Because of my experience with the founder of the Transformative Studies program at California Institute of Integral Studies, I took two steps:
I attempted to transfer to the Social and Cultural Anthropology program. This is an exciting program where they talk about what I want to talk about. The professors here are amazing.
But it isn’t guaranteed that they will accept me and my communication style seems to be very different from the communication style of the professor who handles admissions to the program, making this much more problematic than it should be.
So I also applied to the Human Science program at Saybrook. Because I have lost touch with my professors at CSU East Bay, who are too busy to write reference letters anyway, and my relationships at CIIS are now not the most wonderful, I feared that this application wasn’t a strong one. Worse, I was a little less than diplomatic about the deficiencies I saw in the thinking of the founder of the Transformative Studies program at CIIS (not very collegial, are we?) in one of my submissions for this application.
It turns out the financial aid office at CIIS interprets federal regulations far more rigidly than other institutions. Though I have not yet been accepted into the Social and Cultural Anthropology program, I took three classes this semester in the program. If they accept me, the classes will count to this program. But the financial aid folks, who saw my registration as sufficient when they disbursed funds to me and to pay my tuition, have now decided it is not sufficient, that I am not making progress towards my degree.
First, they’re assuming an incredibly linear notion of progress, one at odds with the mission of an integral university, a notion that assumes that progress only occurs in a straight line according to the rigid ideals of a particular program curriculum. I don’t happen to believe this applies anyone who is interesting. Intellectuals should wander a bit, poking a nose under this rock, and then another, especially at the Ph.D. level. The notion of transdisciplinarity—also a part of the CIIS mission—should demand that they do so.
Second, they are being far more rigid than the financial aid office at CSU East Bay, which pretty much didn’t care what classes I took. They are also more rigid than the financial aid offices in the experience of others I have spoken with.
Third, they believe that this insufficiency requires them to revoke my awards for this semester which is already in progress, including amounts already disbursed. So if this situation is not resolved very quickly, I will instantly owe CIIS approximately $10,000 for tuition and for the excess they sent me earlier. Of course I do not have this money, so my tuition will be unpaid, the registrar will presumably drop my registration, and I will still owe CIIS a considerable amount of money, which I still won’t have.
So on what I have to assume is a dubious interpretation of federal regulations, the CIIS financial aid office proposes to essentially push me off a cliff and to deprive the institution of about $10,000 which I’m more than confident it has better uses for.
As one might imagine, this has been an incredibly stressful week for me.
I was not anticipating that Saybrook would begin evaluating applications until April. But look what I found in my mail today:
No interview. No hassle. I’m in if I want to be. It’s nice to be appreciated.