Where do you go when you have a student issue on campus but don’t know where to go? Dr. Jennifer Kulics, Student Ombuds, is the person for you. She is an authority on my beat, student issues. I sat down with her to get a scope of the issues students are facing here at Kent State.
“I advocate for a fair process for student issues,” Dr. Kulic said,” but not advocate for an outcome”
Dr. Kulic’s office gives students a direct link, while being neutral and impartial, to someone who can resolve their issue. Students come to her office when they need advice on anything from what to do in a personal catastrophe to student teacher relations.
Student issue cases have grown exponentially with more and more cases being dealt with every new semester. From the 2013/2014 school year Student Ombuds dealt with 955 issues. So far for the 2014/2015 school year there have been 527 cases.
Dr. Kulic predicts a continued increase in reported cases for the rest of the year. The biggest month for Student Ombuds is April due to the increase in student’s getting sick and trying to withdraw from their classes.
With so many students asking for help when withdrawing from classes it is a large student issue here on campus that would make a good story idea. Dr. Kulic discussed other issues that her office deals with and that I could turn into informational stories.
Some story ideas that came from the interview for my beat are how students should handle issues with their professors, what to do when dealing with a personal catastrophe, student health, how to make sure your not plagiarizing, late withdraws and class disruptions.
Another area Dr. Kulic directed me toward was Kent States Psychological Services. They offer an array of testing and student services that any student can take advantage of. This would make an excellent story about what psychological issues college students face most.
There are a few issues that may come up with these story ideas. Some of the stories may fall into other people’s beats. Another problem is the Student Ombuds deal in confidentiality; so getting an exact story out of them is impossible.
Dr. Kulic is the Student Ombud, but there are two others like her on campus. They all deal with different groups of the Kent State family. Karen Watson is the Staff Ombuds and Sue Avrill is the Faculty Ombuds. These two could be other key decision makers for future story progression.
These Ombuds offer a confidential direct link for students, staff and faculty to resolve their issues with Kent State University and are great source for information for my beat.