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UNI Faculty Senate Calls for Calm as Grievance Naming Professor Raises Tensions

An Iowa National Guardsman and UNI student filed a grievance with the university after he said he was not allowed to make up an exam he missed while attending a Guard drill.

The University of Northern Iowa Faculty Senate is calling for calm as tensions grow on campus related to a grievance filed by a student and Iowa National Guardsman.

The student, freshman James Roethler, said psychology professor Cathy DeSoto denied him the chance to make up a test he missed while attending a Guard drill. On Wednesday, DeSoto said she can only provide a limited explanation of the situation because of student privacy laws. The UNI faculty union said after the matter was publicized in the media DeSoto began receiving hate mail and threats.

The UNI Faculty Senate released a statement Friday afternoon, saying the point of the grievance process is to reach a solution to the dispute and calling for calm as the process takes its course.

"We urge members of the public and the UNI community to reserve judgment on this matter and to allow our processes to work," the statement said. "Though this issue may arouse strong feelings, it is no justification for threatening or belittling phone calls or emails."

The statement said the Faculty Senate has agreed to review the university’s policy on make-up work to see if it appropriately considers military service.

Read more, and read the Faculty Senate's statement below:

UNI Professor Named in Grievance Filed by National Guardsman 'Strongly Patriotic'

National Guardsman Files Grievance With UNI After Missed Exam

The Faculty Senate's statement:

"Cedar Falls, IA, October 26, 2012 -- As leaders at the University of Northern Iowa, we urge calm as our student grievance process works to solve a dispute between a student and professor. Although the case has raised strong opinions, the University of Northern Iowa, like all universities, has policies in place that have been approved by the President and Cabinet for dealing  with situations where students disagree with a faculty member’s course policies or decisions. The student has asserted his rights under that process, and the president of UNI’s student government has put together a faculty/student appeals panel to resolve the student’s grievance. The process begins by the panel sitting down with the student, faculty member, and department head in an attempt to encourage an informal resolution agreeable to both parties. If an informal resolution is not achieved, the panel will issue a confidential ruling binding on both parties.

"Unfortunately, the faculty member in question, who is prohibited by federal law from publicly discussing student grades, has been subjected to hateful, harassing emails. We urge members of the public and the UNI community to reserve judgment on this matter and to allow our processes to work. Though this issue may arouse strong feelings, it is no justification for threatening or belittling phone calls or emails.

"We have tremendous respect for our military, including all those who serve in the National Guard. UNI, with strong support of faculty and staff, has made every effort in recent years to be military and veteran friendly, and has been recognized for its successes in those areas. The UNI Faculty Senate has agreed to review the university’s policy on make-up work to see if it appropriately considers military service. It will do so as expeditiously as possible after this grievance has been settled so as to protect the rights of all parties involved in the current dispute."

Susan Baker, President, UNI AFSCME Union Local 2659

Maureen Clayton, Chair of the Graduate Council

Cynthia Dunn, Chair of the College of Social and Behavioral Science Senate

Jeff Funderburk, Chair of the Faculty

Bryce Kanago, Chair of the College of Business Administration Senate

Kim Maclin, Member of University Faculty Senate

Susan Moore, Chair of the Rod Library Senate

Scott Peters, Chair of the University Faculty Senate

Lt. Col. John Roadcap, Head, Department of Military Science-ROTC

David Saunders, Chair of the Council of Academic Department Heads

Laura Strauss, Chair of the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences Senate

Windee Weiss, Chair of the College of Education Senate

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