By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

With the end of the Spring 2019 semester soon coming to an end, former vice chancellor for Student Affairs Brenda Ivelisse expressed awareness that some students might come forward to express concern regarding their course grades, specifically to assert that they believe they deserve a better grade than what their professor has given them.

To help alleviate stress and guide students through this type of situation, Ivelisse said she wants students to know that there is a process that they can go through in order to resolve this type of academic grievance.

“The role that our office takes is that we’re an advocate for the student,” said Ivelisse, who left KCC in early April for a position on the mainland. “If at any time the student wants us to step in or help them through the process, be there basically to support them through the process, we’re happy to do that as well.”

For students who are grieving over a grade that they felt should have been higher, Ivelisse said they need to speak with their professor first to try and resolve the situation at the lowest level. According to the student guide for academic grievance procedures, students must make a reasonable attempt to discuss their dissatisfaction toward their final grade with their professor within 30 business days after final grades have been made official.

Ivelisse said that if the professor refuses to change the status of that student’s grade, students can then choose to approach the respective department chair of the course’s subject (if it’s an English professor who denied a grade change, the student would then go to the English department’s chairwoman, Lisa Kanae). Doing so would mean that the student would have to fill out Form 1 of the student grievance request to hand to the department chair.

Students can choose to fill out this form online or visit the Student Services office in ʻIlima 205.

From this point, after the department chair has consulted with the professor involved and finds that there is no merit to change the grade, there are two more levels that students would approach if disapproval continues: the course’s respective dean and office of the vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, Susan Kazama.

If all four levels ultimately feel that the student’s grade should not be changed yet the student believes otherwise, the student then has the right to have his/her case reviewed by the campus’ Academic Grievance Committee (AGC).

Having started up in July 2017, the AGC is a group comprised of one chairperson, two faculty members, and two students who volunteer to independently review academic grievance cases that have come this far. The AGC handles all matters confidentially and meets to discuss the possibility of having the student’s grade improved. 

“I think it’s important to have that student perspective,” said Ivelisse in regards to why the committee has students and faculty serving it. “Students will bring in something different than a faculty might look at it through the lens that they’re going to view the case through, so I think it’s really important that they’re present and they’re there [so] their perspective is heard.” 

Being that the AGC’s decision is the last chance for students to have their grade changed, students are requested to present their case to the committee during a hearing session. Failure to attend can result in the grievance being dismissed. It is within seven business days that the AGC will come to a conclusion and the AGC chair will submit a memo of the committee’s recommendations to the chancellor, Louise Pagotto. Based on the AGC’s findings, Pagotto would inform the student and professor involved of her decision, which is final after it has been announced.

Ultimately, the student will find that their grade has been changed or no action was taken to improve the grade. 

To prepare a committee for Fall 2019, students have been asked to consider volunteering through Student Congress’ general meetings. Student Congress president Allyson Villanueva has been raising awareness of this committee since Student Congress’ first meeting on Jan. 16.

“It gives students the opportunity to help their peers,” Villanueva said in an interview. “Being a part of a committee like that, it gives them a broader perspective of the operations of KCC and campus and just the office of administration side of things.”

The AGC will be looking for two students from those who actively attend Student Congress meetings to be a part of next semester’s serving group.