. Good thing educational institutions and government agencies don't actually have to think about staying in business. :/
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:12 am (UTC)
The thing is that no one is really in charge. The IGA is flying just as blind as everyone else. Daw's right; the University's documentation blows chunks.
Apr. 11th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)
The other thing I'd say, Pony, is to check with INPOD. When my students file their defense forms, the actual thing we all have to sign gets sent to me, not them.
Apr. 11th, 2006 01:13 am (UTC)
The I.N.P.O.D. was the one who told me I had to bring the warrant and the sign-off sheet myself. I told her about the warrant issue after gamelan, and she sputtered a little, but there's nothing either of us can do about it, so we're just going to have to live with it.
Apr. 11th, 2006 05:57 am (UTC)
Bureaucracy! What chance does passion and fire ... and cool reason ... stand against it.

Perhaps it's not about classes and theses and such - perhaps the reward of academic distinction is merely afforded those who can negotiate the system. It's designed to dispense with those who can't get through the minefield.

And just when you think you've got to the end, too, and everything's plain sailing. Mom Pony is clearly very wise.
Apr. 12th, 2006 12:30 am (UTC)
Bureaucracy! What chance does passion and fire ... and cool reason ... stand against it.

Snowball's chance in hell, natch.

Mom Pony is indeed a wise woman.
Apr. 12th, 2006 02:57 am (UTC)
Wow, what a nightmare. Our secretary dealt with all the paperwork. All I had to do was show up when they told me to. I'm sure it will all work out in the end.. everything always does, they just like to cause stress along the way.
Apr. 12th, 2006 04:14 am (UTC)
Lucky. I had to do the committee selection, the scheduling, and the room reservation.

But, yeah. Everything will work out in the end. It always does.
Apr. 12th, 2006 03:53 am (UTC)
This is what I hate about bureaucracy (and it's not just government or academia but any place that has more than two levels): a huge amount of sturm und drang over something that, in the end, is either meaningless or next to it.

Go, defend your thesis (brilliantly). The papers will be found/produced, signed, and whatnot. Then, this too shall pass.
Apr. 12th, 2006 04:15 am (UTC)
All the little idiocies will take care of themselves. Le Thesis is good, and that's really what counts in life.
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )