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Student Complaint Procedure

Although the University and its Colleges have a variety of procedures for dealing with student-initiated complaints, including grade appeals, general harassment, sexual harassment complaints, disability accommodations, and discrimination, those procedures generally have not covered student complaints about faculty conduct in the classroom or other formal academic settings. The University recognizes that the instructor has the authority to maintain appropriate classroom behavior and respects the academic freedom of the faculty (see Board of Visitors Policy 1403: Academic Freedom). The University will not normally interfere with content or style of teaching activities. The University recognizes the responsibility to establish procedures for addressing student complaints about faculty conduct that is not protected by academic freedom and not addressed in other procedures (see Board of Visitors Polilcy 1502: Student Rights and Freedoms).

  1. General Provisions Procedures
    1. Determination of Appropriate Procedure. The student is responsible for filing the complaint under the proper procedure. Complaints should only be filed using this procedure if there is no other provision available. Failure to follow the appropriate procedures may result in the complaint not being heard.

    2. Student Complaints and Concurrent Procedures
      The act of filing a complaint under this procedure will not normally delay any pending process or procedure involving the student and/or faculty member. Normally, any concurrent process or procedure will move forward independently of the student complaint, though it may be delayed for good cause as determined by the appropriate University official(s).
    3. Retaliation
      No student who files a complaint under this procedure shall be subject to any form of retaliation by any person, department, program or college.
  2. Procedures
    1. STEP 1 - Informal Resolution. Students must first attempt to resolve complaints informally. Given the nature of complaints covered by this procedure, it is expected that in all but the most unusual circumstances, students will first raise the issue with the faculty member. In the event this is not feasible, the student will contact the Department Chair. In instances where there is no Department Chair, the student should contact the Program Director.

    2. STEP 2 - Formal Complaint. If the issue is not resolved informally, the student may contact the Department Chair or Program Director if there is no Chair. In instances where the Chair is the subject of the complaint, the student should contact the Dean of the College to which the chair is assigned. The student must contact the Chair (or Program Director if there is no Chair or Dean if the Chair is the subject of the complaint) within 30 business days of the action from which the complaint rises or the complaint will be barred. The Chair or Dean has the discretion to accept a complaint filed after this deadline for good cause.
      The complaint must be in writing and contain:
      1. The student’s name and University Identification Number

      2. The faculty member’s name and the course subject area prefix and number

      3. A detailed description of the nature of the complaint

      4. A detailed description of attempts at informal resolution with the faculty member and Chair

      5. A detailed description of the relief sought

    3. STEP 3 - Investigation

                 The Chair may designate a faculty member to investigate the complaint. If the Chair is the subject of the complaint, the student shall contact the academic Dean who will designate a faculty member to investigate the complaint. The person investigating the complaint will meet, either independently or collectively, with the student and the person who is the subject of the complaint within 10 business days from the filing of the complaint. The decision should be issued in writing to the student and the faculty member within 20 business days of the date the complaint is filed.

                 The complaint process is not intended to be an adversarial hearing and both the interviews of the student and the faculty member will usually be conducted without the other present.

    4. STEP 4 - Appeal Procedure. If the student is not satisfied with the resolution in Step 3, the student may file a formal appeal with the appropriate academic Dean. The appeal must be filed within five business days after the decision in Step 3 has been sent. The Dean has the discretion to accept a complaint filed after this deadline for good cause.
      The appeal must be in writing and contain:
      1. The student’s name and University Identification Number

      2. The faculty member’s name and the course subject area prefix and number

      3. A detailed description of the nature of the complaint

      4. A detailed description of attempts at resolution with the faculty member and Chair or Program Director

      5. A detailed description of the relief sought

      6. A copy of the Chair’s (or Program Director’s) finding and supporting documents. (No new information is permitted.)
        1. The Dean shall provide the faculty member and Chair or Program Director a copy of the appeal.

        2. The Dean may consider the appeal or appoint a faculty member to consider the appeal. The person appointed shall not have been involved as a decision maker in Steps 1-3 above.

        3. The person considering the appeal shall review the materials and issue the finding within 30 business days from the date the appeal is filed. The review of materials will generally occur outside the presence of the complainant and respondent, and it will be limited to a review of the record. The person considering the appeal may interview any person, such as the original decision-maker, as needed.

        4. The person making the decision shall first determine whether the conduct in question is protected by academic freedom and whether the student’s complaint is best addressed by this process.

        5. At the end of the review, a written decision will be issued. A copy of the decision will be sent to the complaining student, the faculty member, and the Chair or Program Director.

        6. The decision by the designee of the Dean is final.

- Approved by the president
May 13, 2011

          


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