News, University News

Grad student council reviews grievance procedure

General body also hears report on talks with Campus Life, updates on unionization

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 4, 2018

The second general body meeting of the Graduate Student Council this year discussed changes to grievance procedures and reported on the board’s various meetings with University administrators.

At its second general body meeting of the semester, the Graduate Student Council listened to a presentation on a new draft of the Graduate Student Grievance Procedure and the executive board’s report on its meeting with Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes on graduate student housing, career resources and common room spaces.

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Thomas Lewis summarized the changes to the grievance procedure, which will establish a new timeline for each step of the process and clarify language in the current complaint system. Though the Graduate School is still in the process of refining the procedure, Lewis asked graduate students to give feedback on the current draft.

The current revisions include an option to file a complaint starting with an academic department’s director of graduate study, which could then progress to the department chair and finally to the Graduate School, according to the discussion. The draft also specifies how many working days each step of the procedure should take; for example, the time an ad hoc committee arrives at its decision on a complaint would be capped at 45 working days unless there are “exceptional circumstances.”

GSC President Alastair Tulloch GS described some of the sections in the draft as a complete “overhaul” of the current procedure.

After breaking into small groups to discuss the draft, graduate students offered substantive feedback. Some expressed worries that the draft did not do enough to help claimants deal with unwanted interaction with or retaliation from the person named in the complaint. Lewis responded that the Graduate School would add language in the draft to protect the claimant.

One graduate student added that phrases like “exceptional circumstances” in the draft seemed “too loosey-goosey,” adding that the claimant might disagree with the department on what would qualify as such. Lewis answered this worry by pointing out that the matter would go up to the Graduate School in light of any disagreement.

At the end of the comment session, Tulloch added that people could give more feedback on the revisions via an anonymous form.

The GSC Executive Board also reported on its meeting with Estes. Tulloch explained that housing has become an “increasing problem” for graduate students as the undergraduate and graduate population increases, and the board discussed possible solutions with Estes.

Referring to an article by The Herald on graduate student housing, Tulloch explained that the Graduate School had reached out to the GSC to talk about graduate students’ housing rights after the article was published.

Chair of Student Life Jack Krantz GS also said that the board had “emphasized” to Estes the need for centers like CareerLAB to be “more accommodating” to graduate students. Krantz added that the board conveyed  the need for more graduate student spaces — the only such space is the graduate student lounge where GSC meetings are held.

Vice President of Advocacy D’Ondre Swails GS also gave an update on the board’s meeting with President Christina Paxson P’19 and Provost Richard Locke P’18. A new report system for filing possible violations of the pre-election agreement on graduate student unionization is now available, Swails said.

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