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Do I have solid grounds for filing a complaint against a professor?

subterraneangermsubterraneangerm 2 replies1 threads New Member
Hello everybody, it's my first time ever visiting these forums, there is an amazing community here along with an incredible amount of advice and information. Hopefully, someone will be able to tell me if I would be wasting my time to pursue this or not. The situation is as follows: I failed a course this past semester due to not submitting my work on time. So for the summer session I signed up for the same exact course with a different professor in order to take advantage of the grade forgiveness policy at my college. Since I still had all my work from the prior semester for the same exact course, I submit it after checking the student handbook to ensure it is not against policy (it's not) as well as verifying with the Academic Dean and a school enrollment specialist to make sure its okay (in writing). After submitting my work for the semester, as the course was entirely open, the instructor writes an email accusing me of cheating and made it seem like I was trying to be dishonest/lacking integrity when the course assignments are exactly the same as the previous instructor's. I have it on the dean's word that what I did was acceptable and another important thing to note, the current instructor is hypocritically guilty of actual plagiarism and not just self plagiarism as she used the previous instructors course assignments and readings word for word. I then contact the head of the student dean's office once more to clarify the policy to her on my behalf. All of a sudden, a few days later I get notifications that course content is changing and being removed. I believe this was done in order to invalidate my work that I previously did in an effort to single me out and retaliate against me for requesting the dean to intercede on my behalf. If there is anyone with some advice on whether to pursue a filing a complaint or not, please give me your thoughts. Thank you all for your help in advance.
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Replies to: Do I have solid grounds for filing a complaint against a professor?

  • Boxcar101Boxcar101 60 replies0 threads Junior Member
    As some instituitions the professors hold all the cards. Even if your complaint is legitimate, at those institutions they may have avenues to make your life miserable. So you could win the battle but lose the war.

    Other institutions give most of the cards to the students. There you can file a complaint and it will be taken seriously and not likely result in retribution.

    Because I don't know what kind of institution you are at, as a practical matter I can't tell you what the outcome of a complaint would be.

    That being said, it's not clear to me what relief you are asking for. If you are just complaining because it will be cathartic but aren't asking for any specific outcome it probably isn't worthwile to pursue.

    Don't get so mad at your teachers that you hurt yourself with no goal in mind.
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  • subterraneangermsubterraneangerm 2 replies1 threads New Member
    I am sorry, currently I am at a two year community college it's also my last course before graduating and I suppose I would like for her to not change the course assignments and readings just in an attempt to hurt me.
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  • scmom12scmom12 3220 replies21 threads Senior Member
    As someone who knows college teachers, I can tell you they often use a former instructors syllabus, so that is not plagiarism. Also, changing a course is a pain - unlikely the instructor is doing it because of you. Hopefully the content is similar enough that it makes taking the class this time easier - just pay attention to deadlines.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3421 replies77 threads Senior Member
    I am sorry, currently I am at a two year community college it's also my last course before graduating and I suppose I would like for her to not change the course assignments and readings just in an attempt to hurt me.

    The professor can change the assignments anytime they like for whatever reason they like, provide they change it for everyone in the class and not just you. As long as you are not in trouble for plagiarism, I don't see what the problem is. You signed up for a different professor. Had the assignments been the same as your previous class and you were allowed to reuse them, it would be a bonus, but you can hardly expect or demand that to be the case.

    Also, whoever put together the original syllabus, course plan, and assignments was doing so while being paid by the university. Therefore the university may actually own that particular curicculum, and can allow any professor it chooses to reuse it. Without a careful review of the relevant employment agreement, you likely have no case against the professor on that account.
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  • subterraneangermsubterraneangerm 2 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for the advice people. :smiley:
    As far as changing the course work so students don't use the same work as the previous semester, I do agree that is completely understandable. However, the fact that she changed it only after being in a conference with the dean telling her to accept the work from a single student is the issue, it was an action performed out of spite and retaliation, not an action based off of a genuine desire to see me grow as a student. Regardless, I suppose you are right, complaining does not make sense at this point as it is my last semester. Thanks for all the help again people, stay cool!
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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3687 replies14 threads Senior Member
    You do not have grounds to file a complaint about the professor because she changed the assignments for everyone. It sounds like you were counting on a sweet gig with being able to recycle old assignments, etc., and when the Dean found out about the reusing of old assignments by the instructor the decision was made to create new assignments for you and everyone else to do. That was a good decision by the Dean and the instructor.

    It was good that you brought it to the attention of various folks that the reusing of old assignments was occurring so that practice could be changed. Good job.
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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3687 replies14 threads Senior Member
    "it was an action performed out of spite and retaliation, not an action based off of a genuine desire to see me grow as a student"

    No, I bet the conversation between the instructor and the Dean was pretty embarrassing for the instructor who basically was being told by her boss not to be so lazy. It wasn't about you.
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  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 561 replies7 threads Member
    EconPop wrote: »
    @subterraneangerm , I think the reason the professor changed the assignments was that your tactic is flaunting the spirit of education. You failed the class because you did not manage your time well enough to turn in your assignments on time. The school allows students to retake a failed class to improve their learning and replace the failed grade. By immediately turning in the entire workload, you have not proven that you have improved your learning skills. You have only proven you know how try to use a cheat code.

    Don't get me wrong, it was kind of sneaky smart on your part to figure out the loophole and take a chance. On the other hand, it would have been smarter to simply wait and turn in each assignment as it was due, instead of turning in everything immediately.

    In light of all the facts, 1) I believe the professor (possibly in consultation with the dean) did change the assignments to single you out. 2)I think the professor was entirely justified in doing so. 3)I think you would have not improved your work habits if your plan had succeeded 4)I think you will definitely improve your study habits and time management skills if you do the new assignments and turn them in on time.

    Yes! I agree with this.

    I teach an online class for a community college. At my college EVERY section of a class (say Marketing 101) is basically the same regardless of who is teaching it. The classes are created by instructional specialists. I assume this is done to ensure that students are getting relatively the same education regardless of who is teaching the course and to ensure quality for accreditation purposes. . There are a LOT of sections of some course being taught at the same time. There are some differences based on the instructor, but nothing major.

    If I was teaching a class and a student submitted all the work for the entire course on day 1 I would be annoyed and probably suspicious of how that could be. It would probably not dawn on me that a student had taken the course before and had all the assignments done. I would think that is not a normal thing to have happen. I assume the instructor spoke to the Dean and their solution was to have the instructor change the assignments moving forward. It probably doesn't impact the other students but it does force you to actually do some work for the class.

    When you were told by the Dean and Instructional Specialist it would be OK to reuse work from one course to another they probably assumed you would be submitting an assignment or two you'd already done, not everything. And while it's not against the rules to do so, it's not against the rules for the professor to make changes to the course. You probably would not be in this position had you not flaunted your situation by submitting everything at once.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7286 replies34 threads Senior Member
    Here's a crazy idea. Learn the material with the help of this professor. What you did was not correct. Your looking for an easy way out. This attitude will not help you going forward with life and life skills. Just be honest and let them know you thought you could just complete the assignments and use your old material and move on. Bravo for the professor changing it up a bit. Now you actually have to learn the material. Don't continue your life looking for easy outs then blaming others when it doesn't work out. Get with learning services/the professor so you do well and get assignments in on time. No excuses. If you have trouble doing that there could be something underlying that needs to be looked at.
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  • HPuck35HPuck35 2135 replies17 threads Senior Member
    Sorry, but your situation just sounds like a little kid whining to me. Put on your big boy pants and actually do the new work to pass the class. The professor is well within their right to change things.

    You have no idea what was said between the dean and the professor. Maybe the dean told the professor to change things. Who knows?

    Fight this with a complaint and you will surely loose as you really have no basis for such a complaint.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10791 replies587 threads Super Moderator
    Maybe the prof did change the course because of the work you submitted. But guess what? You didn’t do the work for the new course. You submitted recycled work. You basically wanted a grade for not doing any work at all. You will get nowhere by complaining.

    There is a reason why we say you earn your grades. You earn by working.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9852 replies377 threads Senior Member
    If I'm understanding correctly, you submitted the work you did for the previous course all at once (or close enough together that the professor noticed) then contacted a dean after you were called out on it to point out that the course assignments were exactly the same and you had it in writing from the college that there wasn't any rule against it. Now you want to complain that the assignments for this semester are changing and the work you did last semester can't count for a grade for this one? The college isn't retaliating against you. They're changing policies based on the new information you provided them.

    Colleges are required to stick to the policies in the current catalog. The graduation requirements that are in place when you start are the ones you graduate under. Course descriptions should match what actually happens in the classroom. But faculty can change assignments whenever they want (within reason).

    Before you transfer to a 4 year college it would probably do you some good to think about why you had such a difficulty getting your work in on time and why you hoped to take the easy way out now. Some colleges would have formally charged you with plagiarism. You can get expelled for things like that.
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  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU 14500 replies106 threads Forum Champion
    Ironically, when you get to work, using other's work (from your employer) is "efficient", not plagiarism.

    So it seems that your situation is:
    1) Despite the fact that you failed last year with this work, you re-used some of your work for an assignment this year.
    2) You checked that that t was okay to do this with the Dean.
    3) Your professor somehow determines that you have re-used an assignment. How did they know? Did you leave an old date on it?
    4) You worked with the Dean to let the Professor know that it was okay for you to do this.
    5) The Professor changed the assignments. One question I would ask is what does the syllabus say about assignments? A Syllabus is usually a contract with the class on what you will be doing and what is expected. If the syllabus says "Essay Comparing two books" and last time it was book X and Y and this time it is Z and Q, that is okay.
    6) DO THE WORK! You failed last time. Do the work and graduate!


    Normally i would say to report the Professor if they changed the syllabus (unless they say in the syllabus that they can change the syllabus), but if your reason is because you want to self-plagiarize I would not recommend it.
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