National Guard Soldier Challenges University Policy
By Nadia Crow, Reporter
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - At the University of Northern Iowa a National Guard soldier is challenging university policy. The soldier says he's filed a formal grievance with the school. Specialist James Roethler was one of the nearly three thousand Iowa National Guard soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. After coming home, he enrolled at UNI but still has mandatory military obligations. Now, he's fighting to be able to make-up an exam that could affect his grade.
Specialist James Roethler heads to theater class with a reminder of his service strapped on his backpack.
"I got deployed to Afghanistan at the age of 18 and that afforded me some benefits to go to college,” said Specialist James Roethler.
But with those benefits came struggles like juggling academics with military obligations. The two came head-to-head last week when his Psychology professor moved a test from Wednesday to Friday.
"I went to talk to her and she said well you can't take it,” said Roethler.
Roethler went to a four day drill and missed that test.
"We are serving our country and we can't get out of that obligation without going AWOL,” said Roethler.
His teacher said he and another soldier in the class could drop that grade but couldn't miss any other exams. University policy reads "Students must adhere to each faculty member's policies regarding attendance and make-up work."
So that left Roethler with only one option, file a formal grievance. At a formal hearing he'll have to explain why he missed class and a university panel will decide if he should be awarded a make-up test. Plenty of hurdles, Roethler doesn't think service members should have to jump through.
"If you get sent to active duty status, then they have to make certain allowances. There isn't one regarding drill status or reserve status and I think there should be one implemented,” said Roethler.
University spokesperson Stacy Christensen says, quote "this is the first time the university has ever had a military service grievance." She added, "The University wants to look at the policy again with the policy committee this year."
UNI was selected three times in the top 15-percent of schools that are doing the most to embrace America's veterans. That's an honor from the G.I. Jobs Magazine. Again, the university says they will review their current policy while considering its growing veteran student population. Roethler says he wants to make-up that quiz and he wants to see a formal policy change as well.
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