Outcome of Grade Grievance Meetings at Eastern Michigan University from summer 2015 to Present
By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu
Ypsilanti, Michigan, the summer semester at Eastern Michigan University in 2015 was challenging for student A.
Inclusive of revisions she had signed onto 3 intensive writing classes in feminist theory, technical writing and feature writing. When all semester work was said and done student A wrote ~20 papers in a short semester. It must be difficult for Professor’s to gauge “course load” in any given semester.
After the completion of the summer term and after 2 grade grievance meetings for two classes, the offer from the Ombudsman’s Office came which was to apply to drop all three classes and clear the record.
Several months later in 2016, while student A sat out a few semesters, all three classes where wiped clean from her transcripts and record. What became apparent when student A received an E at %48 from a southern male philosophy teacher of Feminist Theory-student A had no choice but to fight with the prospect of her student career ruined. It became peculiar to student A why the Professor did not share her concerns and failed to properly listen and investigate. Grade Grievances are likely disliked by Professor’s whose tenured positions may become compromised.
Three completed classes were denied grade changes in favor of a complete withdraw. Affirmative Action at EMU mishandled the case that was brought from the Ombudsman’s Office describing it as outside their scope. Affirmative Action detailed their area as having to do with overt racist or misogynistic or disability offensive “verbal” language, but not with racist language in college text books. Affirmative Action did not desire to “read” the text book in question. In spite of hard evidence The Office of Affirmative Action declined to support student A.
Later student A recognized the potency of going direct to the publisher or Follet who publish and sell the book as a college text book.
Faculty and staff were asked not to broadcast personal information about student A in connection with staff and faculty meetings in regards to the grade grievance proceedings. Often student A feels faculty and staff speak candidly about students personal lives without care for their respect, privacy, merit or future.
Many students when faced with problems at the university may end up taking similar steps if left with no other option but to fight without wanting to make an enemy of the school.
Student A did not pursue legal options and in the end was pleased that her efforts were responded to and a middle ground solution was found. She pleaded with one high up staff member not to get on the microphone and broadcast. Student A says, “I am not litigious because I want my degree, love the school and want to be instrumental its continued growth.”
Meanwhile student A reworks her graduation plan. She meets up with voice teachers and piano teachers in the music department. She participates in a non-profit leadership group and received an honorary membership to The National Society of Leadership and Success from EMU.
When as in writings about professionalism and problem solving at work one often avoids “conflict” not to further compromise themselves. Student A said her nerves were shot at meetings and her school work turned into evidence. At first it seemed that everyone was against student A when Dean’s, Professor’s and student’s all sided against student A.
Eventually all grades did get overturned and were discharged with tuition refunded. Sometimes you are left with no choice but to fight to continue your education, at all.
In conclusion, the grade grievance hearings were a success for Eastern Michigan University in that in spite of their tedious nature they found a neutral remedy and student A can peacefully attend school and complete her degree. It is difficult to create a forum where student’s issues are actually heard and cared for.
Well trained professionals may need to govern key areas of change in the finance department and with the registrar, as well as mediate student, faculty and staff issues, tacit issues, work issues, behavior issues, and curriculum issues, teaching methods and work load issues. Psychological concerns get on the table often especially with the anxiety that the graded tasks can create. College text books may also need course evaluation following each class.
Students may feel tremendous pressure and loneliness in desperate appeals. It would be great it EMU created its own log and historical archive for how all grievances were handled and handle them in an exemplary fashion. Students need to work hard to strengthen the Ombudsman’s Office with the know- how and compassion, to be an ear for students issues, that follows up. Every case presents history and may become relevant as precedents for future cases. Keep track of daily life at EMU and report problems to the Ombudsman to create a record and trail for improvement. Similar things may be happening to another student and as in Kahlil Gibran’s example, “to remove the stumbling stone,” for future generations to enjoy a well- crafted and governed education.