In a unanimous vote late Tuesday afternoon, the Academic Senate voted to consolidate two of the existing forums for student rights discussion into one entity.
The Student Grievance Board has been officially abolished, while all of its responsibilities are now imparted to the Fairness Board.
The Fairness Board is designed primarily to help students with grade disputes and appeals while the Grievance Board deals with students having an issue with a faculty member.
Matt Taylor, Associated Students Inc. representative for the now defunct Grievance Board, said the problem with the two boards centered around students not knowing they were there in the first place.
“It was all due to a lack of publicity on the school’s part and to a lack of knowledge on the part of the student,” Taylor said.
“The last thing I want to see as a student leader is for a student to have a problem, (and have) a way to solve it but they don’t know how to go about it,” he said.
Cornel Morton, vice president for student affairs, said that there is a three-step plan in place to spread the word to the campus community.
“It begins by consulting with the ASI student leadership on the revisions and consolidation of the boards, making sure they understand what has happened,” Morton said. “We are going to be sure the students are especially familiar with the new policy. The second step includes the development of a template or flowchart that helps students understand, in a very concrete way, the complete process that might include the Fairness Board.”
The third step will be to communicate the board’s existence to the entire student community.
Taylor said there is a preferred order of specific actions involved with the flowchart that comprise step No. 2.
“The first step is for the student to try and communicate directly with the faculty member to resolve the issue,” Taylor said.
If that does not work, the next step in the process will be for the student to speak to his or her department head, he said.
The next option is to go and approach someone in the office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
If all else fails, then the student should try and file an official complaint, Taylor said.
“The fourth step, when all options are exhausted, would be to take the issue to the Fairness Board.”
Taylor pointed out that there are alternative routes to solving a dispute, but the Fairness Board is a valid option.
“There are always other ways the issue can be resolved,” Taylor said. “If nothing else has worked for you, then the Fairness Board is definitely there.”
While each board has two student representatives, the number will be cut to two for the Fairness Board alone; the other two representatives will be delegated to other boards, Taylor said.
One of the issues facing the board was the language involved. The big issue had to deal with students and representation at a hearing.
Morton said that the subject of a student having an advocate of non-legal status was something that became an issue.
“Without the usage of attorneys, that lifts the contentious nature of the process,” he said.
Morton said that by restricting lawyers by both students and the university, the process becomes much easier to manage.
“The adjudication occurs in the context of a resolution reached by a process the student can appreciate and respect as fair and objective,” Morton said.
Taylor said it was an important issue to bring to the attention of the campus community as a whole.
“We have all worked hard to make sure this is an option that is well known to everyone,” Taylor said. “It was really important that we got this out there and provided an option for all students.”