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Volume 68, Issue 161, Wednesday, July 30, 2003


Dumb people ruin good days

Samira Zaidi
Opinion columnist

I have a proposition. Now it may not rank high with other goals like creating world peace, saving the Iraqi people (oh, wait that goal is already taken) and recycling, but it does serve an unmet need in our city.

I propose to create a new department in our great state, just like how President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security to take care of harassing Middle Easterners and checking shoes at airports. 

I think Gov. Rick Perry should create a new department to take care of dumbness in Texas.

It can be called the Texas Department of Dumb Things. This office could take care of complaints and issue new decrees.

For the past 22 years, I have been documenting dumb behavior in this city and in this state. For instance, drivers on the HOV lane signal "right" when they are merging into oncoming traffic —as if going left was actually an option.

Or how about bureaucratic red tape created to make a student's life miserable? One dumb thing I heard of comes straight out of our financial aid office.

Now if a student declines a loan award on their financial aid award letter issued by the University, they have to go online, register, take a counseling test, log back in and decline the award — again.

That's right. Brings a whole other meaning to "read my lips, I mean no!"

I personally have been battling with this issue. If it means that UH cannot read "no" off of paper but can comprehend "no" through a computer, then it should say so.

Before the summer started I had declined to take any loans and sent back my award letter. I had done this every semester for the past four years and experienced no problem.

But recently I received a letter stating I had to go online and either process my loan application or decline the award. So I went online and proceeded through the site, which gave me no option to decline anything. Instead I was prompted to start a test.

So I tried it again. This time the page couldn't even be found. Talk about frustration. I then called customer service. A nice woman told me if I had declined the award on the award letter then I shouldn't even be doing this online. After all "it just made sense."

I called UH's financial aid office to make sure it had me down for declining a loan and sure enough it did. Except now it wanted everyone to go through the Web site, as that was the only way students would accurately be recorded in the system.

But I can't even get into the system. I told her, "What happens now?" She said she didn't know what to say, but she explained that by not declining through the Web site, my financial aid disbursement would take more time.

So now I'm stuck. I can't get to the Web site and no one can do anything about it.

Hey Rick, think you can lend a hand?

Zaidi, a senior communication major, 
can be reached at


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