Faculty senate tables new student complaint process revision

Julie Shadoan, the new Chair of University’s Faculty Senate sits in a Faculty Senate meeting as Senate Officers vote on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.

Jack Dobbs

A revision to the student complaint process has been tabled by the WKU Faculty Senate.

The revision says students must first address their complaint with the faculty member themselves. From there, complaints go to the department head, then to the college and then to the University Complaint Committee.

Rheanna Plemons, special assistant to the provost, presented the revision to the senate.

“We encourage students to follow a chain of command,” Plemons said. “If a student has an issue with an instructor, doesn’t matter what type of issue that student has, we always refer them to the faculty member to talk that out.”

Plemons said the goal of this revision is to tell students they do not have to “go to the top” with their complaints. Instead, students should work out the issues with their professor.

According to the revision, if a student is dissatisfied with the response from their professor, they can take the complaint to the department head. Written notification of the complaint must be issued to the department head within two weeks of the student meeting with the faculty member. 

“Those types of complaints the department head may choose to address them or not, but I think department heads work as mediators for a lot of these situations,” Plemons said.

Plemons said work on the revision was done with the help of WKU General Counsel Deborah Wilkins. Since different colleges had different guidelines for their complaint committees, this will allow for a uniform process by which to handle complaints and concerns from students.

Before a vote on the revision could take place, Will Harris, president of the Student Government Association, requested for the revision to be tabled so it could be presented to the SGA.

The tabled revision will be presented to SGA at its next meeting on Dec. 3.

The faculty passed two other revisions during Thursday’s meeting. One revision calls for “a consistent approach to the assignment of and compensation for teaching assignments for staff,” according to the revision.

Currently, individuals who teach at WKU but are not faculty members are paid in overtime for teaching, since teaching is not outlined in their responsibilities as staff members. This revision will allow for consistency when calculating pay for these individuals, said Julie Shadoan, chair of the faculty senate.

“Staff are basically paid hourly,” Shadoan said. “If they teach, that’s considered overtime, and so they would get time and a half whereas anybody else who would come in and teach part time is not going to get time and a half, they’re going to get the standard part time salary.”

The other revision passed by the senate allows faculty, staff and administration to monitor “substantive changes” in WKU academics.

Substantive changes include “significant modifications or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution,” as defined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The senate also passed a report from the University Curriculum Committee, which calls for the establishment of a certificate program in Chinese Studies. Shadoan said the creation of this program depends on the approval of the provost.

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @jackrdobbs.