Resolution of Student Academic Complaints
The College maintains a process for the good faith review and resolution of student complaints that is intended to:
- encourage informal resolution of alleged violations at the lowest unit level;
- allow for a formal resolution mechanism if not resolved informally; and
- provide for appeal to a final decision maker. The final decision following appeal is not appealable further within the College.
Student complaints are brought by students regarding the College’s provision of education and academic services affecting their role as students and must be based on a claimed violation of a College rule, policy, or established practice.
COMPLAINTS NOT COVERED
Complaints not covered by this policy include those regarding:
- disciplinary action under the Code of Student Conduct; or
- College admission decisions.
EXHAUSTION OF REMEDIES
Exhaustion of all informal and formal internal processes at the College is a prerequisite to filing a complaint with an external agency pursuant to this policy. Discussion of the matter through informal means is the preferred starting point. Should that fail, the complainant should use the formal grievance resolution mechanisms provided at each campus. No retaliatory action shall be taken against a student for utilizing these processes.
ADAPTATION FOR CAMPUSES
The President’s designees on each campus are hereby authorized and directed to make and promulgate modifications of the procedural guidelines contained in this policy, which are necessary to reflect the culture, resources, and organization of each campus. Such modifications shall be effective when approved by the President, acting under the delegated authority of the Board of Trustees.
There may be occasions when a student has a concern or a complaint about a course or an instructor, e.g., about a course requirement, class procedure, or grades. A concern about a course or instructor should be expressed no later than 30 days into the start of the next semester. The student should, whenever possible, first approach the instructor for clarification and resolution. Addressing a challenging situation at this level provides an opportunity for both the student and instructor to work together to find a mutual resolution in the spirit of understanding and patience. If, after contacting the instructor the student still has concerns, the student should address them to the appropriate department Chair who will work to help the student and instructor resolve the matter. Individual academic departments may establish their own internal procedures for handling student concerns. The informal complaint resolution process is expected to be completed within one month.
If the informal resolution process is not able to resolve the concern, the student may file a formal grievance by the end of the semester following the semester in which the alleged grievance occurred, or as soon as is reasonably possible.
A student files a grievance by submitting a complaint in writing to the campus Provost or Vice President of Academic Affairs (for an academic grievance) or the Director of Student Affairs or designee (for a personal grievance) (the “Arbiter”). The statement should include: (1) a complete narrative of the circumstances giving rise to the grievance; (2) identification of the parties involved; (3) a statement of the desired remedy; and (4) any supporting documentation.
The Arbiter will determine whether the complaint has sufficient substance to be deemed a grievance. If so, the student will be notified and the grievance will be routed to the appropriate department Chair or supervisor for a preliminary investigation and hearing with the aggrieved student.
Information from any source and in any manner determined to be useful in reaching a recommendation may be used. The department Chair or supervisor will present a final report and recommendation to the Arbiter. The student shall also be notified of the recommendation.
Should the recommendation not be acceptable to the student, the case may be appealed to the College President. The President’s decision is final within the College appeal process and cannot serve as the basis for a new complaint.
Since students are encouraged to use the College grievance procedures when they believe that they have been unfairly treated, there must be no retaliation taken against any employee who gives information or appears before the Judicial Committee. Retaliation will not be tolerated and will subject an individual to College disciplinary procedures.