I had once written a blog on the high price of JN201 and the services it was supposed to render, yet somehow fell short of the expectations of students. This brought in a view of more than 200 going on to 300 within three weeks. I had to unpublish it because I had been asked nicely to remove it. It still is there, just unpublished. This had been a controversial move last semester although at the time I had thought it was just trivial and that I was just writing a blog to be graded on in the course JN 201 which was Print and Online Journalism.
Before we dwell on this, let us look at the professors who taught different units in journalism. For TV and special topics in journalism (JN203 &305) Professor Robert Hooper and Nash Sorariba had taught it. Both were good and admired. Professor Hooper not only an academic, but is also a journalist who worked all over the world including war torn countries like Iraq, and even Fiji during its coup era. A well known international educator and attorney who works to promote conflict resolution and media democracy in the United States, Asia and the Middle East. Sorariba also an educator, is a journalist and had a narrow escape from death during the Bougainville Crisis. Dr.Ian Weber taught JN301 which was International Journalism and even taught us the theories on photography during our 201 class. These academias made learning exciting , fun, interesting and informative. Somehow one would think that they would have made any one of these three be the head of school for journalism as they showed more understanding for our media and politics in Fiji. The skills they offered was duly noted by their students. Enlighting us on issues like different media systems and different countries, interviewing skills, lighting techniques and so forth was pretty much appreciated by most students.
Now let me go back to my first blog. The fees for JN201 was $570 and that was just on that unit which is higher than one unit at the Fiji National University. So what would one expect? Better services, great teaching skills, quality teachers with great credentials and well basically the best.
What did the University of the South Pacific give JN201 students? A teaching assistant who this second semester is getting better at her job and provided these first few weeks a stable and improved learning environment[so I am definitely not sorry I wrote that first blog-plus points to the TA for great improvement]. However for this unit we were under the impression that we were supposed to be taught by the “professor who worked for the Chicago Times and was from Canada-Dr. Marc Edge”. Yet he did not exactly teach us on Print. Usually it was Irene Manueli, the TA who took most of our class. Dr. Edge concentrated mostly on Online Journalism which was basically about “how to write blogs”.. If you’re wondering where the punch line of the joke is, there is no punch line, and there is no joke. If this was a joke, then it would be a $570 joke. Fijians have been writing blogs for years under wordpress, matavuvale.com, blogspot, etc. Nothing on web designs or how to create websites likes fijivillage.com.fj, fijilive.com.fj, etc which are two online news services. I guess the joke was on us students and people who were paying the fees. The TA should have been given the income the H.O.D was receiving. She was doing most of the work anyways.
Plus for blogs, we were already taught blogs last year for only two days by Professor Hooper’s daughter who taught us well. To pay to learn about blogs for a semester is a joke. Who oversees this?
Back to my first blog, which was once there for the world to see, I was asked by the Dean to see her which I did. Before my visit, she had paid a visit to the newsroom to speak to the students. They did have grievances about this unit, but only came forward once she explained that their names would be kept confidential. When the Head of School found out that students did in fact have grievances and I was not the only one this was the email [titled ”its all about YOU”] he sent after his meeting with the Dean.
As a result of the meeting this morning, the Dean has decreed that henceforth Journalism instructors must listen to any and all excuses proffered by student as to why they could not meet the deadline for submitting their assignments, no matter how much time they were given to complete them. So please, come to us with your tall tales and we will happily listen to them with rapt attention as if we had nothing better to do. But keep in mind that the dean has not decreed that we must believe any such tales nor grant any extensions.
Really? Do you really want to graduate in professional excuse making? The first lesson you all need to learn is that you need to meet deadlines if you are going to be a journalist, no excuses. That is the number one rule. The presses must roll and the broadcast must start on time. If you don’t get your work done on time, you get left behind. By graduating professional excuse makers, I don’t think we would be doing anyone a favor – not you, not your future employers, and certainly not USP.
Oh, and apparently you are all now welcome to waltz into class as late as you want. After all, this is all about YOU. Whatever time you want to come to class will be just fine with us. But remember that you will soon be looking for attachments and asking for reference letters. The ones who will get the best attachments and reference letters will be the ones who showed up for class on time, learned something, did the best work, and submitted it on time. Some of you will apparently not learn that until it is too late. Because, of course, this is all about YOU.
This email one can clearly identify that there is wit with sarcasm but blatantly unprofessional. He has made it clear that he will listen to your "excuse" as directed BUT will do so with much scrutiny... how does he expect anyone to come forward to him about complaints if that is his attitude? True, he has a valid point about deadlines, threatening students with the 'reference letter' section is totally uncalled for and rather daunting.
After meeting with the Dean, Dr. Edge asked to see him in his office where he mentioned that they were not very happy with what I had done and was really disappointed because Matai had got a hold of my blog. I remember sitting there wondering “who is this Matai? How is he involved in this?” Later a fellow student explained who Matai was and the conflict between the two. As if it was supposed to concern the students.
Now this Edge is always talking about “how to be condescending and mock Fiji”. Lucky for him he can mock Fiji and its media and have a foreign country passport. A student had posted this on the Journalism Student Association page
At the USP Journalism Department its all about : "How to be condescending and mock Fiji".
Oh I thought that I came here in Fiji at the UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC ... was to learn about the Pacific issue ....
I might be in the wrong program .... Those academics people brought here in Fiji to teach at USP as experts are just for most of them ... at the end of their careers... they just come here to put their names on the wall .... and enjoy the tropics I guess!
Obviously ... how many of the Journalism graduated students are on the mainstream media since then ???!
I wonder what would be the USP journalism program today without this tough time that you guys going through ...
The replies to the following post is at the bottom but I have to remove the names because I do not want them to get in trouble.
xxxxxxx: Hmmm I can't speak for others, yes the HOD is lacking in the Pacific content but from a first year perspective I think Marc is doing a stellar job in drilling the first years with the basics......getting our writing in top shape. I do feel that we just need more Pacific relevance. And since you yyyyyy put it you need to get your money's worth because it's a lot of money being spent.yyyyyy: thanx for this xxxxxx ... and you made a point !!
Yeah now i am just talking about my worthy money cause I can't explain how m failing all the time his (HOD) classes while m able to get a A or a B at the 2nd and 3rd level....
Well ... fair enough .... He does not allow me into the journalism program anymore cause I've failed JN 101 ...
But let the world know why I've failed it ....
I got de registrered for more than 3 months ....
I wish I could forward you his emails !!!! kinda of "just check moddle", or "what? you don't know how to read this" ???
I did produced plenty stories for WANSOLWARA ... Never been published ...
When I got my "personal crisis" ... I've emailed that story to PMC and PACNEWS and it been published ....
So I come again to my first concern ... Plssssss ... OPEN YOUR EYES GUYS !!! Those people just want you to be on their sides to PUT THEIR NAMES ON THE WALL !!!
I wonder what happen to those students that he taught for more than than ... what ???? 20 or23 years ????
Myself ??? I've be trained by Dr Hooper, Professor Nash and Dr Robie... and I am happy to meet with all those ex-students nowadays ... OK ... we like or not them...But I never met with any Dr Mark's students on my pathway of my education ....
And just for instance ... Last year .. My first ever UNI's experience I was taking at the same time JN 103 - JN201 (that I gave up) and JN 203- and I dropped off UU100 .....
I bet you guys to do the same .........
yyyyyyy: Really.....how odd? Yes I wonder if it's a clash of personalities (Just saying :) But you must be able to talk to the higher ups about this, cause it seems like a lot of time and money is being wasted here. My Wansolwara stories weren't marked last semester and he told me it wouldn't have made a difference to my grade and I was like "Then why make us write them and say its compulsory". These things are little or trivial but I think it's a shame! I hope you take this to the appropriate people because maybe then you might get some traction.
Somehow Dr.Edge finds about this issue. XXXXXXX FOUND herself being removed from the program. This weekend I found out she is now back on the program which is good news. The valid point here is that she did in fact have a valid point. There are 12 member countries here at USP. Why concentrate on Fiji, what will happen when our friends from other counties go back to their own islands and only be educated by H.O.D about mocking Fiji too much while never concentrating on another pacific island?
I now cannot enroll for JN 302 and 303. This was the email I got from Dr. Edge.
I am afraid you will not be allowed to register for any further Journalism courses because you have failed JN201 twice now. JN201 is a prerequisite for all third-year courses in the BA proramme in Journalism. The rule is that we allow students two chances to pass a course, but not a third. I have had to apply this rule recently with another student who is now out of the programme. You may have heard about that on Facebook. I have to apply these rules equally.I sincerely hope that you can continue your studies in a major you are better suited for.Regards,Marc Edge
Was it my fault that I gave up too soon on Print and Online because we expected a Canadian prof to teach us on Print, share with us his knowledge from the big world, yet we were being taught by a TA, good as she may be with layouts?
Was it my fault that USP was negligent in its duties to oversee the running of this course especially with Fiji in its present climate and the pressure of journalism here in Fiji?
Is it my fault that the teaching skills offered by the H..O.D is not fit to be called ‘skills’? [by the way some of the notes I noticed was borrowed from jn 301-how very academic]
This was the email I got from Professor Hooper who has done more for us than the H.O.D.
Your original grade was a "B" as you completed a very good final project, particularly with your interviews of ordinary citizens, students and the Chief of Police. What reduced your grade was poor scores for class attendance and workshops. Nevertheless, I decided not to reduce your grade below the "B" level as you completed your project on time. It could have used additional editing and reshooting of material with lighting (lens flare) and technical problems, but it was a very good story and your interviewing and editing skills were quite good. And congratulations on your excellent interview with the Chief of Police. Keep up the good work!The original grades for JN 305 were calculated with the assistance of Fiji TV staff, who recorded attendance and evaluated workshop participation. I submitted the final grading sheet to the Head of the Journalism Programme who then determined the grades submitted to the USP administration. I did not receive a copy of the final grades awarded to students, but I was informed that some would be changed.What final grade did you receive from USP for JN 305?You have talent and if you apply yourself and improve attendance in class/workshops you will succeed.With regards,Professor Hooper
Somehow when my grade came out it was a C for JN 305. All grades go through the H.O.D before it is given through admin to post on our student accounts. Is it fair that my grade had to be changed by a H.O.D who never taught me anything except Online journalism [a fancy word for blogs]? Print media is dying out as theory suggests. Why is it still a core unit in USP? Does anyone really take notice of what is happening around the world? Daily Post died out, so did Shanti Dutt, and I Lalakai. More TV stations are coming up as well as online broadcasting and there are now more than 15 radio stations.I am saddened by the fact this kind of petty and corrupt issues is happening within our education system at university level. Who looks after the well being and grievances of the students if many are too scared to speak out in case their grades get affected? I had asked some friends what we could do for the other student who had been removed first from the program and a friend of mine had told me to stay out of it because of the trouble I had caused last semester. This I feel was hypocritical on the H.O.D’s part because first they raise the issue that free press is the way to go and then when you finally practice it, [in regards to enlightenment on education system particularly with USP journalism dept] they gun you down for it. [Hypocritical and confusing].I love consuming knowledge. Only if the knowledge is the qualitative one. If it is just crap, one can always tell and not bother consume it. Is there a proper channel for these grievances? Yes there sure is. Does it work? Apparently not. One thing I’ve learnt about blogs, it is a watchdog for media, only in this case for education and its tid-bits.Do I believe the Canadian professor who teaches blogs for $570 and sometimes teaches from borrowed notes from 301 lecture slides who it seems uses his post in school as a tool to intimidate students into “the right way of thinking and acting”? or do I believe the internationally recognized well known journalist and educator who has worked all over the world and has been helping Fiji ever since media development and seems to love Fiji more than its citizen does and whose former students still contact him even at odd hours to get advice from him? JI believe It is up to us to make our own futures and destiny. However like I said consume only good things. Never ever allow negative people to feed you crap. Have a good day everyone.Remember my hero is Richard Naidu. A man who demands respect and earns it by right.
contact email address:Best RegardsFara