Accent on New Paltz: Flawed logic

paul brown SQSUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian displayed a disappointing lapse in logic last week when he attempted to link a slight drop in student enrollment with the lack of housing on campus. As reported by the campus newspaper, The Oracle, Christian linked lower spring 2014 enrollment numbers in part to what he described as a shortage of housing available at the college and in the community.

Never mind that Christian, trained as a biologist, has no scientific evidence to support his conclusion, he also makes the error of confusing correlation with causation. There is absolutely no evidence that a claimed shortage of student housing is in any way related to the spring semester enrollments. Further, local landlords and real estate professionals continue to report more than ample rental vacancies in our community.

President Christian has also provided a poor role model for the hundreds of students being taught the rigors of the scientific method and the ethical issues surrounding the selected use of facts to support a personal bias. It is no secret that Christian is a staunch supporter of the attempt by a for-profit commercial real estate developer to build rental housing for over 700 students, faculty and staff on Route 32 South adjacent to the campus. He has touted the benefits of a ‘public-private’ partnership that will solve a supposed ‘crisis’ in housing for transfer students reportedly seeking a ‘campus experience’. What constitutes a ‘crisis’ and how it is measured has never been defined by the college president.


In an astounding demonstration of Orwellian ‘double-think’, Christian then went on to admit that “… we exceeded our targets for incoming first-year and transfer students for this year…”. The proposed commercial rental project is supposed to solve the problem of attracting transfer students to campus, yet transfer student enrollment targets have been exceeded. I know. I don’t get it either. Ask Don.


The magic number

Our saga begins in the summer of 2012 and involves two members of my family who happen to live in neighboring homes in New Paltz. Let’s call them Mary and Jane. In 2012, Jane became aware of a clause in a contract between the Town of New Paltz and Time Warner Cable having to do with senior citizens. The clause reads: “Subscribers in the town and the village who are currently (as of effective date) receiving the following senior citizen discount shall continue to receive: one free month of service, equivalent to their current plan, following any consecutive twelve (12) month period for which timely payment is made (no late payments). In other words, if you’re a senior citizen living in the town or village and have paid your Time Warner Cable bill in full and on time for 12 consecutive months, you are eligible to receive a credit on your account for one free month of service equivalent to your current plan.”

This was exciting news and prompted Jane to call Time Warner at the number on the front of her bill to ask what she needed to do to receive the credit. She was transferred to customer relations, where no one knew what she was talking about. Her next call was to the supervisor’s office. She subsequently received a call back from Supervisor Zimet who provided her with a telephone number at Time Warner, as well as the name of someone who would be able to help. The individual she reached was courteous, helpful and knowledgeable about the senior citizen credit. Jane was instructed to provide proof of age of account holder (copy of driver’s license). This would be placed on file, at which time the credit would be applied. She did and it was. Jane shared what she had learned with Mary, who followed the same procedure and received her credit.

Fast forward to February 2014 when Mary received a call from Jane reminding her that more than 12 months had passed and they were once more eligible for the senior citizen credit. Since Jane had by now forgotten about the special number provided to her by Supervisor Zimet, and Mary had destroyed her notes during her annual shredding frenzy of previous year’s records, they both began back at step 1 with calls to Time Warner at the number on their bill. The first time Mary called she was cut off during the transfer to customer relations. The second time, she was informed that their systems were down and was asked to call back. On her third attempt she was told that the senior citizen program was part of a promotion by Time Warner’s retail department and that she would receive a postcard in six weeks. Mary called Jane to share what she had learned and found her to be equally frustrated. But then . . yaaay . . another call from Jane. A random brain cell had fired and Jane had remembered about Supervisor Zimet’s special number! It was called, account records were checked for proof of age and credits applied. Time on the telephone: two minutes.

How helpful it would be if Time Warner would outline on their website exactly what senior citizens must do in order to receive their credit, including the number to call! It would also be nice if the customer relations agents knew about the program. The process is very simple and it’s a really nice perk, but it shouldn’t have to involve bothering the supervisor’s office.

And the magic number is…718-670-0228.

There is one comment

  1. Gilbert Brenner

    Don Christian is a very smart guy and I think the article could be written in a less bellicose style with more insight from the writer.

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