A North Idaho College Student's Complaint and the Response from the NWCCU

"Dear Dr. Ramaswamy,

I hope this email finds you well amid such crazy times. I'm a non-traditional student at North Idaho College. I'm also enrolled at the University of Idaho. I worked in healthcare for seven years before deciding to go back to school in hopes of pursuing medicine.

I unfortunately must add to your inbox load as you received a complaint letter that needs some much-needed context. I am saddened that I need to even draft this email, but you need to hear the actual truth. The fact that things are being taken out of context and asserted to mean something that was never intended really calls into question the motivation of the authors of the complaint letter. It is dated March 12, 2021 and is from a variety of so-called "task forces". One of the first complaints they alleged against board chair Todd Banducci is taken directly from some email correspondence that I initiated towards him. I reached out to Mr. Banducci after trying for at least a full year to try and get some help and resolution from NIC regarding myself being severely discriminated against. In my journey for the right thing to be done, I compiled over 150 pages showing how NIC professors and administrators failed to uphold NIC policies, their NIC syllabus, and common decency towards fellow human beings. I have large and dusty piles of emails between various staff and admin at the college. Dr. Lita Burns was my main correspondence as she is vice president of instruction. In a nutshell, she told me that nothing wrong happened to me and that nothing would be done to right the situation. I was devastated by this as it's rather demeaning when someone negates over 150 pages of factual evidence coupled with the trauma I had to endure. At the hands of NIC professors and administrators, my academic and intellectual freedom was trampled on a variety of ways. Though it was hard to take such a blow from people I expect and trust to do right, I still am waiting for the college to take appropriate action regarding their egregious actions.

So that is the actual context. The writers of the complaint letter said they "wish to highlight some of the most grievous acts..." and then go on to list three sentences ripped from their actual context. How ironic they accuse Mr. Banducci of "many violations" yet use a conversation where a student was reaching out to him for help because of the many violations NIC had committed! I have cc'd the signers of this absurd complaint letter and two leaders at NIC. I say absurd because I've tried for two years to get some resolution at NIC yet these "task forces" have been silent and not in my corner whatsoever. NIC is purposefully silencing voices that disagree (myself and many others) and trying to oust publicly elected officials that might challenge such silencing (Todd). I assume you won't stand for such things and would want truth and fairness to prevail.

I was also able to read the letter that you sent to Dr. MacLennan. In it you say you will be investigating non-discrimination and academic freedom. I jumped for joy on the inside as I read this. I hope my clarifying remarks help to properly balance your facts on the matter in hopes for a fair and unbiased investigation. I personally would have liked an investigation a year ago so that what's actually going on at NIC could be corrected. Discriminating against students who hold different viewpoints should not exist on college campuses. I simply wanted to use a book (published by Cambridge University Press) that the NIC library had for a group project. This book had intellectual disagreements with the status quo at NIC. I had no idea I could contact your organization for help or recourse and Dr. Burns never even mentioned that as an option. In fact, she ended any further discussion on the matter by simply "acknowledging receipt" of my last email. Sweeping things under the rug should not be the practice at a center of higher education. I sincerely hope you agree and please feel free to reach out if you need any more information. Unfortunately, a lot has built up as this has dragged on for over two years now.

In my over 2 years of trying to get some simple justice at NIC I have contacted a few law firms as a last straw decision. They didn't see a small community college as a big enough deal to take up the case. Yet since the administrators at NIC and these so called "task forces" are increasing the absurdity and publicity, maybe these law firms will also have their interest piqued as the stakes are growing larger. If proper and fair corrective steps continue to be refused by the NIC administration, I will be in contact with some law firms.

I'll end this unfortunate email on a few positive notes. If I hadn't been discriminated against, I would have virtually zero complaints against NIC. The location and affordability are second to none. I've lived in Coeur d'Alene for over 20 years and NIC has always been a staple in the community. So many of the professors have given me a wonderful education so I know this institution has a myriad of commendable qualities. It just needs simple accountability regarding the allowance of various viewpoints, following its own policies, and treating everyone equally. Thank you for your time, Dr. Ramaswamy, and please have a wonderful weekend."

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This was the response from the President of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities:


"After a thorough review of your email and the 146-page attachment, we have determined this situation is not material to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities’ (NWCCU) policy, Receipt of Unsolicited Information.

Your complaint is based on your description of a situation regarding one course delivered at North Idaho College (NIC) by two faculty members and your allegations of poor oversight.

As an institutional accreditor, we do not consider your complaint to be at an institutional level and subject to NWCCU Eligibility Requirements, Standards for Accreditation, or Policies, pursuant to NWCCU’s Complaints regarding member and candidate institutions policy.

Specifically, we conclude there is no basis as a complaint for these reasons:

  1. You failed to provide a statement of facts, supported by evidence of non-compliance with a specific eligibility requirement, standards for accreditation, or NWCCU policy.

  2. You failed to provide a statement of facts, supported by evidence, that your complaint is not simply an individual grievance.

  3. We did not find evidence of similar complaints from other students, nor did we find evidence of systematic, discriminatory policies and procedures that negatively impact students.

  4. You failed to demonstrate, absent extraordinary circumstances, that you first complied with the grievance process of NIC.

  5. You failed to disclose whether litigation is also being pursued by you.

  6. You failed to provide a summary of the relief requested from NWCCU.

In light of the above, this matter is considered closed."

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"That's ridiculous, Dr. Ramaswamy.

I reached out to you originally because Todd Banducci was being distorted to your organization and you accepted that complaint. I'm the student in question which included the accepted complaint about Todd. Ironically, that simply gave me a chance to let you know the issues me and many other students have faced from NIC's lack of professionalism and decorum. Your lack of authenticity towards simple truth and closing equity gaps is astounding. I will make sure to keep these emails if any nefarious actions come from your organization in relation toward NIC. I'm curious if you even read through my documentation. I have professors and top administrators at the school failing to uphold basic decency and NIC policies. For you to list things that I did specifically provide as if I hadn't is very telling of your character. You are correct that I didn't include what relief I want so here it is. Pretty simple stuff."




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