Grievance Policy and Procedures

The following procedures should be used by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health students for the prompt and equitable resolution of grievances alleging unfair action on the part of the University administration or faculty, including but not limited to:

  • Discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex (with the exception of grievances related to sexual and gender-based harassment or other sexual misconduct, the procedures which are covered by the interim Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and the Other Sexual Misconduct Policy both of which can be found here: https://titleix.harvard.edu/policies-procedures), gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age, ancestry, veteran status, disability unrelated to job requirements, genetic information, military service, or any other legally protected basis.

These procedures also may be used by students with disabilities who are not in agreement with the provision of accommodations by the School.

  • Academic retaliation: Using an academic assessment or other academic action as a means to retaliate against a student for engaging in conduct protected by University policy or the HGSU-UAW bargaining agreement is unacceptable and prohibited. Examples of prohibited academic retaliation include basing a grade, academic credit, authorship, or other academic judgment, or failing to provide opportunities for academic advancement, on a student’s opposition to discrimination and/or good faith participation in a complaint or grievance process.

There may be other University policies, outside of the Interim Other Sexual Misconduct Policy, that also provide protection from retaliation. Students may elect to follow the process in those other policies, as appropriate, instead of the process set forth here. That choice is final, and there will not be duplicative reviews of the same complaint.

Grievances Against Students or Others who are Not Members of the University Administration
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: their adviser, program director/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.

Informal Resolution of Grievances (not involving allegations of sexual harassment, including gender-based harassment, or other sexual misconduct)
A student with a grievance against a member of the faculty or administration should initially take the matter to one of the following people: their academic adviser, program director/department chair, associate dean for student services, director for student affairs, affirmative action officer, Longwood Campus ombudsperson, or other appropriate faculty member or administrator. Grievances concerning accommodations for disabled students generally should be taken to the director for student affairs. If the grievance cannot be resolved satisfactorily between the student and the initial faculty/administration contact, the student may, at their discretion, seek resolution via the formal procedure outlined below.

Formal Grievance Procedure (not involving allegations of sexual or gender-based harassment or other sexual misconduct)
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 should go directly to the dean of the School.) The written complaint should be filed within two months of the alleged incident (s) and should include the following as appropriate:
    1. Statement of the allegation
    2. Description of the alleged facts
    3. Summary of steps the student already has taken in attempt to resolve the problem
    4. Name/s of the person/s thought to be responsible for the alleged events
    5. Other facts considered to be pertinent to the case
    6. Signature of the person initiating the complaint

2. The associate dean for student services then will appoint 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 who has completed at least one term at the School, chosen in consultation with the Harvard Chan Student Association. This ad hoc grievance committee shall be appointed and convened within 10 working days of receipt of the written complaint by the associate dean for student services or sooner if immediate action is required. In all cases, confidentiality shall be maintained during the selection and appointment process. A quorum requires that all members be present. The associate dean for student services will appoint the chairperson of the committee.

3. The ad hoc grievance committee shall investigate the grievance. This investigation shall include but need not be limited to:

  1. Meeting/s with the person aggrieved and the person/s (or representatives of the department or program) grieved against.
  2. Consultation with such others as the ad hoc grievance committee deems necessary to provide a thorough investigation of the grievance, including other mitigating or extenuating circumstances that bear upon the situation.For example, in the case of an allegation of academic retaliation involving a graded assignment or other assessment, the ad hoc grievance committee could identify a faculty member with subject matter expertise, and no involvement in the matter at issue, to review the student’s work product or the action and advise as to whether the action was reasonable.

4. The ad hoc grievance committee shall expeditiously consider the facts of the case and present 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 shall include findings of facts and recommendations, if any. Reasonable precautions shall be taken to ensure the confidentiality of information obtained at meetings of the ad hoc grievance committee. The committee also shall work diligently 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:

      1. Take whatever action they feel is warranted, using the report of the ad hoc grievance committee as advisory information
      2. 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 or program) against whom the formal complaint was filed. Once the procedure is completed, all records of the meetings of the ad hoc grievance committee and the final report of the committee shall remain in the possession of the associate dean for student services and will be 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.