Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NWACC Responds to Nursing Students’ Claims

The Benton County Daily Record

Author: Unsigned Editorial

With Unsigned Claims, College Responds well

“Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind. Persecuted groups and sects from time to time throughout history have been able to criticize the oppressive practices and laws either anonymously or not at all … It is plain that anonymity has sometimes been assumed for the most constructive purposes.” Hugo L. Black – Supreme Court Justice, 1937-1971

“To me, constructive criticism is when people take ownership of their ideas. That’s why I don’t listen to anything that’s anonymous.” Brene Brown – Research professor and author

The still new president of NorthWest Arkansas Community College responded as well as anyone could to claims of bullying contained in an email criticizing the atmosphere in the school’s nursing program.

No heads rolled. No disciplinary action. No unpending of the program. Why not? The claims were sensational. They were also anonymous. Anonymity at t he least raises questions about veracity and credibility. 

People who do not openly stand by their criticisms do not deserve the same attention as those who will. This criticism came from “Concerned NWACC Nursing Class of 2014.” The email so signed claimed two instructors singled out students to “bully, harass and sabotage their efforts to learn.” It also was critical of teaching techniques. The sender(s) alleged program instructors initially failed 63 percent of the class then changed grades to reflect a 20 percent failure rate.

A reporter for this newspaper made contact with the email account from which the note was sent, identifying its user as a woman who believed her letter speaks for “just about every student in the nursing program.”

“We are taking the allegations from these anonymous students very seriously,” President Evelyn Jorgenson said in a statement. “I am personally looking into the situation and reviewing all available information.”

Jorgenson is responding exactly as she should, by investigating what she can about the claims contained in a document that could be accurate, could be completely false or could result from misunderstandings. The assertions made deserve a serious examination solely by their nature. It’s fathomable prior college administrators viewed the anonymity as the only factor, using it to dismiss the need for a more in-depth review. The sender of this e-mail clearly feels retribution or, worse, inaction. Jorgenson seems to appreciate the value of dealing with such issues directly, and that can only serve to help diminish the anonymous fears and concerns. It will be instructive to learn what comes of the complaint.

Strangely, while the anonymous sender(s) claimed instructors were not teaching and students learned only through their own efforts, a local hospital who hires from the program reports having no issues with the nurses they’ve hired. The college needs a robust program that is challenging academically. After all, nobody wants to have the D-minus student who barely passed working his floor at a hospital. Nursing is a tough job, so a nursing program ought to be tough, but certainly not abusive.

(And, yes, this editorial is unsigned. That’s not anonymity. The daily editorial reflects the stance of this newspaper as determined by an editorial board made up of Publisher Rusty Turner, local editors Mike Jones and Leeanna Walker and Opinion Page Editor Greg Harton.)

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