by Mariah Parker, Echo online writer
First-year Emma Topor and junior Midge McCoy have rallied students to make use of a little-known Student Handbook policy that allows students to file formal complaints with the Dean of Students.
According to page 118 in the Student Handbook, “students with a general complaint pertaining to student policies, procedures, or student life personnel should provide a written statement outlining the nature of the complaint to the Dean of Students… In every instance, the appropriate individual will investigate the complaint, seek an equitable solution, and report back to the student in a timely manner.”
Topor and McCoy put together formal complaint sheets which included spaces for student contact information, date, student signature and a ten-line grievance.
On Tuesday, April 19, Topor and McCoy gathered students at Vining C to distribute the blank forms, answer questions and guide students through the formal complaint process.
“It was partially an act of process, like a sit-in. We wanted to clog the system,” said McCoy. “No matter how busy the administration is, listening to students and addressing the well-being of the community comes first.”
Of the sixty forms distributed, thirty were returned to the organizers, who then reviewed the forms for factual inaccuracies, relevance, and legibility.
“We pulled out the misinformed ones and had students rewrite them according to the facts,” said Topor. Dorm health, fire checks and due process in adjudicating student conduct violations were among the top issues cited in the complaints. McCoy delivered the forms to the Student Life office on Friday, April 22. Early last week, Topor received an email from Student Life stating that the grievances had been received and would be investigated in a timely manner.
“I can’t go to Caucus or Staff Forum because I’m scheduled to work every night from 4-7,” said freshman William Penner-Hahn, who filed a complaint at the meeting. For students like Penner-Hahn, this policy presents a much needed opportunity for informed and respectful dialogue with the administration.
“We wanted to show the administration that we know how to use the system in a way that’s responsible and effective,” said Topor. “We hope that, through this, some awareness has been raised.”