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  • June/2011

The Society for Human Resource Management President Speaks Out

by Student
June 30, 2011

By Guest Blogger
Laurie Rhind
Argosy University - Online Programs Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) President

Membership truly does have advantages!

When you join national SHRM, you don’t just get the national membership benefits (which are impressive!), you also become eligible to join our virtual student SHRM chapter. The cost is a mere $35.00/year compared to the full price of membership at $180.00/year. You may wonder what this membership is all about and why it is important to belong to the National Group. SHRM at the national level is a well-respected organization in the Human Resource field; some have called it THE premier association in HR. If you plan on being a Human Resource Manager, or work in any professional field that involves a lot of people skills, it is in your best interest to join. The rewards of this organization are virtually limitless. It is the one stop to access all information pertaining to all aspects of the Human Resource position you may hold. SHRM is known to be the lifeline of many HRM at all levels; I am one who believes this. I have accessed their site many times for professional and now educational use. What we can’t stress enough is how they disseminate information for us to stay up to date on legal issues and federal laws. They are there as a resource to assist you in the time of need. So, please understand if you want to join our group, a National SHRM membership is required. We don’t want to be rude by not allowing you to join; however, strict guidelines have been set for us to abide by at this time. There is no way for us to cut a corner.

Please check out SHRM.org, sign up for a membership and come join our group. We are young, yet growing. Please come visit us or send an email, we would like to hear from you with any questions, concerns, or comments you may have.

Are you an Argosy University Online Programs student interested in writing for this blog? Check the Welcome Center in the Campus Common to find out how!

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Dealing with Constructive Criticism

by South University
June 30, 2011

In the online learning environment, you may be exposed to more constructive criticism than you have at any point in your career. Your classmates are required to comment on your assignments and thoughts, just as you are on theirs. At first blush, this situation may be difficult to stomach. You may feel like you, personally, are under attack, and it’s tempting to become defensive. You worked hard to put the assignment or thoughts together. Can’t your fellow students understand that? Perhaps it’s not that your classmates are too critical, but that you need to change your frame of mind.

As the recipient of constructive criticism, it’s important to remember that your colleagues aren’t attacking you, and you need to separate yourself from the work. The goal of having your colleagues comment on your work is not to tear you apart, but rather to provide you with feedback that will help you become a better student. Constructive criticism, when given effectively, can improve your work and ensure that you’re seeing the whole picture of the assignment.

In a traditional classroom, it’s easy to become complacent. Many classes don’t require participation, and what usually happens is that the same two to three people offer their thoughts in each class. Online learning requires that you remain engaged in the subject, and collaboration from your colleagues reinforces the instructor’s lecture.

It’s tempting to look at your colleagues’ feedback as a curse, but if you understand why you’re receiving it, you’ll find that it’s actually more of a blessing.

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The Internet and its Impact on the Healthcare Industry

by South University
June 27, 2011

In today's society, we rely heavily on technology to gain access to information and to complete research. The information we acquire online can be a valuable tool, particularly when it comes to healthcare. For example, if we’re experiencing symptoms at a particular time, rather than heading directly to the doctor’s office, we can search online and find other individuals with similar symptoms and determine what they might mean. This culture of “needing to know” doesn’t eliminate the need to go to the doctor, but it creates a better informed, more connected community.

For example, an MSN Health article entitled “Is Social Networking Changing the Face of Medicine?” discusses the backlash incurred when new regulations proposed that women didn’t need to begin having mammograms until age fifty, as opposed to the previous guideline of forty. A number of women, who felt that beginning mammograms at forty may have saved their lives, took to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to express their outrage. In the end, the guidelines set forth by the American Cancer Society remained unchanged.

In the situation described above, it can be argued that public opinion and the use of technology only helped, but there’s a fine line between helpful and incorrect. As with any situation concerning the internet, it’s just as easy to broadcast incorrect information as it is to relay the facts. But there’s no denying that information can be a valuable tool if used wisely.

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South University Spring 2011 Commencement Ceremony

by South University
June 24, 2011

On Saturday, June 18, South University held its Spring 2011 commencement ceremony in Savannah, Georgia. Many of the over 1,000 online students who earned their degrees this winter and spring attended the ceremony. To view the commencement video and read the names of the online graduates, check out our graduation website. Congratulations, graduates!

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Tenant Rights and Landlord Responsibilities in a Rental Lease Agreement

by Jared Newnam
June 24, 2011

When a tenant signs a rental lease agreement, a certain amount of landlord responsibilities are assumed by the owner of the rental property. Specific tenant rights vary from state to state, but renters need to be aware that they can take action against a negligent landlord.

David Shapiro, director of the Legal Studies department at South University — Richmond, says that tenants should communicate any issues they have with their landlord in writing.

“Keep a copy of whatever you send,” Shapiro says.  “It’s hard to ignore a letter. If you think the landlord is playing games, you can always send a copy by certified mail. It’s well worth the money because you have actual proof that you sent him this.” 

Shapiro says it depends on the terms of the rental lease agreement as to what the tenant rights and landlord responsibilities involve. 

“Almost every state requires that the landlord is responsible for keeping the premises habitable,” Shapiro says.

He says that keeping a rental property habitable includes things such as ensuring it has hot and cold running water, heat, windows with screens that close, is water tight, and is free of rodent or insect infestation. 

It may be worth paying a lawyer for an hour of time to find out what your rights are.

If the landlord does not make necessary repairs, says Maggie Kinnear, director of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s Tenant Hotline, the tenant needs to keep good records to show that the landlord was on notice of the need for the repair.  She says that tenant rights allow the renter the following options:

1) Repair and Deduct. “This should only be done for minor repair issues and the tenant should contact an attorney before attempting this remedy to make sure all of his or her bases are covered because the tenant has to have a very thorough paper trail, including receipts and notices to the landlord,” Kinnear says.

2) Contact Code Enforcement. “Each city or county has a housing code ordinance and inspectors who can require the landlord [to] make repairs and may bring the landlord before a court that can fine or imprison the landlord, depending on the severity of the violation[s],” Kinnear says.

3) File a lawsuit seeking damages based on the landlord's failure to make repairs. “This can include actual damages suffered by the tenant, general damages, punitive damages, as well as diminution,” Kinnear says.

4) Move. “If the place is not habitable, the tenant may be able to claim that there was a constructive eviction and break the lease,” Kinnear says. “Any tenant who thinks they may be in that situation should contact a lawyer and should also have the property inspected by Code Enforcement before they move out. The default rule is that a tenant-at-will must give 30 days notice; however, if there was a lease agreement, then the tenant should check that agreement to determine what the timeline is for giving notice.”

renters rights

Kinnear says that Georgia law does not allow tenants to withhold rent. 

Shapiro agrees that tenants should never withhold their rent from the landlord.

“Once you get past the state of notifying the landlord and he doesn’t comply, consult a lawyer,” Shapiro says. “It may be worth paying a lawyer for an hour of time to find out what your rights are. You can actually escrow your rent in some states.”

In order to do this, Shapiro says you must file a court action. Instead of paying rent to the landlord, the tenant pays into an escrow account. The landlord has to go to court and prove he’s fixed the problem to receive the rent money, Shapiro says.

Importance of Reading the Rental Lease Agreement

Shapiro says that it depends on the terms of the rental lease agreement as to whether a landlord can raise the rent more than once per year.

“Generally the landlord is not allowed to raise the rent more often than once per year,” Shapiro says.  “When the lease is getting ready to continue into the next year or renew, then you should consult [with your landlord] to see what amount it will be.”

Shapiro advises tenants to watch out for automatic lease renewals, where they need to tell the landlord by a certain date that they do not plan to renew their lease, because otherwise it will be automatically renewed for them.

“Sit down and read the entire lease,” Shapiro says. “If you have a question, talk to a lawyer.”

Landlord Responsibilities with the Security Deposit

Kinnear says that a landlord has 30 days from the date that the tenant moves out to either return the security deposit, or send a written notice detailing why they are keeping some or all of the deposit.

“The notice must be sent to the tenant's last known address, so the tenant should have his or her mail forwarded and should give the landlord written notice of his or her new address,” Kinnear says. “If no notice is sent, the tenant is entitled to the deposit back and may be entitled to treble damages if the landlord has 10 or more rental units.”

If a tenant does not receive their security deposit, a notice detailing why they will not be receiving their security deposit, or if they disagree with the reason they will not be receiving their security deposit back, they may need to file a lawsuit to recover the deposit, Kinnear says.

The information in this article is provided for general information purposes and should not be relied on as a substitute for actual legal advice. You are encouraged to consult with an attorney to obtain professional legal advice on renters’ rights.

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