Andrew Varcoe: Student Ombudsperson for 1994-95Office facilitates resolution of student complaints Andrew Varcoe, a fourth-year student in the College concentrating in Fundamentals: Issues & Texts, has been appointed Student Ombudsperson for the 1994-95 academic year. He will be assisted by Lisa Grunberger, a graduate student in the Divinity School.
The ombudsperson's charge is to facilitate the resolution of student complaints arising out of life at the University that have not been resolved through normal channels. Students can bring complaints -- from grade appeals to problems in residence halls to sexual harassment -- to the ombudsperson, who may then refer them to the appropriate department or work with students, faculty and administrators to find acceptable solutions.
In addition to being ombudsperson, Varcoe is a Student Marshal and a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Maroon Key Society. He gained insight into the role of the ombudsperson when his friend Katy Bailey held the office two years ago. "I saw the work she was doing, and it seemed beneficial," Varcoe said. "I'm interested in learning how people work and how this complicated, wonderful university works."
Varcoe spent part of summer quarter, his first quarter in office, reviewing files and becoming acquainted with University systems. He said records indicate that the percentage of students registering complaints has decreased over the past few years. "I don't think that's because fewer people know about the office," Varcoe said. "I think it's because the University has become more efficient."
Varcoe said he considers his job to be backup for the University's routine procedures. "I don't regard this office as a forum for venting general gripes, as necessary as that might be," he said. "What I try to do is help students who have particular complaints about some aspect of the University in cases when the formal channels seem to have failed. Students shouldn't feel they can't talk to administrators -- in fact, they ought to do so. But when they've tried and failed, I welcome them. I offer advice, I mediate in cases when that seems necessary, and I keep our conversations in strict confidence."
As part of his duties, Varcoe meets weekly with Jonathan Kleinbard, Vice President for University News & Community Affairs, and Edward Turkington, Dean of Student Services.
The Student Ombudsperson is appointed by the president to a one-year term after receiving the recommendation of a student-faculty committee that interviews candidates.
The Student Ombudsperson's Office, located in Reynolds Club 001B, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students may drop in or make an appointment by calling 702-8422.