Standing up for students

OSU’s new student advocate Daniel Dietz fights for students rights on campus.

Luke Brenneman, Practicum Contributor

Imagine a student has gotten a grade back from a professor and they are sure there has been a mistake, yet the professor refuses to help, or even worse they are facing disciplinary actions that could result in expulsion.

At Oregon State University Daniel Dietz is the person for students to turn to in crisis. Dietz’s new position this term, as the Associated Students of Oregon State University’s new student advocate in the Office of Advocacy, is dedicated to helping students experiencing conflict within the university. He was hired to help students learn about their rights and assist them in deciding what steps they need to take to resolve any issues.

This year Dietz has helped students with a number of issues including disputes with professors, Student Conduct and Community Standards, conflicts with financial aid and even parking tickets.

“I love working with students because students are powerful self-advocates. People are able to draw on their education and experience to make decisions to give themselves a chance to succeed. We focus on the rights that exist in the world for individual, and articulating those throughout university processes,” Dietz said. “And that’s important because if you don’t demand your rights, they tend to slip away.”

Before coming to OSU, Dietz practiced as an attorney in New York City at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, where he served as a public defender representing clients in family court.

Originally from Oregon, when Dietz returned he worked at the Multnomah County HIV Clinic advocating for those living with HIV and AIDS. Though no longer working in the capacity of an attorney, Dietz is using his extensive knowledge to help make sure OSU students are represented fairly.

Josh Kaufman, Speaker for ASOSU’s House of Representatives collaborates frequently with Dietz, working to assure students have somewhere to turn to when in trouble.

“Daniel is an amazing student advocate, because he’ll drop everything to prioritize helping students. He has the legal background to really represent us well, and he puts it to great use in his work,” Kaufman said. “Often times, the student conduct system effectively treats students as guilty until proven innocent. Having an advocate, paid with student fees, to work specifically for students and represent us in the university system is extremely important.”

Though Dietz is leading the team, he is not the only one there to help students. Fermin Martinez is one of six student interns working in the Office of Advocacy who does research and provides assistance to students in need.

“Students here, at the beginning, are always stressed out or worried about their case. It’s always nice that we can ease the process in some way,” Martinez said.

Another aspect of Dietz’s job is making sure the student’s side is represented when changes to the university’s policies are taking place.

“When there are issues with the university, as much as possible we want the student voice to be heard, loud and clear,” Dietz said.

Currently, Dietz and the student interns are working on developing the student perspective on OSU’s re-write of their academic integrity policies. This is the addendum in every syllabus that details the university’s policy on cheating, plagiarizing and academic dishonesty.

The policy is rarely re-written, so Dietz is working to make sure the students’ perspective is taken into account.

Ryan Khalife, another student intern has been helping represent the student point of view.

“By representing the student voice as best we can, we can try and make sure that students are represented in OSU processes,” Khalife said.

“We try to keep our doors open to students,“ added Dietz. “Including students in crisis, so that if they need to talk to someone today, my goal is to be as available as possible. Check out our website, give us a call, walk in the door, there is no wrong way.”

If a student is having a crisis or is need they can contact the Office of Advocacy at [email protected]