The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities conducted a seven year review of Lane Community College last year. As part of the process, a group of accreditors visited the college late in October, 2014. During the student forum, several students were outspoken and critical of the college’s complaint process, saying that it was confusing and lacked in-person help.
Following their visit, the accreditors recommended that Lane improve the complaint process. In response, college administrators have overhauled the entire process. Before the changes, students were required to go to the Lane website, find and print the correct document and take it to the appropriate office.
The MyLane website has been upgraded with an online tool, and the complaint process now consists of two more clearly defined procedures, formal and informal. Previously, students experienced difficulty understanding the difference between the two procedures.
“We had a very difficult time drawing a line and saying this is when it shifts from informal to formal,” Executive dean of student affairs Kerry Levett said.
College administrators recognized that although the system was designed to empower students in solving problems themselves, the system didn’t work for everyone. This was especially true when a power differential existed between the student and the person the student was complaining about.
“We thought, well we need to simplify this and make it less confusing for students,” Levett said. “They [students] also have the option to file a formal complaint so instead of saying you have to do the informal first and then the formal we now give the student the choice of what they’re most comfortable with.”
The current procedures can only be accessed through the College Online Policy and Procedures System on the Lane website, but will be put on myLane as soon as revisions and updates are complete.
“They’re going to look and be very different than what currently exists in COPPS because we’re trying to take a more student-perspective on these,” Levitt said. “So we’re adding visuals, we’re using charts, flow charts, we’re adding color and we’re color coding things.”
The school is also forming a team of complaint coaches who will be available to help students through the process. Once everything is finalized, faculty and staff will be recruited and trained as coaches. Also, students will be offered volunteer coaching positions.
“Then what we plan to do is have a list of these people available and then students can contact these folks.” Levett said.