Georgia State’s professor reporting process should be painless

Illustration by Roe Gassett | The Signal

In honor of full disclosure, I would like to sit down, sip some tea with you and discuss the professor situation at Georgia State. Among us students, it is no secret that there have been issues involving professors and even more issues in reporting them. 

The university should listen to students and hold professors accountable; however, that is not the case. 

The University has an established system to deal with professor and student issues, including forcing the two parties to talk it out first.

If the situation calls for it, Georgia State offers university ombuds, impartial mediators to assist in conflict management. Ombuds are independent of the university, so they do not represent Georgia State, but they report to the university provost’s office.  

As each situation is unique to the student and is handled differently depending on the professor, an ombudsperson may not be needed. 

I spoke to two students, Angel Clark and Israa Arman, each with a different situation. One used the service of an ombud, and the other dealt directly with the professor. Both tell me that their issues remain unresolved. 

Clark, a junior health informatics major, followed the process when one of her professors would not reply to her emails. She reached out to the ombudsperson’s office, and with their assistance, she communicated with her professor. She contacted the ombudsperson twice before the semester midpoint. The professor was not responding to emails, and then another issue arose, which brought in the department head. 

Following these initial issues, Clark scheduled a meeting before the midpoint to speak with the professor about her grade and class problems. The professor advised her on which sections of the course to work on. However, she continued to have the same issues with the professor.

“Personally, I felt attacked and discriminated against. Instead of my professor providing me with help during our meeting, she continuously insinuated that I was angry for no reason and gave me little encouragement. Instead, she told me it would be better for me to drop out of the class entirely,” Clark said.

It was then that the lab TA accused her of swearing in class, to which Clark pleaded innocence and provided evidence that the professor refused to view. 

She is continuing the appeal and report process regarding her grade in the course. 

Arman, a junior applied linguistics major, had a dispute with her professor’s grading and feedback. She said, “the professor belittled my questions and wouldn’t explain her comments so that I can understand what areas I needed to revise.”

Arman says that the professor did give her a chance to revise one of her assignments but had the same issue with all future work. When she found no resolution, she sent a complaint to the professor’s superior, who redirected her to the professor, in an automated email, telling her she must discuss all professor issues with the professor. 

So she met with the professor and discussed it with her to fix her grades, but it resolved nothing and amounted to the professor taking offense and threatening to report the student to the department head. 

“Georgia State should listen to the wants and needs of their students, that includes reading evaluations and giving them the power to report a professor with their reasoning,” Arman said.

They would like for Georgia State to check the year-end teacher evaluations. Also, Georgia State should both diversify their staff and add professors to departments with few professor options. Many students feel pressured to take classes with professors with low ratings because they have little to no choice otherwise. 

In both situations, Georgia State handled their resolution poorly. In Clark’s case, the ombudsperson did little to settle the dispute. 

“As far as policy and punishment, they can’t do anything because they are a neutral party,” she said. 

While there are options for students, they often leave the issue unresolved.