Students say communication with profs is poor

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By Eyeopener Staff

Students find it hard to communicate and reach their professors, Ryerson’s first Ombudsperson report says.

The report and the university’s response were received by academic council in December — the council’s last meeting before the Christmas break.

Liz Hoffman, who became the university’s first Ombudsperson in 1997, outlined 10 concerns in her report, pulled from meetings with 325 students (full-time, part-time, continuing education and special students) between Feb. 1, 1997 and June 30, 1998.

The first concern Hoffman addressed was communication difficulties between students and their professors.

“It is apparent that many of the problems that I see are a result of poor communication,” Hoffman wrote. “What I see most often is miscommunication between students and faculty and staff members. Without the miscommunication being resolved, the students’ situation only worsens.”

The Ombudsperson’s office was created after students, in 1995, voted in favour of paying a new ancillary fee to fund the position.

The Ombudsperson is an independent party who listens and investigates student complaints and tries to bridge the communication gap between students, faculty and administration.

U of T, McMaster, Western Waterloo, Laurier, Brock, Carleton, Concordia and Lakehead all have Ombudspersons.

In Hoffman’s first annual report, she said many students were frustrated by the difficulties they encountered when trying to reach their professors. And, she found, the problem only worsens in the summer when many professors are on vacation or working off campus.

Hoffman suggest departments and programs need to coordinate “the availability of faculty members, so that even if individuals are away on vacation, that an acceptable level of service is available at all times.”

Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s v.p. administration and student affairs, agreed with Hoffman in a response she prepared for the school.

“There should be a structure in place which allow for either the head or an acting head of academic staff to be available at all times,” Grayson wrote.

She also said the acting head would have the authority to make academic and administrative decisions.

Hoffman said in the next few weeks she will circulate the report across campus to students and faculty. If students are interested in reading the report, a copy can be obtained at the Ombudsperson office on the second floor of Oakham House

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