Grade appeal process under review

By Sandi Patyk

The University Council Wednesday referred the grade appeal procedure to the Academic Policy Committee for review and received input on the action plan for discrimination issues.

UC Executive Secretary Judith Bischoff said students are concerned there is not a provision in the grade appeal procedure to remove a faculty member from a review board if the student involved believed the teacher was biased.

“The NIU ombudsman brought it to my attention that three students are having problems with their grade appeals because they feel one of the board members is biased. I think in most cases faculty members would remove themselves if they felt they had an interest in the case,” Bischoff said.

Bischoff said the committee understands the students’ concerns and wants to change some wording on the grade appeal document. Some UC members expressed concern about the wording of step three of the appeal procedure. The step states petitions “must be submitted through the department chairman not later than the fourth week of the semester following that for which the grade is being appealed, excluding the summer terms.”

The UC members said this statement was unclear, and asked the committee to review it.

Bischoff said the committee wants to keep the wording in non-legal terms.

“We don’t want the appeal process to become a legal procedure. It should be informal, and within the department in question,” Bischoff said.

The UC also heard comments on the Institutional Action Plan to Address Campus Discrimination. William Monat, NIU discrimination task force chairman, presented the action plan to the UC. Monat said the plan “is not cast in cement. It will change as circumstances change.”

NIU President John LaTourette said he hopes to implement as much of the plan as possible. One of the plan’s priorities is to “demonstrate in more visible ways the commitment of institutional leaders.” One strategy for addressing this priority is to encourage Northern Star editorials on discrimination.

“I can’t mandate the Star to have articles and editorials, but I hope by their own views they will see it as appropriate. The Star has had some good editorials on discrimination,” LaTourette said.

The council approved ground rules for the discussion of NIU’s proposed constitution at the Dec. 16 UC meeting. Bischoff said she will move acceptance of the proposed amendments to the constitution at the meeting, and discussion will begin if the motion is seconded.

Bischoff said members suggesting stylistic changes to the constitution must put them in writing and give it to Jim Banovetz prior to the Dec. 16 meeting. There will be no discussion of these changes. Substantive changes must be in writing and given to Bischoff by Dec. 10.

Only UC members will be allowed to speak at the meeting. The time limit for the discussion is one hour. After the hour voting will begin. Proposed amendments will need a three-fourths vote of the members to pass.