The Thoughts of an Educated Young African American Male

One HBCU is Listening to a Young Black Man!

Last week the Durham Herald Sun reported that HBCU (school name ommited by me) would focus on customer service. (See the article below). In the article, they refer to a letter sent to the board of trustees which complained of customer service at the school. It just so happens, that I sent a letter to the board of trustees complaining of customer service. See my letter under the news paper article.

Our classmates may not like it, but speaking up is the only way to facilitate change!
 

 article, which can also be found online at: http://www.heraldsun.com/durham/4-785275.html

HBCU to focus on customer service
November 5, 2006
BY GREGORY PHILLIPS, The Herald-Sun

Leaders at HBCU want to see the school’s employees paying a little more attention to customer service.     Recent incidents yielded letters to the board of trustees . And they have that body’s executive committee concerned that, while Chancellor James Ammons has set up an office reporting directly to him to handle complaints, more needs to be done to prevent them from happening in the first place.    

Every time we get a letter like that we have lost a potential contributor to the university ,” Chairman Cressie Thigpen told the trustees executive committee last week. “Sometimes I wonder if we are moving as quickly on that as we should.”    

Thigpen said a complaints office, while necessary, amounts to a Band-Aid approach when what’s needed is a change in the way HBCU hires and trains employees.    

The committee will present a list of recommendations to the full board of trustees meeting later this month, including customer service training for new employees, a mandatory annual seminar for all workers, monitors to deal with university departments and rate their service, plus a reward program for customer service.    

Board Secretary George Miller said some employees need reminding that, “We’re here to provide service and an education, not to keep someone in their place.”    

Any directive from the trustees is just a recommendation, but Thigpen said changing the customer service culture at HBCU has to come from the top.    

The chancellor has to send the word out that we’re not going to tolerate people treating other people badly ,” he said.    

Thigpen also wants to see the trustees more actively involved in the university’s capital fundraising campaign. The committee agreed that all trustees should contribute money, but past chairman Ed Stewart also pushed for a minimum pledge level.    

“We all should be a participant of at least $1,000 each,” he said.    

Although Stewart’s suggestion got no traction, Miller said he’d never been asked for a donation during six years on the board.    

“I don’t think we need to set a dollar amount, but each trustee needs to know there’s an expectation,” he said.    

     COPYRIGHT 2006 by The Durham Herald Company. All rights reserved.

My letter to the board of trustees.

I have attended HBCU School of Law for two years. I have enjoyed my experience here at the law school. The staff is educated, respectful, and the facilities are exceptional. However, that is where my love for this institution ends. While I have attended the law school, there has not been a year where the main campus staff and employees have been anything more than rude, disrespectful, and completely unhelpful.    Unlike many who attend the Law School, my undergraduate degree is from a historically black college/university. I understand the struggles which face our HBCUs. However, HBCU ranks, in my mind, as administratively, one of the worst institutions a person could attend. Some of the reasons why include:  

  Financial Aid I have never seen such an unorganized group of individuals like what I have seen in the fiancial aid building. It is typical to wait for hours on the phone in an attempt to talk with someone. Once someone is on the phone, students are greeted with an unpleasant employee who chides students and rushes people off the phone before disseminating any useful information. In person, financial aid workers are often on cell phones while lines wrap around the room. Like over the phone, workers treat students like children and chastise them about problems. Students are there for information about their money. Such lines would not be necessary if financial aid did their job through out the year explaining the processes and procedures. In financial aid, students are not treated as if they are respected and valued, but as a burden in the day of the workers. You may make undergraduate students believe it is like this everywhere, but the graduate students know better, and we know you do as well.  

Now, financial aid tells the law students we will not receive our refund checks until October of this year. What is equally as frustrating is that the financial aid office is placing the blame on the students! What did we do wrong other than fill out the same forms and financial aid with came in September last year? If a change occurred in procedure, I would assume it would be financial aid’s job to inform students about it. However, that would require people to do their job, and at HBCU, that is always asking for too much.

Parking

Why are the law school parking lots VIP parking for football games? There is no where to park on Saturday’s to do school work. Students cannot study our rigorous course work because of these events. Indeed, there is no parking for students to use the undergraduate library during games. So, attending the athletic events is the focus on HBCU. Funny, at most schools, getting an education comes first. What do you think your serious students do instead? They travel to UNC-CH, Duke, or NC State to have a place to study. When students feel that it is too much of a hassle to study at their own institution, do you think they will become an alumni dedicated to giving contributions to improve the university? I hope not, because most students I talk to feel it was a mistake to come here, mainly because of the issues dealing with administration.

In regards to the daily parking problems revolving around the school, what attempts have been made to increase parking areas? All many students see is increased enrollment with no new lots. The law school itself has enough students to fill all the lots surrounding it. Because your administration is slow to act on anything non athletic, the law school pays a local church to rent parking spaces for its students. At least the law school takes swift, affirmative steps to show its students it is working with and for them.

Cafeteria and other services

At HBCU, I have witnessed, on multiple occasions, employees of this institution using profanity at students for asking questions like: ‘what is that for dinner’; ‘is there anywhere to park’; and ‘why can’t I wear my undergraduate school paraphernalia in the gym’? Overall, the staff at your institution is disrespectful and rude. Most graduate students feel being on campus only leads to hassle, and head-ache and prefer to stay here only for class. Is that the reputation you want for this university?

Before the Law School MPRE exam, a white individual said, “I was told to not take the exam at HBCU. Hopefully nothing will go wrong.” Not surprisingly, a fire alarm went off during the test. Many students are appealing the scores and want to invalidate the results. This is embarrassing to the institution. The students who took the exam are not just HBCU students, but students from across the world taking the NC Bar examination. The widely known reputation of HBCU as being ghetto, inefficient, unprofessional, unorganized, and dangerously susceptible to crime continues to grow with each instance where outsiders come on campus. Most students at the law school leave immediately after class because they do not feel safe here. In addition, many students here illuminate their undergraduate institutions in interviews because HBCU is thought to be a stain on any resume. After internships, many employers remark that they are impressed with our work despite coming from HBCU. All of this combines to make this institution the worst collegiate experience most of us here at the law school have ever experienced.

HBCU is a business and the students are its customers. The customers are dissatisfied. Most of my classmates agree that our children will never attend this institution. Further, we have no since of pride for anything here outside the law school. This letter could be longer, but you have heard all I have to say before. The question is, will you do anything about it or continue to hide behind the fake guise that this is a great institution with no problems?  

Young Black Man

School of Law, Class of 2007

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November 13, 2006 - Posted by | African American, Black men, Black women, college, HBCU, Law, Law School, university

6 Comments »

  1. Grace and Peace

    I followed a link to your page. I am considering a HBCU for my masters degree in African American Studies. Visit me, we can talk.

    Grace and Peace
    Bliss

    Comment by Bliss | November 15, 2006 | Reply

  2. Grace and Peace

    Thank you for responding back. I had been thinking about Clark Atlanta, but I guess I could weigh my options.

    Thank you

    Bliss

    Comment by Bliss | November 16, 2006 | Reply

  3. I firmly AGREE with you…It is an outrage…I attend a HBCU currently and I have never experienced such anger towards staff. I transfered from a white university, so it is a bit of a shock how unorganized and poorly represented HBCUs really are. However, If you manage to get through the mess of financial aid and enrollment the black experience is priceless.

    Comment by Naturally Me | November 26, 2006 | Reply

  4. All my life I wanted to attend a HBCU. Financial aid, and enrollment and all the staff are the absolute worst. I am a 31 year old nontraditional transfer student in Nursing School. I notice it’s all about who you know in order to get any service. I never in my life saw a establishment for professional growth and knowledge so unprofessional…I’m really contemplating about transferring back to LSU b/c ever since I’ve been here I have been treated the worst than I have ever been in my whole life….I thought when I was in the Military they were prejudice against young black men….but here they treat you like you’ve committed a crime……My children nor my family members would never be encouraged to go to this University….nor would I ever contribute any monies to this instiution…..unless its buying a ticket for the football games or the band…..to me thats all its good for…

    Comment by yellowman225 | February 2, 2008 | Reply

  5. My child enrolled at a HBCU and I subsequently joined the staff. He’s in his second year and I am in my first year -seriously looking for another job. The staff members are so rude and unprofessional. I have seen students talked to like they were third class citizens. There is such a lack of concern for raising standards for customer service. My department is 90% Caucasian and their mindset is that “that’s just how HBCU operates”. The outside image is definitely not a reflection of what really goes on the “inside”. During orientation the administration paints such a pristine and proud picture when in actuality nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the staff are prima donnas(male and female) with a bit to much attitude and desperate need of training. Our children deserve better – it’s time for the administrations at HBCUs to realize that we live in a global society and tuition dollars can spent at non-HBCUs just as well. If my child ever says he wants to transfer – just take a guess at what we’ll be doing.

    Comment by Inside Edition | April 1, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’m about to be a 1L at the law school you graduated from(by the way Congrats!)
    And I completely agree with the lack of customer service, and slow pace of the administration. It really is like the law school and the undergrad are two separate entities! But it shouldn’t be like that, because the professional students ultimately have to go through the regular administration for something!
    I’m struggling right now,to move into my on campus housing BEFORE orientation. Who would’ve thought that it would take getting the Dean in the law school to contact residential life so law students could move in before orientation begins. Ugh, it is draining. But I’m trying my best not to allow these troubles to get in the way of my experience at the law school.

    Comment by 1L to be | July 25, 2008 | Reply


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