Tracy Thornton Files a Grievance with the Black United Students
To: Jamie Carmichael
Black United Students
Political Affairs & Grievances Chair
From: Tracy R. Thornton
Date: October 11, 1996
Please accept this written grievance on behalf of the entire Black Community Development Class.
Prior to the start of the fall semester, I was told that there was no instructor identified to teach the course. When I asked Dr. Garrison about it at the PAS picnic, he told me that he would have the situation worked out and to call him the next day. I called but he was not there. I talked to Prof. Moore who told me to show up for class as expected on the first day, and if there was a problem, it would be made known to me then.
On the first day of class, we were told that Dr. Crosby would be teaching the course for two weeks because the professor assigned to teach the course would not be available until then. For two weeks, we met with Dr. Crosby and everything was fine. At the start of the third week, the new instructor still had not shown, so Dr. Crosby handed out a syllabus and proceeded to teach the course.
When we returned to class the following Thursday, Dr. Garrison came in approximately at 9:40 to tell us that class was canceled — no explanation as to why. The following Tuesday he came in approximately at 9:45 (class starts at 9:15) to tell us that class was canceled again, but if the new instructor still did not show by that Thursday, he (Dr. Garrison) was going to take over teaching the course.
On that day, we as a class went to speak with a Dean in Arts & Sciences. We spoke with Dean Movius about our concerns, namely that Dr. Garrison was not punctual, would be apt to cancel more class sessions, and had identified course requirements that we thought were outrageous (five tests, oral reports and a research paper) considering we were going into the fifth week of the semester. He said that he would take our concerns to Dean Danks as he was the direct supervisor of Dr. Garrison.
With no response from the Dean's office the next week, we went to class as scheduled. When Dr. Garrison came in at 9:30, he said "l understand a coalition of you students went to see the Dean last week, and I want you to know that I intend to continue with this class. That was it. No reassurances that classes would not be canceled, no open lines of communication what- soever. He did not even attempt to put our minds at ease, or even to apologize for the way in which the class had transpired up to that point.
He continued the class by outlining the following on the board:
Law Enforcement & the Penal System Religion
||An oral report on each of the five units
A midterm examination 11/7
A 5-8 pg. Research Paper 10/29
A final examination
Assignment: Black Education, W.D. Smith et. al., Chpts. 1, 2, 4, 6
|Since this looks strikingly similar to many syllabi I have received
in the past, I asked was this to replace the syllabus he had promised to
have for us the previous Thursday, and he said "No it is not. I said you
would get a syllabus but it is not ready yet. You will get it when its
done. (To date, we have not received a syllabus for this course.) We also
found it odd that he had all of the course requirements being due and ending
by the week of Thanksgiving. That leaves another two weeks (four class
sessions) that are not accounted for. After all the confusion and turmoil
the class has suffered through for the first five weeks of the semester,
why would he give us only 28 days to complete a research paper, when there
would still be fourteen class sessions left to the end of the term. When
he put this information on the board, he was not prepared (obviously or
else we would have received this in the written form of a syllabus) but
jotted it down off the top of his head. So as you can see, we (the class)
have every reason to have confidence in him as our Instructor since he
has put so much time into effectively prepar- ing for and organizing the
class time for us. (Not!)
At 10:15 he ended that class session, and we (the students) stayed around to discuss our options. We decided to try to stick it out only to come to class the following Thursday to find out class had been canceled due to a previous engagement he had scheduled. He left a 45 minute videotape for us to watch, which we did then class was over. At that point I decided to see the Provost. I was told that I would need to meet with the Ombudsman so that I could be sure I had taken my grievance through all the proper channels. I met with Greg Jarvey that Friday, who said he would talk once again to the Dean. I met with the Provost the following Tuesday morning (10/8/96) as well as Dr. Terry Kuhn. This proved to be less than fruitful.
The only solutions to come out of the meeting with the Ombudsman, the Provost and Dr. Kuhn was to take the course as an independent study course or cancel the class and receive a tuition credit for next semester. I took this information back to the members of the class, but to no avail. None of us wanted independent study because we signed up and paid for a course taught by an instructor. We didn't think we would get our money's worth by taking the course independently. Also, this course is the prerequisite for Black Education in America, which I need to take for my minor. Getting a tuition credit for next semester was also not an option, because many of us need this course for one reason or another, so canceling it now will prolong our graduation. It seemed that every solution offered by the administrators was punitive to the students — who came to class regularly and on-time. We had not caused the disturbance of the course, so we did not feel we should bear the burden of being penalized for Dr. Garrison's wrongdoing.
Thursday, October 10, 1996, I met with Carol Cartwright. I told her this information and she assured me that she would follow up with the Provost and get back to me the next day (today). She called me at approximately 11:00 a.m. to tell me that the Provost discussed the situation with Dr. Garrison and that he is not willing to assign the course to someone who has time to do it, but in the event of a cancellation of class, he will assign a substitute from PAS to teach for that day. Myron Henry called me approximately 45 minutes later to relate the same information, to which I expressed my dissatisfaction with their version of the resolution. I made him aware of the fact that I intended to file this grievance, and why.
I want you to know that for several reasons, I am not satisfied with this resolution. First, I have developed what I consider to be an 'ill-feeling' toward continuing this class with Dr. Garrlson because I feel he has consistently not acted In the best interest of the students. He has been chronically late, not to mention rude and inconsiderate of the students in the class. This atti- tude will no doubt affect my ability to complete this course successfully. Lastly, I feel that he will not be able to conduct the course smoothly without interruption or cancellation because of commitments he may have to attend to with his schedule. Having substitutes come in to teach the course as It develops will not help but will hinder our learning. Substitutes are sup- posed to be the exception to the rule, not established or made a part of the rule.
With that, I leave this problem in your hands. If there is anything else that you need from me or the rest of the students in the class, please do not hesitate in contacting me. My home number is 673-5361. Please keep me posted as to any new developments.
/s/ Tracy R. Thornton
Tracy R. Thornton