Complaint deadline extended

By Joelle McGinnis

Students having difficulty understanding foreign faculty or teaching assistants will have until the end of the semester to make their complaints.

Acting Assistant Provost Lynne Waldeland said last semester, students were limited to the first few weeks of the semester to contact department chairmen with complaints.

This semester, in a memo posted on bulletin boards around campus, NIU Provost Kendall Baker asked students to make their complaints at any time during the semester to “ensure the oral English language proficiency” of class instructors.

Baker also directed students to communicate their complaints, either in writing or verbally, to NIU Ombudsman Bertrand Simpson in addition to the department chairmen.

At the end of the semester, Simpson and any department chairmen will forward complaints they have received to the committee assigned to the problem, Waldeland said. A formal report on the complaints received will be made in May, she said.

Waldeland said the decision was made to allow students to send their complaints to the ombudsman to make it easier for students who were hesitant to contact department chairmen.

Simpson said one written complaint has been sent to his office this semester. “Either (the students) are not having any problems or they just don’t know who to contact,” he said.

Waldeland said the decision was made this semester to extend the time allowed for formal complaints to give students more opportunity to voice their complaints.

Last semester, the provost’s office received two or three complaints, Waldeland said.

“We didn’t set a date this semester to give students a chance to say everything they have to say,” she said.

Economics Department Chairman Prem Laumas said last semester no students made any complaints by the deadline, but “after the deadline, a student made a complaint about a teaching assistant. That teaching assistant is no longer here,” he said.

Laumas said he has received no complaints so far this semester.

Mathematical Sciences Department Chairman John Selfridge said he had “taken care” of a few student complaints last semester.

Although he has had none this semester, he said he does not think the time extension “will make that much of a difference.

“Students who want to complain will come and complain whenever they want,” he said.