A Report on the Washington State University

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					                     A Report on the Washington State University
                                Ombudsman’s Office


This report covers May 16, 2008 - May 15, 2009. Cases continue to come from the whole
WSU system. The breakdown of the caseload is as follows:

                    2004-2005     2005-2006      2006-2007      2007-2008      2008-2009
 Undergraduate         107            73            113            110            137
 Graduate               40            27             46             25             27
 Faculty                39            29             47             50             45
 Classified Staff       26            23             25             30             40
 A/P                     7             7             20             15             17
 Other                   1             2              0              8              0

 Total                  224            194            261            238            266

 Trends that were noted this year.
 The overall case load increased this year at the Pullman campus. Both branch campuses
 at Vancouver and the Tri-Cities were very similar to last year’s caseload. The Spokane
 campus showed a slight increase in caseload.

 The issues addressed include grade appeals, perceived advising errors, reasonable
 accommodation including excusing absences from classes/examinations, tenure process
 and denial, continued funding support for graduate students, and graduate student
 committee concerns. These types of cases were handled in a very individualized manner,
 but required more time for investigation and problem solving.

 The gender comparison last year of cases was 51% women versus 49% men. This year it
 shifted to 54% women and 46% men. Other demographic data is difficult to ascertain
 accurately.

 Areas to address for future implementation.
 The policy contained in Paragraph 73 of the Academic Regulations entitled Absences
 should be disseminated to all faculty for inclusion in their syllabi, particularly Section
 73c which provides that, “as long as absences are not excessive it is hoped the instructor
 will provide and document reasonable accommodation. The instructor may require the
 student to submit a written explanation of the absence but written excuses from health
 care professionals should not be required.”

 We continue to recommend that HRS offices located at the branch campuses report
 directly to the HRS office in Pullman, especially in the current economic situation.

 We are concerned about the presentation of information for students on-line. On-line
 student policies and procedures are somewhat difficult for students to access, particularly
 if the student is unaware of a policy and, therefore, cannot identify key search words.
We urge the continued development of the web page on plagiarism and paraphrasing.
While examples illustrating proper and improper paraphrasing are given under the link,
“How to Avoid It,” the examples are not actually given until pages 2-4 of the link. Many
students will not make the effort to find the information. The website would benefit more
students if it were streamlined. We urge that it be cross listed or stated as “Plagiarism” in
the WSU website index. We continue to urge all faculty to reference the web page on
their course syllabi. We also urge all faculty to spend time developing clear, concise
syllabi particularly with regard to citations, plagiarism, and paraphrasing.

We urge faculty to be clear in directions on group projects, team work, and individual
responsibility. Faculty need to be clear on how individual reports/papers from team or
group efforts will be evaluated.

We also continue to strongly recommend that those personnel in supervisory/
administrative positions, including faculty, be required to take mandatory training on
performance evaluation techniques to insure accurate, honest, tactful, and constructive
reviews. If at all possible, annual review by new supervisors who have no direct
knowledge of an employee’s work performance should be avoided, especially if a
negative review puts the employee at risk of losing his or her position. An alternative
protocol should be available to employees in this situation.

We urge that college and departmental administrators visit all campus/sites of the
university system while conducting annual reviews and to be aware of all work site
opportunities and impediments.

We strongly recommend that faculty include the information regarding the appeals
process in the written statements given to students when they have been accused of
cheating and plagiarism. The students have 21 days to appeal such accusations through
the Office of Student Conduct. We note that the Office of Student Conduct is not
notifying students when the office receives an accusation of cheating from faculty.

We urge the goal of courtesy and respect for all continue to be a high priority for faculty,
staff, and students.
APPENDIX:
Breakdown in general problem areas compared to last year.

Problem Area                                  2007-2008     2008-2009
Employment Problems Faculty                          45        32
Grades                                               35        36
Employment Problems Staff                            32        30
Academic Problems                                    32        48
Course Content/Presentation                          21        15
University Housing/Res Life (most non-               11         5
academic student conduct issues are here)
Employment Problems AP                                10       14
Cheating/Plagiarism                                    7       20
Student Services/Activities                            4       12
Advising/Misadvising                                   4        3
Employment Problems Graduate Student                   3        9
Financial Aid                                          3        3
Discrimination                                         3        7
Reasonable Accommodation                               2        3
Employment Problems timeslip                           0        1
Non-Academic Problems                                  0        1
Parking                                                0        0