All Around the Bureaucracy Bush

When I arrived for the start of the semester, I discovered that while the law school was university was expecting me, I didn’t exist in most of the relevant computer systems. The next few days proved to be a remarkable exercise in the old run-around. As best I can remember, they went something like this …

  • Registrar: Tells me to start with the business office.

  • Business office: Tells me I need to wait on central IT to put me “into the system.” ID card and library privileges will have to wait on that bottleneck. Tells me to go to the institute secretary for keytag and carrel assignment. Tells me to try law school IT for email and network access.

  • Secretary: Tells me to go to the institute director for keytag and carrel.

  • Institute director: Tells me to talk to the library for carrel. As for keytag, walks with me over to …

  • Building facilities: Gives me keytag. We go back to the institute office, where my keytag doesn’t work. So we tromp back to …

  • Building facilities: Gives me replacement keytag. This one works! Now let me see about the email.

  • Law school IT: Has no record of me, says I have no network ID. Says I’ll need one from Central IT. Says central IT is implacable, works on its own pace, and cannot be rushed.

  • Business office: Agrees, says that central IT is the bottleneck. Dispirited, I then run into …

  • Roommate working at computer help desk: Suggests I talk to director of law school IT, rather than just person at front desk.

  • Director of law school IT: Agrees that Central IT is the bottleneck, but knows who to call. Tells me that Central IT will be able to get back to me by the next day. In the meantime …

  • Business office: Gives me handwritten note on back of business card authorizing me to enter library. With this in hand, I go to …

  • Library administration: Has no record of me and therefore cannot assign me carrel.

  • Institute director: Says that library should totally have record of me and should give me a carrel. He calls …

  • Associate dean: Says that library should totally have record of me and should give me a carrel.

That’s as far as I got on Day 1.

  • Central IT: Emails me (at my non-university email address) that my network ID is ready. Armed with network ID, I am quickly able to activate email and network access. Score! Time to try again with the ID card. How about, oh, I don’t know, …

  • Business office: Directs me to university-wide ID office.

  • ID office: Says I need an authorization form from law school registrar.

  • Registrar: Directs me to business office.

  • Business office: Says that ID office is incorrect, that no form is needed. Calls ID office to explain said incorrectness.

  • ID office: Issues me ID card. But that’s just university-wide. I still need to take care of one more detail:

  • Business office: Issues me a current-registration sticker confirming that I’m affiliated with the law school. Thanks to the ID card, I can now get into the library under my own steam. Time to take care of some outstanding business there. First, let’s try to check out some books:

  • Checkout machine: Scans ID card. Informs me that there is an issue with my card and I should go to the circulation desk.

  • Circulation desk: Says I need to return during business hours, when desk is staffed by librarians, rather than work-study students.

And that was as much as I could take care of on Day 2.

  • Circulation desk: Tries to fix borrowing privileges. Cannot. Summons senior librarian, who fixes borrowing privileges.

  • Checkout machine: Scans ID card; allows me to check out books.

  • Library administration: Has record of me, tells me to wait until middle of month for carrel assignment, once student carrels are taken care of.

  • Associate dean (several hours later): Says that library should have given me carrel and that he has already spoken to them.

  • Library administration: Assigns me carrel.

  • Carrel: Exists.

  • Online library system: Will not let me request books from other university libraries. Informs me that there is a hold on my account. Sends me to …

  • Main library privileges office: Inspects my account, removes hold.

And that has been my odyssey through the university bureaucracy. Throughout it, every single person I dealt with was unfailingly polite and genuinely trying to be helpful. We were just all caught up in the bureaucratic madness. I’m hoping that getting my paychecks won’t require similar exercises in orienteering through the underworld.