Break-up Letter: Why I’ll Never Recommend St. Thomas U.

Dear St. Thomas University,

They say the most cathartic thing you can do is write down your angry feelings in a letter and never send it. But, as a Politically-Minded person, I can’t keep my mouth shut. I’ll start by saying that it wasn’t all bad. There’s a few people that helped me grow intellectually and as a person. I’ll never forget them. Ever. In the following message, if I come off as a ‘woman scorned’ or ‘whiner’, that’s not my intention. However, for my own good – I can’t just sit back and say nothing. Perhaps this will go nowhere – do nothing – make no change, but hey, I used my voice. Liberal Arts education teaches students to speak their mind – challenge authority – and protest injustice – maybe they should have watched who they pissed off in the process?

There’s so many things that went wrong with STU from the start – but I ignored them. I wanted to enjoy my education. I wanted to be happy. I’m stubborn – so I let a lot of things go at the time. I guess that’s what most people in an abusive relationship do, right?

My first year I lived in residence – and this is where I saw my first signs of where STU truly doesn’t put students first. I won’t mention the fact that the RAs were arbitrary and often ridiculous – they weren’t all bad – and this isn’t about that. Before moving in we were told we would have “long-distance calling”. I was psyched! STU is 6 hours from home so this would be great! Turns out, no one in the residences could get this. Why? Bell would tell you the plan didn’t exist – STU would tell you to call Bell. Endless loop – no results.

The food in the cafeteria was terrible – and when I say that – I had undercooked chicken 3 times. Response from the workers? Nothing. STU got lots of complaints about this – so their response? Let’s keep the food relatively the same, lessen the options, and sell out our souls to Aramark. Great! Here’s the plan they came up with:
1. Charge people for any meal, whether it’s coffee and a bagel or a full dinner the same amount
2. Make students pay upon entry and ban socialization in the common area

Naturally, we weren’t happy. Students actually protested this – after all, it’s NOT what we wanted. But, STU does what it does best… To divert attention from this ridiculous decision they focused on the social area aspect – and then decided to move the Chapel and create another social area. What? Again, a lot of people were mad. But hey – they made it sound like it’s what we wanted. Response from the school from people who were mad? “We’ve made our decision, the end”. Thanks a lot.

If you want to see a councillor you’re out of luck. They’re mostly booked.

My worst experiences came in first and second year – third year was a total wash due to illnesses and an accumulation of just not being able to handle the bureaucracy any more.

When I attended Dr. Molchanov’s class a student was kicked out for a disability – we were told people with disabilities should be institutionalized. Whatever. I’m over it. I forgive Dr. Molchanov – breakdowns happen. If you want to read the letter about it, click here. But, this caused my GPA to suffer and 2 courses to go completely haywire – but other than an apology from Dr. Molchanov (which I accept, btw) STU didn’t do much to remedy the situation. So long as I wasn’t going to sue – who cares, right?

The true burn came when Kathy Mac basically told me to drop my major and change my aspects. Because of my disorders I had trouble coming to class often – and when I was there she was argumentative and basically demeaning. She told me that my writing “hadn’t improved at all” (because I didn’t take her lousy suggestions) and she actually sent me a list of really cruel comments from classmates entitled “peer review”. These comments basically said it was awkward having me there, that I’m rude, and that no one wanted me there. She knew I had anxiety and depression. She sent them anyways. I had to delete them. I cried for 3 days. Her response? A long note about how “despite your disability, all courses in Creative Writing are like this and your writing hasn’t improved – by the way, the course withdrawal date is friday.” What she lacks in teaching skills she also lacks in empathy…

Second year as well – the busses decided to stop running after 9:50 – this was after classes ended. Know what STU did? They informed the tour guides “not to say anything to new students”. Luckily an amazing friend would drive me home. You know who you are!

STU is shady. Most of their time is spent with gimmicks to increase enrolment – like having a decrepit residence (holy cross house) just to say they have 5 of them. Ever been in there in the winter? Good luck, you’ll freeze.

Part time professors don’t have offices yet we have a 5th residence when enrolment is dropping and dropping? Maybe if you tried to keep the students and professors you HAVE you wouldn’t have such a shit time getting students. Ever think of that?

On a technicality my reasons for leaving STU are probably “my fault”. Due to illnesses I was forced to drop down to 3 courses – I knew you could only take 2 online UNB courses at a time – and that 3 courses is full time student – but, apparently, what I didn’t know is that STU doesn’t take kindly to you taking UNB courses and only one on campus – despite them being paid the same, and despite it qualifying for full time. Fine – but, where the anger comes in? The lady in the registrar’s office was cold and uncaring. She literally said the words “doesn’t matter that you have a disability”. Sure, the problem couldn’t be fixed by her – but after giving so much of my life to the school – I was brushed aside. Then I was informed I wasn’t eligible for funding. I had to call to find all this out – no one told me. The deadline for course enrolment is past. Even if I wanted to – I can’t fix this.

After 3 years of practically begging professors to accept my disabilities… after having to get doctor’s notes again and again for the same chronic condition… I am tired. I am tired of schools treating students like they are nothing more than cash cows to be pushed around. I am tired of learning taking second-fiddle to bureaucracy and ego. And, my god, I’m just… tired.

It’s time to cut my losses. Adieu.

C’est la vie.

6 thoughts on “Break-up Letter: Why I’ll Never Recommend St. Thomas U.

  1. Ok… Did you work at all with accessibility? Because Rick and Kelly are great. If a prof dismisses you for mental illness you juzt let them know and they are on it.

    1. I did, yes. They are part of the few I mentioned that are “amazing”. But- the happenings were so common, so wide-spread, that eventually there’s nothing that could help it. Despite their intervention profs still basically shamed me for not being able to attend at times – despite high 90s on work.

  2. I’m actually a previous STUdent myself and a lot of this resonates with me. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I called it quits in my supposedly “final year” when I found out the credits from my Ivy League school in NY turned out to count as “general credits” which basically meant they didn’t apply to the school’s required courses for my English/GRID double honours (they originally told me it would so I was deceived). This meant I had to pay AT LEAST another full year to catch up.

    The government denied my loan application due to the combined income of myself and my parents (even though I have no financial support). I finally got a job over that summer which paid $17.00 per hour and it screwed me over. Now I am on short term disability and EI trying to make a new plan after my three years for honours went down the drain… STU never helped me in any way for that issue.

    It doesn’t help, either, when the majority of my favourite professors openly criticized the school. When it came down to it, I remember my decision was made to leave the day Prof. Desroches stated in class that if anyone liked writing that they should just write and read daily. He didn’t believe in the ridiculous costs. I left after that semester realizing that I was burning out.

    1. I know what you mean! I’m about to switch to Athabasca, entirely online. I can’t take the bureaucracy. I know a lot of people love STU and it’s right for them – but that doesn’t mean the bad doesn’t happen.

      You have my best wishes in your future endeavours! Good luck!

  3. Safe Ride works well for those with classes after the bus stops running. I used them all last year for my night class. 100% free. Sorry to hear your experience wasn’t good, best of luck 🙂

    1. Thanks J. I actually don’t care that the busses stopped running – it was the blatant move of STU to tell their tour guides “not to mention ANYTHING to new students/ potential students unless very directly asked”.

Leave a Reply