A student may seek a resolution of a potential grievance through discussions with the alleged offender (hereafter known as respondent). Before following this procedure, however, students may choose to seek advice about how best to approach this individual. Students are encouraged to seek assistance from full-time personnel in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs or appropriate representative from which the complaint originates.
Any member of the University community may submit a complaint. A complaint should be submitted in writing, utilizing the “Complaint Form (pdf)” available online and in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. A complaint should be submitted as soon as possible after the event takes place.
A submitted report will be reviewed to determine merit, need for further investigation, appropriate referral, if necessary, and/or dismissal. General referrals will be guided by the following:
- Student(s) -report to- Student Affairs
- Faculty -report to- Academic Affairs
- Staff -report to - Department Head
A student may report the incident or incidents to the Vice President for Student Affairs and request assistance in attempting to reach an informal resolution of the matter. The Vice President for Student Affairs, or designee, may then contact the respondent’s immediate or general supervisor, who should attempt to resolve the grievance and will maintain the student’s confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
Submitted complaints will begin in the Informal Procedure process, unless the circumstances surrounding the reported incident(s) warrant immediately moving into Formal Procedure process. Procedure steps will be determined by the Vice President for Student Affairs, or designee, in conjunction with appropriate University personnel, as suitable.
Students are encouraged to attempt to resolve complaint directly with individuals involved. If no resolution is forthcoming, or if direct confrontation is deemed inappropriate by both parties, then the student may report the incident or incidents to the respondent’s immediate or general supervisor, department head or Vice President for Student Affairs.
Under these informal procedures, the student may, at any time, elect to withdraw the complaint which may or may not stop further administrative action. The student may also, at any time, decide to move into the Formal Grievance procedure.
Informal procedures are aimed at stopping the behavior rather than determining culpability or intent. Usually, official disciplinary action for employees or students cannot be invoked without a formal hearing. Complaints that are resolved informally are generally not investigated to the same degree as formal proceedings, although the complainant and, in some cases, the alleged respondent may be interviewed. Mediation may be utilized as a method for resolving the complaint informally. If a complainant decides to handle the situation her/himself, and the issue stops, there may not be an investigation. Unlike formal procedures, the reporting party is not required to write an account of what happened for the informal handling of the complaint to proceed. The outcome of informal procedures can range from no action, a simple apology, a promise not to do it again, a transfer of either or both parties, to a voluntary resignation.
Formal Grievance Procedures
Submitted complaints will begin in the Informal Procedure process, unless the circumstances surrounding the reported incident(s) warrant immediately moving into Formal Procedure process. The student(s) submitting a grievance may request to move into the Formal Grievance procedure at any time during an informal procedure.
Examples of circumstances that warrant immediately moving to the Formal Procedure process are allegations of discrimination, hazing, and acts of violence and abuse – sexual, physical, mental.
Assistance with these procedures may be provided by appropriate Student Affairs professional staff and/or appropriate University representatives.
It is advisable and to the student’s advantage, to file the complaint as soon as possible to insure that a complete, accurate fact pattern is captured in a timely manner and in close proximity to the time in which the incident(s) occurred.
As part of the written complaint, the student should also articulate a desired outcome or remedy to be considered in the event that discrimination is found to have occurred.
The Coordinator for Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee(s), will investigate to resolve the complaint using the “Conducting Student Investigations” guidelines. Investigations are intended to gather information and report detailed facts in connection with a reported incident. The purpose of an investigation is three-fold:
- To provide the requesting party (or parties) sufficient information to determine if the incident warrants University action;
- To determine departmental jurisdiction;
- To provide the hearing officers and/or boards that may be assigned the case with sufficient information to assess University charges.
In the event incident(s) is/are found to have occurred, the Coordinator of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or appropriate personnel, shall take disciplinary and/or additional action as deemed appropriate under University policies. Incidents involving student(s) will be addressed through the appropriate university policies and procedures. Incidents involving employee(s) will be addressed through HR policies and procedures.
If it is determined that a complaint filed under this rule was groundless (no factual basis to believe incident occurred) or in bad faith (claim was motivated by a malicious purpose), the student may be subject to student conduct disciplinary action.