A Way For All to be Heard

El Vaquero Staff Writer

“My professor is being unfair; she gave her the benefits because she’s her pet; I deserved a better grade in that class,” all grievances that have, more of less, entered the minds of some Glendale College students. Yet, seldom do these students act toward resolving such predicaments. Why?

Jesse Melgares, Associated Students Representative at Large of Administration said: “I think a lot of students are shy. Personally, I don’t like confrontations myself. It has a lot to do with individual personality. Also, a lot of students don’t feel they have the power or rights.”

Take, for example, a situation that could occurred on campus. Keep in mind that their names and the circumstances of the occurrence are not real situations, only examples.

Mary tried to participate in a discussion her class was having that was based on the assigned reading for the week. She kept raising her hand, but was not given the opportunity to voice her opinion. Instead, another student in her class, Michael, was allowed to speak his mind. In fact, he dominated the discussion.

After two months in the class, Mary is tired of raising her hand. She has observed that her professor allows the same students to comment on an issue and not others when the class converses. As a result, she has concluded that he favors some students over others. Further, she is having doubts about continuing with the class if the status quo persists.

The thought of talking to her instructor about the situation, may be intimidating because she does not have the same kind of relationship with him that other students in her class do.

Music Professor Beth Pflueger said: “The student should not be intimidated by the fact that she feels other students know the professor better. I think that she should at least go and (talk to her professor). This is because when she goes to file a grievance the first thing they’ll ask her is ‘Did you talk to the professor about this?’ He might say, ‘You’re right and I know how you feel and I’ll try to alter the way I make my decisions.’ But she won’t know that unless she goes to her professor.”

Another approach, she said, would be to go and talk to the department’s division chair if students are too timid to come forward to their professors.

Melgares suggests other alternatives. “E-mail is one way,” he said. “Another way is they can go down to AD 147 and go to the mail room, write a little message (or letter) for them and leave it in their mail box or go to their office and stick a note under the door.”

Sandy Lee, a Glendale College academic counselor, recommends going to the second floor of the San Rafael building and talking to available counselors. They will sit down with students, she said, and try to develop plausible solutions to these problems. For instance, they can speak to a teacher on a student’s behalf or try to prep them to do so themselves. Another solution would be to arrange all parties involved to meet and discuss the issue. In this case, a counselor would serve as the mediator.

Desiree Rodriguez, psychology major, says that “it’s important to at least communicate with your teacher because if you don’t it may lead to something worse.” Students that harbor ill feelings for their instructors, she said, may blatantly or unconsciously let them out in class, which places professors in an unfair and uncomfortable position.
“If some of my students were running around being upset about something they thought was unfair, If I don’t know about it then I can’t help and try to make it better; that would make me feel helpless and terrible,” said Pflueger. “I might be doing something I don’t realize I’m doing unless someone brings it to my attention.”

In such situations, if students are unable to work out their problems with their professors through discussion, the next course of action would be to file an official grievance with Steve White, executive vice president of instructional services Additional details can be found in the Student Handbook.