By Josh Swan
Ryerson students are increasingly coming into conflict with their instructors, according to the Ombudsperson’s Annual Report.
The report, compiled and released by university ombudsperson Nora Farrell, states that complaints about instructor conduct have climbed to 82 in 2004/2005 from 57 in 2003/2004. That’s an increase of 44 per cent. Student complaints against their instructors fall into four categories: lack of civility, difficulty contacting instructors, lack of a timely response to student concerns, and a “perception of unwillingness to abide by university policies.”
The report recommends that Ryerson offer more opportunities for students and staff to learn conflict resolution skills. The number of student complaints is relatively small when compared to the number of complaints the ombudsperson received, said Diane Schulman, director of the office of the Provost and Vice President Academic. Schulman said that the university is still looking into the ombudsperson’s recommendations. “Nothing has been finalized yet,” she said.
While the size of classes at Ryerson is an issue, increasing faculty members are keeping a fair balance, said psychology professor David Day. Faculty should be able to teach large classes, and do a good job of it, he added. Day said he can’t remember ever being on the receiving end of unreasonable requests from his students and hasn’t had problems with disrespectful behaviour.
“I don’t feel that (lack of civility) is a problem on campus. (However) there are isolated instances,” Day said. He added that although there’s no excuse for rude behaviour that could lead to conflict, “faculty and students are human; it will happen.”
The office of the ombudsperson is located in Oakham House and operates independently of the university.
Part of the ombudsperson’s job is to sort out conflicts between students and staff when the university is unable to do so.