Kent State resolves to make grievance policy better known around state

Amanda Garrett

Kent State is joining Ohio’s public universities in a review of how to monitor professors’ classroom speech.

Under the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Resolution proposed by the Inter-University Council of Ohio, universities will review and more vigorously promote the campus policies of accepted speech.

The resolution should be signed by the council, a group of Ohio’s public universities who advocate higher education issues, at its Oct. 11 meeting, said Pat Myers, director of government relations.

The resolution’s guidelines call for the universities to set up campus grievance procedures that protect both students’ rights and professors’ academic freedom.

The universities are also required to make the grievance procedure more visible. The resolution encourages universities to promote their policies in student handbooks, e-mails, course literature and in student orientation.

Kent State has an effective grievance policy in place, said Pete Goldsmith, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

“We believe our procedures are acceptable, but we are going to make sure people are more aware of the process,” he said. “We’re going to be doing some advertising and publicity to make sure people know what their options are.”

Kent State plans to include grievance information in university orientation and catalogs, Goldsmith said.

Faculty Senate Chair Tom Dowd said he believes any new guidelines to monitor professors is “largely unnecessary.”

“We already have a system in place that deals with these issues,” he said. “It will mean more hassles and no gain.”

The Rights and Responsibilities Resolution takes the place of a controversial Senate bill that would have restricted political and religious speech in Ohio’s college classrooms. Senate Bill 24 would have imposed an “academic bill of rights,” on the universities. The bill also called for campuses to adopt a grievance procedure to punish violations of the bill of rights.

State Sen. Larry Mumper, a Republican from Marion, proposed the bill after a group of students from Ohio universities complained to Mumper that they could find no procedures for filing grievances.

Mumper is satisfied with the new resolution, according to a statement released by his spokesman.

“Since the introduction of Senate Bill 24, I have maintained that the vast majority of classrooms in Ohio are already held to these standards,” he said. “But for the rare instances in which a student feels threatened or belittled, I am pleased that there will now be procedures in place to remedy the situation.”

Myers said the new resolution will fit in well with the university’s mission.

“Kent State is dedicated to freedom of speech,” she said.

Contact academic affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].