OPINION: The pitfalls — and exhaustion — of college bureaucracy

Mar 10, 2023 | OP-ED, Opinion

Small misunderstandings seem to cause big problems. As almost everyone can probably attest, this appears to occur very often when red tape is involved.

At some point, we’ve all been duped or have mistaken one fact for another, which results in a frustrating journey of calls and back-and-forth messaging, until the needlessly complex process yields a result that should have been a simple thing.

Welcome to the world of bureaucracy, where red tape, meetings to set up other meetings and passing responsibilities to others hold sway.

The term “red tape” is believed to be derived from the practice of binding paper documents with red rope or cloth tape in the 16th Century. Like most things, there can be a time and place for complex processes, such as last-resort decisions or security for certain identity-related procedures.

On the other hand, a situation with a simple goal such as adding a college course can transform into a needlessly complex process.

Red tape is the cause of many headaches for anyone unlucky enough to be in a troubling position, especially if the goal is a simple one.

For a fictional analogy of this, consider the giant monster movie Shin Godzilla. In the film’s opening, the titular kaiju first makes itself known by damaging an underwater Japanese bridge and creating a massive steam geyser through its immense body heat. As disasters continue to escalate, the Japanese government in the film has a meeting about what to do, assuming it’s a natural disaster.

A government worker, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi, having seen video evidence that a huge creature is responsible, tries to alert the cabinet to the monster during the meeting, only to be lambasted by his peers. He is proven correct mere moments later when the news is broadcasted.

The meeting is then immediately adjourned … only to have the prime minister’s cabinet hold yet another entirely different meeting in his office about how to handle this new information and how to protect people.

This theme of bureaucracy interfering with the saving of lives continues throughout the film.

If you had to do this alternating hokey with pointless minutia to get things done or have heard of this monotonous process, then congratulations, you know of the wild world of bureaucracy. It is a process that unfortunately I’ve had to go through.

Simply learning how and what to pay can become a merry-go-round of tedium. During January, I discovered that I needed something added to my curriculum. Quite a few times I’ve had to go between several of Humber’s internal offices to get what I wanted to be done.

First, a student action form had to be submitted by my professor.

Then the process of calling offices began. One office said I needed to speak to another, and then that particular one introduced a process I needed to go through to sign up. But then I had to pay money, which meant more calls.

And so it goes.

Bureaucracy is like going across the country to buy materials just to build a bench. It’s long and tedious.

It would be so much easier if one could get all the work done in one place without the meaningless travel through a labyrinth of paperwork, whose sole purpose is to exhaust you.