Student Complaint and Grievance Procedures

Complaint and Grievance Flow Chart

Grievance Petition Form

Grievance Committee Appeal Form

It is hoped that minor differences can be resolved without recourse to the process listed below.  However, there may be situations where a more formal process may be necessary. This process is intended to settle disputes through mediation and reasoned discussion. It is not intended to supplant the student conduct process, the administrative rules of the University or any provisions of the collective bargaining agreement between the faculty or staff member and the University or any other appeal/grievance already existing within a department. Usually the resolution of a complaint or grievance involves resolution of the problem/issue; not punishment of those involved. Students who intend to file a complaint or an academic or nonacademic grievance must follow the instructions below.

Procedures for Complaints or Grievances Not Discussed Below

More formal alternative procedures exist for situations such as when a student is erroneously denied registration, is erroneously required to pay a fine or penalty, erroneously has money withheld by the university, has been denied the right to amend his/her educational records, is charged with an offense under the student code of conduct, is alleging discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disabling condition or marital status, or is alleging sexual harassment. For more formal procedures relating to such situations, consult the Affirmative Action Plan, Sexual Harassment Policy, Consensual Relationships Policy, Student Code of Conduct, Contested Case Procedures, or contact the Academic Standards Committee, the Affirmative Action Officer, or the Office of Student Relations.

 Definitions

A) Informal Complaint: An informal complaint is defined as an academic or non-academic issue that a student has with a faculty/instructor, staff member, administrator, or department or program of the University.

B) Non-Academic Grievance: A non-academic grievance occurs when a grievance petition form has been filed because a student believes that he/she has been dealt with arbitrarily, unfairly or in ways which violate established laws, rules, policies or procedures, or past practices by the

University as a whole or any unit or agency or function thereof and in a manner that has caused actual harm to the student.

C) Academic Grievance: An academic grievance occurs when a grievance petition form is submitted because a student believes he/she has been harmed by being treated arbitrarily or unfairly within the context of the course. In order to file an academic grievance, the student must demonstrate actual harm. It does not involve perceived rude treatment, classroom style or general grading policies. For example, the student may not like a particular professor’s classroom style or grading practices as a whole, but this does not constitute grounds for a grievance. The student may, however, use the informal complaint process to talk with an administrator about the perception of inappropriate behavior. The assignment of course grades are at the heart of the faculty member’s responsibility. Only the responsible faculty member can judge students’ performance in a particular course. Thus, only the responsible faculty member can assign or recommend changes of letter grades (A, B, C, D, F) for his or her courses.

D) Complainant/Grievant: A complainant/grievant is an individual who believes his/her rights have been violated.

E) Respondent: A respondent is an individual who is the subject of the grievance or complaint, if applicable. 

F) Appellant: An individual who is filing an appeal.

G) Appeal: The resolution of an academic or non-academic grievance may be appealed. Appeals must be based on the issue of substantive or procedural errors which are prejudicial to impartial consideration of the case.

H) Confidentiality: It is understood that committee members, faculty, staff, and administrators involved in the discussion of complaints or grievances will maintain professional standards of confidentiality. Students should be aware that every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality; however, university officials may be obligated to disclose information to law enforcement or other agencies as required by law.

Informal Complaints

A) Resolving a Non-Academic Informal Complaint

The student must first discuss and attempt to resolve the issue with whomever the issue arose, if at all possible. Please note, this requirement does not apply in cases of alleged sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination.  In those cases, the student should contact the Affirmative Action Officer for guidance.  In the event that such an informal discussion is not possible or the issue is not resolved, then the student should contact the associate dean, college dean, director, or appropriate administrator, or designee to try to reach an informal resolution. The student must initiate a complaint no later than thirty (30) work days after the alleged incident. The student may be aided by the Office of Student Relations in following procedures correctly. The associate dean, college dean, director, or appropriate administrator or designee receiving the complaint shall attempt to resolve the matter and report the decision, in writing, to the complainant(s) and respondent(s) via their EOU email address within fifteen (15) work days of receiving the complaint. If the complaint is about a grade, please see the Resolving an Academic Informal Complaint section of this policy.

B) Resolving an Academic Informal Complaint

Given the nature of complaints covered by this procedure, it is expected that in all but the most unusual circumstances, students will first address the issue with the faculty/instructor. In the event this is not feasible, or the student and faculty/instructor have not resolved the issue, the student will contact the associate dean or program director within ninety (90) work days after the alleged issue. In instances where there is no associate dean or program director, the student should contact the college dean. The associate dean or program director receiving the complaint shall attempt to resolve the matter and report the decision, in writing, to the complainant(s) and respondent(s) via their EOU email addresses within fifteen (15) work days of receiving the complaint.

Grievance

A) Initiating a Grievance

If the complaint is not resolved informally and the student wishes to continue the process, the student must present a completed grievance petition form to the appropriate director or administrator of the unit in which the alleged violation of rights occurred.

Prior to any grievance action, the complainant(s) must attempt to obtain a satisfactory resolution through the Informal Complaint process. A grievance petition must be filed no later than thirty (30) work days after the notice of informal complaint resolution decision, or if no decision was issued, no later than thirty (30) work days after the applicable decision deadline.

B) A Grievance Petition

A Grievance Petition must be in writing and contain:

  1. The grievant(s)’s name, student identification number (if applicable), and contact information, including email address
  2. The name(s) of the respondent(s)
  3. A detailed description of the nature of the grievance and the actual harm suffered by the student
  4. A detailed description of attempts at informal resolution
  5. A detailed description of the relief sought
  6. Signature of complainant(s)
  7. Date of grievance submission

C) Non-Academic Grievances

If the complaint is not resolved informally, the student may submit a completed grievance petition form to the appropriate director, administrator, or designee. A non-academic grievance must meet the definition in order to be reviewed and/or heard and not be covered by any other university policy, procedure, or administrative rule (i.e., student code of conduct).

The director, administrator, or designee receiving the written grievance shall attempt to resolve the matter and is required to report the decision, in writing, to the complainant(s) and respondent(s) via their EOU email addresses within fifteen (15) work days of receiving the grievance petition.

If the grievant(s) wishes to appeal the grievance decision, the student must submit an appeal to the University Grievance Committee along with the director’s, administrator’s, or designee’s written response to previous resolution attempts within ten (10) work days of receiving the decision, or if no decision was issued, no later than ten (10) work days after the applicable decision deadline.

D) Academic Grievances

If the complaint is not resolved informally, the student may submit a completed grievance petition form to the college dean. The college dean, or designee, shall investigate the grievance.

The college dean then has fifteen (15) work days to make a determination and report the decision, in writing, to the complainant(s) and respondent(s) via their EOU email addresses. The college dean has the discretion to accept a grievance filed after the thirty (30) day deadline.

In instances where the college dean is the subject of the complaint, or has decided the student’s informal complaint, the student should submit the completed grievance petition form to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs for resolution. The Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs then has fifteen (15) work days to make a determination and report the decision, in writing, to the complainant(s) and respondent(s) via their EOU email addresses.

If the grievant(s) wishes to appeal the grievance decision, the student must submit an appeal to the University Grievance Committee along with the college dean’s, or designee’s, written response to previous resolution attempts no later than ten (10) work days of receiving the decision, or if no decision was issued, no later than ten (10) work days after the applicable decision deadline.

Appeal

A) Initiating an Appeal

A student may submit an appeal to the University Grievance Committee within ten (10) work days of the notification of the grievance decision, or if no decision was issued, no later than ten (10) work days after the applicable decision deadline . The specific grounds to be addressed are:

a)    Were the procedures of the policy followed?

b)   If a procedural error occurred, were the rights of the grievant violated to the extent that a fair review was not conducted?

c)    Was the review conducted in a way that did not permit the grievant adequate notice and opportunity to present facts?

d)   Was the information presented during the review sufficient to justify the decision reached?

e)    Was there relevant information existing at the time of the review that was not discovered until after the review that is sufficient to alter a decision?

B) The Appeal Form

An appeal must be in writing and contain:

  1. The appellant(s)’s name, student identification number, and contact information, including email address
  2. A detailed description of the nature of the appeal
  3. A copy of the findings of the complaint review/hearing and supporting documents
  4. The specific grounds supporting the appeal.  This must be one of the criteria listed in Section IV (A), above.
  5. A detailed description of the relief sought
  6. Signature of appellant(s)
  7. Date of grievance submission

C) The Appeal Process

To file an appeal, the student must submit a completed appeal form to the University Grievance Committee chair. The appeal will be reviewed within fifteen (15) work days of receipt. The

Committee will notify the complainant(s), respondent(s) and appropriate college, dean, director, administrator, or designee of the University Grievance Committee’s decision, in writing via their EOU email addresses, within ten (10) work days of their decision.

In the event of an appeal, no less than five (5) members of the committee must be present to hear the case. In the event of a split vote the appeal is denied.

Except as the University Grievance Committee determines necessary to explain the basis of new information, an appeal is limited to a review of underlying decision, the file supporting the decision as provided by the decision-maker, and any statement supporting the appeal submitted by the appellant:

a)    To determine if the grievance procedures policy and investigation was conducted fairly in light of the complaint and grievance made and information presented and giving the appellant(s) a reasonable opportunity to present information. A deviation from procedures required by this policy will not be a basis for sustaining an appeal unless significant prejudice of impartial consideration of the case results;

b)   To determine whether the decision reached regarding the matter was based on substantial information, that is, whether there were facts that, if believed by the college dean or university administrator, were sufficient to support the grievance decision;

c)    To consider new information sufficient to alter a decision or other relevant facts not brought out in the original complaint or grievance, but only if such information or facts were not known to the grievant at the time of presenting the grievance.

If the University Grievance Committee overrules a decision in whole or in part, it may:

a) Modify the decision; or

b) Remand for further proceeding.

No appeal shall be allowed unless the appellant cites specifically to the grievance record and states with specificity the grounds under which the appeal shall be allowed. Any appeal submitted that does not include the required information will be dismissed without review.

The University Grievance Committee shall be responsible for reviewing substantive or procedural appeals from the decision(s) of a college dean or university administrator.

Decisions of the University Grievance Committee are final.  There is no further appeal within the Student Grievance procedures policy.

Initiating a Graduation Requirement(s), Academic Probation, or Academic Suspension Grievance

The University’s Academic Standards Committee should be contacted for any appeals of decisions regarding graduation requirements, academic probation, or academic suspension. The Academic Standards Committee has regular procedures for grievances of such decisions.

In the event that students are dissatisfied with the decision of the Academic Standards Committee, the student may file an appeal to the University Grievance Committee.