The following resolution was submitted to the Faculty Organization by the Student Affairs Committee on Friday, April 18, 1997 and approved as a one year pilot project.
INDIANA UNIVERSITY NORTHWEST STUDENT ADVOCATES
Student advocates would advise students and when appropriate, assist in processing student grievances when, for some reason, he or she cannot resolve problems through normal channels. Indiana University Northwest has, in the past two years, made a concerted effort to address problems that arise from serving both a culturally diverse area and an equally diverse student population. The diversity retreat and the Diversity Working Group, testify to the University's continuing commitment to providing a climate conducive to intellectual growth for all its students.
Last year members of the Diversity Working Group met with students on two occasions. During the course of these meetings students described incidents which included various forms of harassment, intimidation, racism, and sexism, among other complaints. The students' problems involved other students, staff, and faculty. Many times the students kept silent about such problems fearing sanctions would be imposed upon them if they were to report these incidents.
One important area that has not been specifically addressed is the staff/faculty relationship with students, especially those students who, either because of background or age, are unable to communicate effectively with those in a position of power. The reverse, the inability of faculty and staff to communicate with students, is equally important. In both cases one or both parties might perceive factors other than miscommunication, such as ageism or racism, as influences in the relationship. The creation of the position of Student Advocate may serve as a solution to all of the issues described.
We propose the following:
- Students, faculty, staff, SGA, and student organizations will make nominations to the office of Vice Chancellor of Student Services. Students should be selected for their mediation skills and leadership abilities. This pool of nominations will go before the Student Affairs Committee for recommendation to the Vice Chancellor of Student Services, who will select two students from two different divisions to serve as Advocates.
- Faculty advisors from two different divisions will guide and facilitate the Student Advocates in their duties. Advisors will be selected by the Committee on Committees.
- Students Advocates are encouraged to seek internship credit from an academic department.
- Student Advocates will recommend a course of action in compliance with existing University policy, for example, the Code of Student Ethics, and the Academic Handbook. Advocates will require access to IUN's faculty, staff, and administration, including the campus counselor and the Vice Chancellors.
- All reported incidents will be kept confidential. A yearly report will be prepared describing the number and types of incidents brought to the attention of the Student Advocates. These will be made available to the Vice Chancellors in order to identify significant issues.
- To encourage students to use this service, it shall be announced through the Bulletin, Schedule of Classes, Northwest Phoenix, et cetera.
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