For the past years, the grievance process has been used as an avenue for students and faculty members to address certain conflicts that arise between them and any member of the academic community. There have been instances where, due to the long process, either the cases were never resolved or the complainants decided to drop the case altogether.
According to Section 6 of the student handbook’s general provisions, a grievance may be classified as informal or formal. Informal grievances are settled through direct discussions between the complainant and defendant, as well as the mediation of a department chair in the event that the discussions were deemed unproductive. On the other hand, formal grievances involve a more rigorous process wherein a series of documents have to be coursed through to the parties involved.
In times of conflicts that may lead to a grievance case, students are encouraged to raise their concerns to batch presidents or other members of the University Student Government (USG) for assistance. Should the student pursue a formal grievance, they will be requested to undergo the procedure as outlined in the student handbook.
For the first step of the formal grievance process, a student may request for a Student Adviser (SA) through the USG Office of the President (OPRES). The OPRES will then course the complaint through the Judiciary branch, which will provide the requesting student with the SA. The SA has its own committee that is currently composed of 17 trained students who specialize on the student handbook, particularly on major and minor offenses, as well as the Student Charter.
SA Committee Director Joshua Castro (III, BS-ADV) estimates that, on average, one to three formal grievances and around five informal grievances are filed per term. The cases become stronger when they are grounded by the handbook and other school rules and regulations.
The entire process, from the filing of the complaint until the resolution, lasts about 12 days. “In solving grievance cases, persistence and a strong will is a must,” Castro shares. He adds, “Students shouldn’t be afraid to voice out their concerns since it is their right to be heard.”
On why students disregard the option
A further definition of grievance under section 6.2 of the student handbook states that it can either be academic or behavioral. An academic grievance is filed when any controversy arises during the student’s learning and academic performance. On the other hand, a behavioral grievance involves any form of misconduct or bad behavior.
Alex* says that she filed a grievance case because of her professor’s “off personality.” It came to a point where the professor’s comments became personal and hurtful to the students.
“Basta, medyo namamahiya na yung prof,” she narrates. The case, however, did not escalate to a formal grievance. “Parang, kahit ano mangyari, [it didn’t push through],” she adds.
After the experience, Alex shares that there was no change in her professor’s behavior. She also notes that no one has ever filed for a grievance case against the professor, since the professor has been with the University for a long time.
On the other hand, the repercussions on the behavior of professors after a case is also a reason why most students forgo the option to file grievance cases. After the grievance case proper, students may feel a grudge that the professor might hold against them. It may affect them in the long run, especially when the students enroll under the same professor in another subject.
“One thing that may hinder students in filing grievance cases is the fear of confrontation with a professor,” an anonymous student shares. “It takes dedication and conviction to push through with one.”
For Alex, who says she felt alone during the process as she filed the case on her own, the process can be quite intimidating. She shares that the USG was helpful when it comes to the application process but lacked in giving emotional and motivational support. “You’re on your own. Kaya ang hirap, lalo na mag-isa ako nag-file ng grievance,” she describes.
Room for improvement
For Castro, filing of formal grievances may not be as effective as everything is written on paper, from the complaint to the respondent’s reply. Time, effort, and patience are required of students who decide to pursue formal grievances. For this reason, Castro recommends that a sincere and proper discussion of problems be held since it can help the student relay their concerns thoroughly to the respondent.
“I do suggest that students should not be afraid of voicing their opinions and concerns,” Castro advises. “Don’t hesitate to approach the people who can help you like the Student Advisers because we will always be open to anything you would like to voice out.”
*Name changed for anonymity