Problem Solving: The Basics

Contact Us

Please note that the Advocate does spend time at all of the BCIT satellite campuses and so cannot always accommodate drop-in appointments at the BCIT Burnaby Campus. In order to ensure that you are receiving the assistance you need, please arrange for an appointment in advance.

To book an appointment with one of our Advocates, please contact:

Danielle Landeta-Gauthier

BCIT Student Association Advocate
Phone: 604.432.8279
Location: SE2 3rd Floor – Room #303b

Problem Solving: The Basics

  • First and foremost, being aggressive or rude will never help you solve your problem, always remain calm and objective; be polite (this encourages people to want to help you).
  • Review the history of your problem so you can clearly present your perspective. Write down incidents in chronological order. This will help you organize your thoughts and concerns.
  • Be clear about the nature of the problem and what reasonable solution(s) or option(s) you are hoping for.
  • Document, document, document! Write down important information and always keep a record of all the steps you have taken to resolve your problem; who you have spoken to, and the dates & times.
  • Keep copies of all your correspondence (emails, letters, and even text messages) and forms.
  • Ask questions and make sure you understand the other person’s point of view and any advice or instructions that you are given. Sending a follow-up email after a meeting is a great way to ensure clarity.
  • Be prepared for a meeting with instructors or staff by reviewing policies and procedures that relate to your problem, and know your facts.
  • Deal with things immediately! Waiting to deal with a problem may create more problems in the future. Most appeals and other formal processes must be made within specific timelines.
  • Stay cool! Never try to solve a problem when you are angry – wait, cool off, and then try.
  • Don’t give up! BCIT is a big and complex organization. Sometimes the first person you speak to may not be able to help you. Don’t take it personally if they refer to someone else.
  • It’s OK to ask questions.
  • Don’t panic! There are a lot of people at BCIT who want to help you.
  • Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have exhausted all your options or if you don’t know where to begin, then contact the BCITSA Advocate.

Effective Appeals & Complaints

As a BCIT student, you have the right to appeal decisions made about your academic efforts (Academic Appeal), and your non-academic conduct (Decision Review Board), as well as file complaints if you believe you were treated unfairly. Before seeking an appeal, it is important to review the proper procedure associated with it, so that you are appropriately prepared for what is expected of you, and what you can expect from BCIT. The first thing you should do before asking for an appeal or making a complaint is to brainstorm a list of every reason why you believe the appeal or complaint should be reviewed. Disagreeing with a decision simply because you don’t like it is not a good enough reason. Was it a fair decision? Did the decision follow the rules of Procedural Fairness? There need to be specific reasons relating to policy or procedure to warrant a review. Some basic rules to follow when submitting an appeal or complaint:

DON’T RUSH! Far too often students do not take the time to write a proper appeal or complaint. When you rush or submit a poorly written appeal you increase the chances that your request will be denied, even if you have a good case.

BE FACTUAL! Include as much factual detail as possible and where possible reference your comments to supporting documentation. Avoid dramatizing the situation. It is tempting to overstate the case when something is important to us. When feelings are a legitimate part of the message, state it as fact but, again, avoid being overly dramatic.

BE RESPECTFUL TO THE READER! At the very least, students should know the name and the title of the person they are selling an appeal to or making a complaint about. Threatening, name-calling, cajoling, pleading, flattery and making extravagant promises are manipulative and ineffective methods of getting the resolution you are seeking.

BE BRIEF! Yes, it is more work to write a good letter than a long one, but it makes a difference. Decision-makers appreciate the extra effort that goes into composing a good, short letter. It should be written in clear, concise, and succinct sentences.

BE HONEST! If you have actually done something wrong, accept responsibility. Everyone makes mistakes and if you express your regret, and demonstrate that you have learned from the situation, it sends a positive message to the reader.

AVOID ERRORS! A request or complaint will make a better impression if it is typed, free of spelling and grammar mistakes, free of slang, and addressed to the correct person or department.

KEEP COPIES! Photocopy everything, and hold onto it until the matter is settled. Keep copies of all letters sent or received, as well as relevant supporting documents, and forms.