GW may cut complaint line

GW administrators said they are making proposals for a program to replace the anonymous faculty complaint line, which officials said will be disconnected but did not specify when.

Professors said they assume the line will be cut soon because of “pressures” the University has faced from GW faculty members and outside organizations.

The line was still connected as of Wednesday. Operators said Pinkerton Security Services, which takes the calls, had not heard anything about GW cutting the line.

Art professor Lilien Robinson, chairwoman of the Faculty Senate, said GW is forming a committee of professors to formulate a new complaint program, which is required by federal law.

Robinson said there are other places on campus where faculty and students can go to voice their opinions.

“At the moment we do have different places where you can go to complain,” Robinson said. “You as a student will go to a faculty member, then the chair of department, then the dean.”

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said GW may set up a staffed office open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that would allow students and faculty to file complaints, but nothing has been put in place yet.

Banzhaf suggested creating a panel to handle student and faculty member complaints if they feel uncomfortable addressing a particular professor or dean with a concern. The Law School already has such a committee.

Faculty Senate members said they never agreed to the line, implemented in February by Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz.

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said in an April 29 Washington Times story that “one of my vice presidents got a little carried away,” referring to Katz.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a non-profit education foundation that advocates free speech and other rights on college campuses, also denounced the service. The toll-free number, 1-888-508-5275, is run 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Pinkerton, located in North Carolina.

The United States Sentencing Commission, a federal agency, suggests all organizations, including universities, have compliance programs to protect themselves from criminal liability, according to its sentencing guidelines.

The guidelines outline seven criteria for establishing an effective compliance program but are broad “in order to encourage flexibility and independence by organizations in designing programs that are best suited to their particular circumstances.”

An anonymous phone line is not mandated by the guidelines.

Faculty Senate member and GW Law School professor John Banzhaf said Pinkerton has been trying to convince campuses that an anonymous is mandated by law.

-Kate Stepan contributed to this report.

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