Student Affairs

Allen University Student Grievance Procedure

 Why do We Need a Student Grievance Procedure?

In an ideal world, everyone would act in a caring manner and all decisions would be fair and just, and all involved would be in complete agreement as to what constitutes fairness and justice. However, this would be in an ideal world, and we live with differences of opinion while always pursuing what is believed to be fair and just.

Most students believe they have been treated fairly and justly by the university, and by all of the individuals representing Allen University.  The university’s Student Grievance Procedure is a mechanism by which a student may seek to remedy a situation where she/he feels she/he has been treated unfairly, and has not been able to obtain justice in any less formal manner.

Policy Goal: Conflict Resolution

Before invoking the Student Grievance Procedure, a reasonable effort shall be made by those involved in a dispute to resolve it amicably. A dispute is most effectively handled and resolved by those closest to the problem, having the best understanding of the issues, and having the ability to formulate a mutually acceptable resolution. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the student, the potential subject of a Grievance, and the university to resolve disputes through open and cooperative dialogue. Only when such efforts are unsuccessful should the Student Grievance Procedure be invoked. Throughout all phases of the Student Grievance Procedure, all reasonable efforts shall be made to maintain confidentiality in accordance with applicable law.

Student Non-Academic Grievance/Complaint and Appeal Process

 

Policy Statement
Allen University recognizes the importance of providing a prompt and efficient procedure for fair and equitable resolutions of a nonacademic grievance or appeal. A nonacademic grievance or appeal alleges discrimination by a university employee on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability or involves personal behavior and/or university policy. Accordingly, students are encouraged to use the nonacademic grievance or appeal process without fear, prejudice, or reprisal for initiating the process or participating in its resolution.

A non-academic grievance or appeal is an allegation by a student concerning (1) a university employee, faculty, staff and/or administrator, (2) administrative policies, procedures, regulations or requirements of the university, (3) actions impeding a campus climate of intellectual diversity, (4) student employment, or (5) a university program, service or activity. Students shall have the right to file a grievance and/or appeal according to established procedures.

 

Procedures
to resolve a nonacademic grievance and/or appeal:

  1. The student shall file a written grievance and/or complaint to the Office of Student Affairs for the action which forms the basis of the grievance. The complaint shall contain a clear and concise statement of the grievance, the remedies sought and a request for a meeting with the involved person or persons. The complaint must be filed within ten (10) days of the event, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
  2. The respondent shall schedule a meeting with the student within ten class days of the filed grievance, complaint and/or appeal, to discuss the matter. A written reply by the respondent to the student indicating the results of the meeting and including further action, if any, to be taken shall be attached to the written grievance.
  3. If the student is not satisfied with the results of the reply, and wants the grievance to be considered further, the student shall appeal in writing to the Vice President for Student Affairs to seek a resolution. This consultation must begin within ten (10) class days after the conclusion of the reply with the respondent. A written reply by the Vice President for Student Affairs to the student indicating the results of the meeting and including further action, if any, to be taken shall be attached to the written appeal.
  4. The decision of the Vice President for Student Affairs will become the final campus decision on the grievance or appeal. A written reply by the Vice President to the student indicating the results of the meeting and including further action, if any, to be taken shall be attached to the written grievance or appeal. The student and appropriate university officials shall be notified in writing of the decision within ten class days after the last consideration of the grievance or appeal.
  5. Written documentation of the student’s complaint and/or grievance will remain in the Office of Student Affairs for one academic year.  At the end of the academic year, the documentation will be destroyed.

 

Students should be aware that their faculty advisors, the Office of Counseling Services, the Student Government Association and the Office of Student Affairs may be resource areas where students may receive assistance on a grievance or appeal. The time limit may be extended upon approval of a written request submitted to the Vice President for Student Life.

Utilizing the Student Grievance Procedure

The Student Grievance Procedure may be used by a student to address complaints concerning the alleged abridgment of the student’s rights, as stated in the Allen University Student Handbook.  The Student Grievance Procedure may be used by a student to address alleged abridgment of the student’s rights, as stated in the Allen University Student Handbook.

The Student Grievance Procedure may not be used to address allegations of discrimination, including sexual harassment. When a student believes that he/she has been discriminated against due to his/her race, creed, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information or national origin, the university’s Affirmative Action Grievance Procedure is a mechanism for resolution. The university’s Affirmative Action Grievance Procedure is contained in Allen University’s Affirmative Action Plan. The university’s Affirmative Action Officer is the university’s Executive Director of Human Resources.

 

A Grievance involves a grade dispute, a student shall process the Grievance in accordance with the Student Grievance Procedure. However, if a grade dispute raises issues of discrimination or sexual harassment, the Grievance should be processed in accordance with the university’s  Affirmative Action Grievance Procedure and the Affirmative Action Officer shall conduct the process in collaboration with the Senior Academic Officer or designee.

 

Claims of physical or sexual assault shall not proceed under the Student Grievance Procedure. A claim of physical assault alleged against a student shall be reported to the Code of Conduct Officer. A claim of physical assault alleged against an employee shall be reported to the Human Resources Office. In both cases, law enforcement authorities shall also be notified. A claim of sexual assault shall be reported to the College’s Affirmative Action Officer and/or Title IX Coordinator and law enforcement authorities and shall proceed under the University’s Affirmative Action Plan.  In matters involving physical or sexual assault, alleged victims are strongly encouraged to independently report the incident to the law enforcement authorities. The College’s Campus Police/Security Department can assist with the reporting process.

 

At any Level of the Student Grievance Procedure, either party may request mediation by contacting the Vice President of Academic Affairs or the Dean of Student.  Mediation shall be mutually agreed upon, and not unreasonably refused by either party. The university shall select an impartial mediator who shall be mutually agreed upon and not unreasonably refused by either party, make the arrangements, determine the timetable for the mediation process, and inform the parties of the timetable in writing. Where practicable, a mediation session shall be conducted no later than thirty (30) days after requested and agreed to by the parties. The purpose of mediation is to resolve the dispute to the satisfaction of both parties. If a mediated resolution cannot be achieved, the Grievant may proceed with the Grievance Process. The Grievant has the right to be accompanied by any advisor of his/her own choosing and at his/her own expense throughout the grievance process. The advisor may be an attorney. An advisor’s role is limited to personally advising the Grievant only. An advisor is not permitted to participate directly in any aspect of the grievance process.

 

Except for under extenuating circumstances, as determined by the President or his/her designee, failure by a party to comply with the Student Grievance Procedure during the course of a Grievance may result in the waiving of the non-compliant party’s rights under the Procedure.

 

Student Academic Grievance/Complaint and Appeal Process

 

Grade Appeals

Complaints or Grievances filed in connection with assigned grades represent a special case within the Grievance procedure. Grading reflects careful and deliberate assessment of a student’s performance by the instructing professional(s). As such decisions are necessarily judgmental the substance of those decisions may not be delegated to the Grievance process. Nevertheless, the university recognizes that in rare cases the process of grading may be subject to error or injustice.

A student who alleges an error or injustice in the grading process may file a Grievance under the Student Grievance Procedure. A grade appeal Grievance shall proceed no further than Level Two, Step Two. For purposes of a grade appeal, the Senior Academic Officer of the university,  or his/her designee, shall serve as the Student Grievance Officer throughout the grade appeal process.

If the faculty member who assigned the challenged grade is no longer employed by the university, or is not available within the timelines specified (see “Time” definition), the student may initiate his/her Level One complaint with the chief administrator of the appropriate instructional division (who shall be identified by the Senior Academic Officer). 

If at any level substantial evidence of error or injustice is produced, the grading process may be remanded to the instructor of record for reassessment. If after reassessment, the dispute remains unresolved, the matter shall be referred to the Senior Academic Officer, or his/her designee, for final review. If the instructor of record is no longer available, the Senior Academic Officer or his/her designee shall instead reassess the grading process.

 

Level One – Informal Procedure

This is the informal stage where most complaints are resolved.. The Grievant shall first present his/her complaint orally and informally to the Responding Party. In the case of a grade appeal, the Responding Party is the course instructor.  This shall be done in a reasonable period of time, not exceeding thirty (30) calendar days following the instructional period when a grievable act or omission occurs.

The Responding Party must respond to the Grievant’s complaint within ten (10) days. Though this phase of the process is informal, the parties may present their positions in writing. If the matter is not resolved informally within ten (10) calendar days from the date a response to the complaint was due, the Grievant may proceed to Level Two.

 

Level Two – Formal Procedure

Prior to filing a written Grievance at Level Two, a Grievant who is disputing an assigned grade must consult with the Chair of the Division in which the course is housed.  The Responding Party (faculty member) should also consult with his or her Chair.

 

Level Two – Step 1

The Chair of the Division in which the grievance for an assigned grade has taken place shall notify the parties in writing when a complaint is not resolved informally at Level One.

The Grievant may, within ten (10) calendar days after receipt of the Division Chair’s written notice, file a formal written grade appeal or complaint (see Appendix One: Grade Appeal Form, Student/Faculty Complaint Form and Student Statement Form) with the Vice President of Academic Affairs or his/her designee.

The Grievance shall contain the following information: the name and title of the person(s) against whom the Grievance is directed, a statement of all known facts, documents and materials supporting the grievance, a list of individuals who have information pertinent to the grievance, and the relief sought by the Grievant. All supporting documents, if any, shall be attached to the grievance as part of the Grievance. The Grievance shall also state the date it is filed and that it is being filed at “Level Two, Step One.”

The Grievance may be filed with the Vice President of Academic Affairs or the Dean of Students depending on the grievance by email, regular mail, certified mail, or in hand. Thereafter, the assigned official shall deliver the completed form with all supporting documents, if any, to the Responding Party within five (5) calendar days. If the Responding Party is unavailable at the time the Grievance is filed, the Vice President of Academic Affairs or Dean of Students or the designated person shall use reasonable means to deliver the Grievance within a reasonable period of time. 

The Responding Party shall forward a written Level Two – Step One response to the assigned Grievance Officer within ten (10) calendar days of his/her receipt of the Grievance. The assinged person then shall deliver the written response to the Grievant within five (5) calendar days of receipt.

Level Two – Step 2 (Supervisor Level)

If the Grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of the Grievant within ten (10) calendar days after his/her receipt of the Step One response, or if no written response is submitted, the Grievant may within ten (10) calendar days after the written response was received or due, request a hearing/meeting with the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the student, the named faculty member and the Division Chair to reach a resolution to the ascribed grievance.  .

The decision of the Vice President, or his/her designee, shall be final and binding on all parties.

Withdrawal

A student may withdraw his/her complaint or Grievance at any time. Withdrawal must be accomplished in writing or by oral agreement confirmed in writing.

Retaliation

No member of the College community shall retaliate or threaten to retaliate against, interfere with, restrain, or coerce any student in the exercise of his/her rights under the Student Grievance Procedure or his/her participation in any Grievance proceedings.

Collateral Rights of Person Grieved by Student

If the recommendations made at any level of the Grievance procedure result in sanctions against a college employee, the sanctions shall be regarded as administrative actions subject to all conditions of applicable collective bargaining agreements and College or Board of Higher Education personnel policies.

Alternative Forums

Filing a Grievance in accordance with the Student Grievance Procedure in no way abrogates a student’s right to file a complaint with an appropriate state or federal agency or in another forum.