Appendix C: Grievance Procedures for Students
For both legal and policy reasons, it is desirable that HSPH students have an established and approved mechanism by which serious grievances may be resolved promptly and equitably. The following procedures should be used by students for the resolution of grievances alleging unfair action on the part of the university administration or faculty, including discrimination on the basis of race, color, religious belief, political beliefs, sex (including sexual harassment), national or ethnic origin, handicap, age or sexual orientation. This policy will also apply to students with disabilities who are not in agreement with the provision of accommodations by the school.
A student considering lodging a grievance against another student or other individual who is not a member of the university administration or faculty, and which does not involve behavior covered under the school’s disciplinary procedures, should discuss the matter with one of the following people: his/her advisor, department chair, the associate dean for student services, affirmative action officer, Longwood Campus ombudsperson, or other appropriate faculty member or administrator. If the grievance cannot be resolved informally, the student may ask the associate dean for student services to arrange for mediation of the dispute or to conduct some other process appropriate to the particular circumstance; the process may or may not include elements of the formal grievance procedure described below.
A student with a grievance against a member of the faculty or administration should initially take the matter to one of the following people: his/her advisor, department chair, associate dean for student services, director of student affairs, affirmative action officer, Longwood Campus ombudsperson, or other appropriate faculty member or administrator. Grievances concerning accommodations for disabled students should generally be taken to the director of student affairs. If the grievance cannot be resolved satisfactorily between the student and the initial faculty/administration contact, the student may, at his/her discretion, seek resolution via the formal procedure outlined below. The person investigating the grievance shall, at the request of the student, make a written report available to the ad hoc grievance committee in the event that a resolution is not possible in the informal phase.
An aggrieved student may request resolution of the grievance by initiating the following formal procedure.
1) A formal grievance is a complaint in writing from the student to the associate dean for student services, asking that an ad hoc grievance committee be appointed. (In the event that the complaint is against the associate dean for student services, the written complaint goes directly to the dean of the school.) The written complaint should be filed within two months of the event to which it refers and should include the following, as appropriate:
a. Statement of the allegation
b. Description of the alleged facts
c. Summary of steps he/she already has taken in attempt to resolve the problem
d. Name/s of the person/s thought to be responsible for the alleged events
e. Other facts considered to be pertinent to the case
f. Signature of the person initiating the complaint
2) The associate dean for student services appoints an ad hoc grievance committee consisting of a representative of the Faculty Council, at least one member of the school’s administration, and a student, chosen in consultation with the Student Government, who has completed at least one semester at the school. This ad hoc grievance committee is appointed and convened within ten working days of receipt by the associate dean for student services of the written complaint, or sooner if immediate action is required. In all cases, confidentiality is maintained during the selection and appointment process. A quorum requires that all members be present. The associate dean for student services appoints the chairperson of the committee.
3) The ad hoc grievance committee investigates the grievance. This investigation includes, but need not be limited to:
a. Meeting/s with the person aggrieved and the person/s (or representatives of the department) grieved against.
b. Consultation with such others as the ad hoc grievance committee deems necessary to provide a thorough investigation of the grievance, including scientific ramifications or concerns, and other mitigating or extenuating circumstances that bear upon the situation.
4) The ad hoc grievance committee expeditiously considers the facts of the case and presents a report to the dean of the school or, in the case of a grievance involving a disability, to the university’s 504 disability coordinator. The report includes findings of facts and recommendations, if any. Every precaution is taken to ensure the confidentiality of information obtained at meetings of the ad hoc grievance committee. The committee also makes every effort to conclude the investigation promptly and to take any needed remedial action.
5) Upon receipt of the report from the ad hoc grievance committee, the dean of the school, or the university’s 504 disability coordinator may exercise the following options:
a. Take whatever action he or she feels is warranted, using the report of the ad hoc grievance committee as advisory information.
b. Return the matter to the ad hoc grievance committee for further consideration. This action returns the grievance to Step 3 of this procedure.
6) The final action of the dean of the school or of the university’s 504 disability coordinator constitutes the formal completion of the grievance procedure. The ad hoc grievance committee is then discharged. The final action is communicated to both the person aggrieved and the person/s (or department) grieved against. Once the procedure is completed, all records of the meetings of the ad hoc grievance committee and the final report of the committee remain in the possession of the associate dean for student services and are treated with appropriate confidentiality.
7) Any request for exceptions to the foregoing should be addressed to the associate dean for student services. By mutual agreement of the associate dean for student services and the student, the stated formal procedure may be waived in favor of a procedure more appropriate to a particular circumstance.