Problems with a Professor or TA

If you think there's a problem with the way a course is being conducted, or with the behavior of a professor, it's best to approach the professor or T.A. directly. If you aren't comfortable talking with the professor, or if you have and there was not an acceptable resolution to the problem, then you should talk with someone else in the department — an undergraduate advisor or the department chair. Many students find it easier to discuss their difficulties first with an academic advisor who may be aware of the situation and have useful suggestions for dealing with it. If the advisor isn't able to help, you can contact the Executive Director, 460 Austin Hall or by phone (541) 737-4139.

If you still aren't satisfied, you may want to contact the University Ombudsman, Waldo 113 & 116A, (541) 737-7028. An ombudsman is a neutral third party who acts as a mediator, trying to find a resolution to the situation that seems fair and reasonable to all the parties.

Contesting a Grade

If you believe you have been improperly graded you should speak up. You must first discuss the matter with the professor. If you and the professor can't arrive at a satisfactory resolution you should next speak with an academic advisor or the Executive Director, 460 Austin Hall.

You need to be aware, however, that University professors have considerable freedom and independence in the classroom. Thus, the Office of the Associate Dean may not be in a position to intervene.

Talk to Your Classmates

If you feel that you're being treated unfairly in class, or graded unfairly, or if you have a serious complaint about the way in which a class is being conducted, you should talk to your classmates. They may help you see the situation from a different perspective, or may have suggestions for solving the problem. Or you may find that a number of other students in the class are having the same problem. Your position is much stronger if several of you have a similar complaint, or if your classmates can support your version of events. We don't recommend that you descend on the professor en masse — this may be so confrontational that it produces the opposite of the result you're hoping for. A better approach would be to present a letter stating your complaint signed by you and your classmates, or to offer your classmates as supporting witnesses if needed.

Even if you are alone in your complaint, however, or if others are reluctant to join you, it's important that you speak up. While you may not be satisfied with the response, you will be heard. The same complaint registered by individual students, term after term, can have a cumulative effect as great as that of a group of classmates acting together.