I have been pretty busy the last little while, working on resolving a problem that a class I am in is having with our instructor. If it isn’t obvious already, I am being purposely vague because I do not want to be implicated in saying anything public about said instructor, simply because I am trying to resolve the matter in the best way possible. I respect my teacher’s professional contribution to the discipline of education, and I in no way want to create a charged situation that may further hinder the dialogue at this point. (And don’t worry Alec it’s not you! You’re awesome!)
After consultation with several individuals whose experience and background are relevant to this issue, a petition seemed to me the best way of tackling the problem.However, having never written a petition, I was in serious need of tutorials/assistance.
So, in the spirit of ECMP355 I Googled it! My first hit was Go Petition, an excellent resource that not only provides very specific information of what is needed in a petition for it to be effective, as well as hundreds of helpful examples that can serve as templates to guide your writing. They also offer the service of an online petition, which makes for an added convenience of reaching th0se who you would like to sign without running all over campus. They also assure users that online petitions are just as much a legal document as a paper and pen would be.
However, I chose not to use the online petition because I want to be absolutely certain that this petition, once signed and submitted, can not be waived as a kind of document the faculty would accept. Had I more time, and not in this uncomfortable position of worrying of what my instructor might do to me should he/she find out, I would have gone to ask the faculty if they would accept it.
This process of attempting to stand up for my, and my peers’ rights has made me realize how difficult it is for a student to make their voice heard, despite the forward thinking belief of our faculty that we need to impart social activism in our students. So, I have decided to share with you the options available if you have a greivance, and want to be recognized.
1) URSU has on staff a student advocate named Karene Hawkings who is available for consultation. If you have an issue you want addressed, going to her seems the best option. This helps to avoid the politics that may arise in Faculty, and provides you with a wealth of information regarding student rights, instructor rights and responsibilities, and will advocate on your behalf so that you won’t be put at risk.
2) Make a petition. To make your issue recognized as a class issue, and not simply a personal issue, a petition is an excellent way of going about this. A petition helps you to put into context your greivance, provide examples of the greivance, and provide what you to be suitable ways of resolving the problem.
When writing the petition we first shared an overview of what the problem was, and the ways in which it affected us as a class. Second, we shared examples of incidents that forced us to take a stand. Finally, we shared what we believed to be the best resolution of the problem.
I want to stress that writing a petition must be done with tact. Simply running off the cuff and openly accusing someone of something without providing adequate documentation will result in your petition not being taken seriously. This is not a chance to vent. Be smart.
3) Believe in your cause. This can be the most difficult thing to overcome, especially when in a situation that you feel intimidated by. If your cause is a just one, remain confident that you have taken the right course of action, and have followed steps that will be sure to keep you protected (speaking to the advocate, seeking advice, writing a petition) regardless of the outcome.
Share your concerns with those you want to sign the petition, as this fear of being later targeted in a negative way are common. But if the cause is important enough, they will likely sign, especially so once they recognize that many names are attached. There is real strength in numbers.
We have not formally proposed our petition to the faculty, and are still in the process of getting signatures. I am pleased to see how many people believe in their rights, and are willing to stand up for it. I will let you know how our petition was accepted by the faculty. Cross your fingers!
As a closing note, I noticed that many of the petitions online have been created by what seemed to be junior and senior high students. Many of them are for silly things, like forcing a sports team to sign/drop a certain player, or for bugs to be addressed in certain video games. Of course there are also the students who are using the petition to create change in their classroom, some very well written and understandable, and some ill-advised obvious attacks on the personal character of the teacher.
Using this as part of an assignment in class would be a valuable tool for organizing one’s thoughts, and advocating for beliefs that the class shares. Again, here is the link to Go Petition. Check it out.