CRA-DMP Evaluation Report #1

The Students' Point of View: Issues Involved in Participating in the DMP

V. Logistical Problems with the DMP

Many students expressed frustration about organizing various aspects of their living arrangements at the mentor's university. Because the participants were not "official" students at the host university, they were often denied housing and other aspects of university life unless their mentor intervened. The following quotes are representative of the experiences of many students.

We did have problems with housing for a long time. ... And we were messing and messing around with it. I think there's a real problem with the program in that, since it's not like an established REU program, the host universities just don't know what to do with us. They're like, "But you're not a graduate student!" And I'm like, "But I'm supposed to be living like a graduate student. The whole purpose of this program is that we become graduate students for a summer." And I'm like, "So we've gotta live in graduate school housing." And everybody I'd talked to who'd done it last year had said that this was a key part of their experience -- really living with graduate students! And I see that, especially being here. Graduate student housing here is like way out, away from everybody else. And everybody lives here! And if we were an undergrad, on campus, in a dorm, and wouldn't work. It would not be the same at all. And it would make things alot more complicated, and we would feel really isolated. And so that was really the only big problem we have [had]. But once we got down to like, "Look, we're getting nowhere. We're getting stonewalled because people know that we're undergrads and they're not taking us seriously." We just wrote our advisor a letter and said, "Hey, this is what we've done, we can't get anywhere, you've got to pull some strings or do something." And she did. She called us two days later and said, "You're in grad student housing" I don't know what miracle she pulled off, but I think that's very hard because from what she's told us, the advisors don't have alot of information on how to deal with the internal politics within the university, and they don't have enough clout necessarily to get these things arranged as they should be, and if it's not set up.

I: Okay.

R: And we had problems getting ID cards for the exact same reason. They're like, "But you're not getting a paycheck from us!" We're like, "We know. We get paid from somebody else, just give us an ID card." So... just... the little things, like that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Oh, the thing is that normally what they say is that you're only allowed to get this housing if you're one of the summer session students or if you work for the University, which I sort of was, but I wasn't getting on payroll so they wouldn't accept that. So I had to have my mentor write a letter and then that letter went to the summer session office and then that letter went to housing.

Another issue that arose in our discussions with students was that some had difficulties receiving their checks from the CRA on time.

R: I'll make one comment, but it's not exactly about the program. But that CRA place that pays you is just really disorganized. (laughs)

I: Why? They weren't paying you on time or?

R: No, I got my first check late. Well it's supposed to be there at the beginning of May and I had them send it to my apartment. And I moved out May 13 and hadn't gotten it yet and I had my mail forwarded. So I hadn't gotten it by like, two days before I was supposed to leave. And I thought I was going to have to pay for all my housing up front, so I needed it when I got here. And so they had to Fed Ex me a new check. And I didn't end up getting the first one until like two or three weeks after I had already been here...And then my second check was a month and a half late.

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