Student Grievance & Policy Procedure
General Discrimination Grievance
Students who believe they have been subjected to any form of unlawful discrimination may file a discrimination grievance. A discrimination grievance is a formal complaint made by a student in response to an alleged action of the university or any of its faculty members, administrators, staff, or students. Unlawful discrimination includes harassment based on an individual’s membership in any legally protected category such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin or citizenship, creed, religion, gender or gender expression and identity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or any other protected status.
The university is committed to conducting a fair and impartial investigation of all such grievances, with due regard for the rights of all parties. Retaliation against any person who has made a complaint of discrimination, or who has cooperated in the investigation of such a complaint, is illegal and a violation of University of the West policy.
Any student with a complaint of this kind shall make a reasonable effort to resolve the matter on an informal basis before initiating a formal grievance. An administrative staff member will assist the student in seeking resolution by informal means. If the informal process does not lead to a resolution that is satisfactory to the grievant, the student may request a formal grievance hearing.
The process outlined in this section applies to all complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment, except (1) those alleging any form of sexual misconduct, and (2) those brought by students on the basis of disability. Any person alleging sexual misconduct on the part of any UWest faculty or staff member, affiliate (e.g., visitor, vendor, etc.), or non-affiliate should refer to the university’s Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Policy and the Procedures for the Resolution of Sexual Misconduct Complaints Against Faculty, Staff, Affiliates, and Non-Affiliates. Any person alleging sexual misconduct on the part of a UWest student should refer to IV. “Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Policy.” Students who wish to file a complaint alleging discrimination based on disability should file with the Disabilities Services Officer (Student Success Center), in accordance with the procedures set forth in V.2. “Disability Discrimination Grievance.
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Step 1 – Informal Action
Before a formal grievance may be filed, an informal resolution must be attempted. The process should be initiated as soon as possible after the grievable incident but generally within ten business days of it. If the problem is not resolved through direct conversation, an informal discussion may take place with the person at the lowest level of authority directly above the person(s) at whom the complaint is directed.
The Office of Student Life (OSL) shall attempt to resolve the grievance through informal meetings and discussions among the pertinent parties while remaining impartial on all issues involved. This informal process will attempt to involve the levels of administration concerned with the problem and should be completed within ten business days of the grievant’s initial report to OSL. If the grievant still believes the issue has not been resolved satisfactorily, she or he may submit a Student Grievance form to OSL within 20 business days of initiating the informal process. Forms are available from OSL.
A student may submit a grievance after graduation if the grievance occurred prior to graduation but became known only after graduation. However, the grievance must conform to this policy and must be submitted no more than 30 business days after the grievant should have reasonably become aware of the act or condition on which the complaint is based.
Step 2 – Formal Action
Upon receiving the Student Grievance form, OSL shall call a meeting of the Student Grievance Hearing Committee. The committee roster will usually include the following:
- Chair (non-voting member): Student Life Coordinator
- Executive Secretary (non-voting member)
- One administrative designee appointed by the Dean of Student Affairs
- Faculty Senate officer or designee
- Faculty member appointed by the Chief Academic Officer
- UWSG Student Issues Officer or designee
- Student representative appointed by UWSG Executive Council
- HR Manager or designee in cases involving student complaints against employees of the university
At the discretion of the Dean of Student Affairs or the University President, the initial roster may be amended for expedience but shall be sufficient to ensure a fair and equitable hearing.
The Hearing Committee shall meet within ten business days of receipt of the Student Grievance form.
Within five business days prior to the hearing date, the Hearing Committee Chair will provide the parties with notice of the hearing date and copies of the written complaint, the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and the Student Grievance Policy.At least four voting members, including at least one student member, must be in attendance for the hearing to proceed. The committee chair and executive secretary must attend all meetings.The hearing shall be closed to the public. Each party shall have the right to present personal statements, testimony, evidence, and witness statements, and may be accompanied by one non-legal person of choice. No party may be represented by legal counsel.The Hearing Committee shall discuss the charge, hear the testimony, examine the witnesses, and receive all available evidence to the charge. The Hearing Committee shall deliberate in private, and will attempt to reach a decision by discussion and consensus. If consensus is not reached, a decision will go to vote. A formal report and decision will be submitted to all parties and the Dean of Student Affairs within 20 business days following the conclusion of all investigation and hearing meetings. The Hearing Committee’s decision shall be final except as outlined under Step 3 Appeal Process.
If in the course of the proceedings, a student graduates before a solution is found, the student shall not be denied full consideration under this policy.
If the grievant does not respond to a request for information within the time specified or does not attend the hearing without prior notification, the grievance will be dismissed, and no further action will be taken.
A confidential record of the proceedings shall be maintained in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs for a period of seven years.
Step 3 – Appeal Process
Each party to the grievance may appeal the Hearing Committee decision if one or more of the following conditions apply:
New evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing has become available and is potentially sufficient to alter a decision.
It can be demonstrated that there was a substantive procedural error that may have prohibited the hearing from being conducted fairly in light of the charges. Deviations from designated procedures will not be a basis for sustaining an appeal unless significant prejudice results.
The sanctions are not appropriate to the severity of the infraction.
The appeal must be submitted to the Dean of Student Affairs within ten business days of receipt of the Hearing Committee’s decision. If the Dean of Student Affairs served as hearing chair or is party to the grievance, the appeal body or person will be appointed by the President.
The Dean of Student Affairs (appeal review person/body) will review the appeal and notify the Hearing Committee if the original decision is upheld or overturned. The Hearing Committee will have five business days to reconsider the decision and submit a revision if so indicated. The dean (appeal review person/body) will review the resubmission and render a final decision to all parties within ten business days of the receipt of the appeal.