UWL adds new syllabi changes about student grievances

Photo+by+Carly+Rundle-Borchert.+

Photo by Carly Rundle-Borchert.

Alexia Walz, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

“Syllabi are one way to get information to students. I think it is important to include as much as you can in the syllabus. It is a resource for students that they can go back to and read about different policies that the university has,” said Student Association (SA) President Sita Agterberg. 

Student Noah Schaller said that he has read the entirety of the syllabi given to him twice. “Once I read it on my own. The second time was when my speech professor read every single line out to us. It took us about an hour.” 

However, Schaller did not notice that the section focusing on student grievances was added to the syllabus.  

According to the UWL syllabus policy information and statements page, students who need to file an informal complaint should first speak to their instructor, or to the department chair if they are not comfortable speaking with their instructor.  

If students are not comfortable speaking with the department chair, then they should speak with their college dean. 

“I have never had to deal with something like that, nor have I had any friends who have had to deal with that situation,” said Schaller. “Clearly, if there was an incident and they feel like they needed to make a change, it was probably deemed necessary.” 

Agterberg set this change into effect last year. “I started the change last year as inclusivity director. We were talking about hate and bias reporting and how some professors go over it and some don’t. If it is in the syllabus then students are aware that it exists,” said Agterberg 

“So, last year it was more focused on having something in the syllabus to report hate/bias. It grew from there, especially with everything that happened last semester surrounding sexual misconduct, so then it became more of a complaints and grievances in the classroom as a whole.” 

But, not all syllabi have the student grievances policy in them and some faculty have reported they were not aware of the change. The new policy reads: 

Informal Complaints: If a student has a concern or a complaint about a faculty member or course, the general process for making informal complaints is outlined in steps 13 below. Students are welcome to bring a friend or a UWL staff member with them during the following steps. Students who report concerns/complaints/grievances, whether informally or formally, will be protected from retaliation and have the right to expect an investigation and the option to have regular updates on the investigation. 

  1. The student should speak directly to the instructor. 
  2. If the student is uncomfortable speaking with the instructor, or they are unsatisfied with the solution, they should go to the chair of the faculty member’s home department. 
  3. If the student is uncomfortable speaking with the department chair, or the chair is the faculty member in question, or they are unsatisfied with the solution, the student should speak with their college dean.

Formal Complaints: If the student is unsatisfied with the solution of their informal complaint, they have the right to file a formal institutional complaint with the Student Life office, as described in the Student Handbook.”

According to Agterberg, the student grievances policy was already in place, but it never appeared in the syllabus until this semester. “This is the policy that was already in place, it is just put somewhere where students can actually see it. It was taken from the student handbook and a few other places. They were in really hard places to find on the website,” said Agterberg 

In order to follow through with her idea, Agterberg collaborated with Natalie Eschenbaum, the chair of the faculty senate. “Since we worked with faculty senate on the syllabus change, I think that it went through a lot better. It is really difficult to add things to the syllabi in general because it is up to the faculty to decide what they want to include. So, I am really happy that this was something that all faculty added to their syllabi,” said Agterberg. 

More information such as the student grievances section or other syllabi policies can be found here. If students wish to file a formal complaint, they can do so at the Student Life office or visit this webpage for more information. 

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