University department made “terrible mess” with U.N. plans

I am one of the students initially accepted into the United Nations Climate Change Conference delegation, and I was surprised with a message saying I should feel lucky that I made the wait-list âÄî for a program into which I was already accepted.

I do not feel Jayme DittmarâÄôs Thursday column addressed the major blunders on the University of MinnesotaâÄôs side of the fiasco. Nor did it address how all of the frustration and bewilderment might have been prevented.

The e-mail I received about being wait-listed was the first official correspondence IâÄôd received from International Programs in Food Agriculture and Natural Resource Science, the department in charge of the delegation, since I was accepted over a month ago. For a whole month, I was left in the dark with many unanswered questions about the details of my trip. And now, just weeks before the conference, the next thing I hear is that it can no longer accommodate me.

After getting over the initial shock of the news, the suddenly wait-listed students like me now have to deal with the humiliating task of telling our professors, bosses, families and friends that we actually are not going to Mexico to attend the conference that we were so excited about. Why? Because, I guess, a month later, it was decided that we were only wait-list material after all.

I wonder if this circumstance could have been avoided. As a department entirely devoted to planning and orchestrating abroad experiences for students, IPFANS was embarrassingly unorganized. It seems like knowing how large the delegation could be was a first step âÄî and a basic one. Even if it was the case that the U.N. lowered the limit after our delegation was chosen, this is not something the coordinators should have withheld from the students they chose to dismiss. This is a scenario that a study abroad office should know how to deal with better.

IPFANS made a terrible mess of our plans; the least they could have done was show us some respect.