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4.5 Students Complaints PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 September 2008 11:02

4.5 - Student Complaints

The institution has adequate procedures for addressing written student complaints and is responsible for demonstrating that it follows those procedures when resolving student complaints.

Responsible Unit: Division of Student Affairs

Compliance Judgment

Partial Compliance


North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) has written policies in the Undergraduate Bulletin to cover most of the general types of student complaints, or appeals, such as academic dishonesty appeals [1], academic dismissal appeals [2], financial aid appeals [3], grade appeals [4], and make up of required course work [5]. Similar policies are outlined in the Graduate Catalog [6]. In addition, the Student Handbook [7] has well-defined written procedures for allegations of misconduct that cover the filing of charges, rights of the accused, and hearings [8].

The university follows the North Carolina General Statutes for minimum substantive and procedural standards handling complaints on specific crimes, such as sexual assault [9].

The Division of Student Affairs is developing written policies to explain the process for lodging written complaints. The academic departments have an understood practice in referring student complaints from faculty to department chair and, if necessary, to the deans for final resolution. The provost concurs with this practice.

If the Division of Student Affairs is the first point of contact for a student with a general complaint, the student is advised to resolve the issue at an informal level by discussing the concern with the other party identified as causing or contributing to the grievance (another student, volunteer, faculty member, and/or administrator), or their supervisor. If the student is unable to resolve the concern at the informal level, he/she may file a formal written complaint with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs [10] using a recently created complaint form [11]. The assistant vice chancellor for student affairs/auxiliary & enrollment services will handle the complaint formally on behalf of the university. Students may also use established email bulletin boards to initiate a complaint or seek assistance to any questions and/or concerns.

The Aggie Daily Planner, distributed to all students during Welcome Week, contains the Student Code of Conduct [12], the Aggie Pride Compact [13], the University Judicial Policies and Procedures [8], Policy Statement on the use of University Facilities and Property, other University Policies and Guidelines [14], and excerpts from the General Statutes of North Carolina on Crimes [9]. This document also contains information on a variety of other topics, including discipline, decision appeals, sexual assault, academic programs, student affairs services, residence hall behavior, financial aid, police and parking, to assist the first-year student in making a smooth transition into the higher education setting.

The planner ensures that all new students have readily at hand the university policies and procedures. Other websites through the Division of Student Affairs, the Division of Human Resources, and the Division of Academic Affairs include information about equal educational opportunity and access, as well as privacy rights. Pages within these sites address the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) [15], the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and affirmative action [16], the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [17][18], sexual harassment and discrimination [16], and gender equity through Title IX [19]. Separate information related to FERPA can be found and has an online form for reporting alleged violations of students' FERPA rights. Additionally, information related to the FERPA regulations is contained on various Web sites [20][21] and is also mailed/emailed to all students each academic semester. The university has also established a FERPA Compliance Subcommittee that reviews student complaints regarding alleged FERPA violations, and information regarding the committee.

The Undergraduate Bulletin and Graduate Catalog are valuable references available to all students (initial and continuing) in the Office of the Registrar and Office of Graduate Studies, as well as online [3] [4]][6]. The bulletin and catalog outline the rules, regulations, and statutory requirements of the university, and the academic appeals process. Various offices and programs also provide online handbooks for students to help address problems before they arise; among these offices are the deans' offices of the schools and colleges [22][23][24].

As part of a new university-wide initiative established in the fall of 2007 by the chancellor, A&T has made customer service its primary priority. All student concerns are paramount no matter the office or issue. Each division has been tasked with providing professional development for its staff to properly handle the new generation of undergraduate students, whether that is through the Division of Human Resources on-site continuing education or off-site training workshops.

The chancellor and the provost post their email addresses on their websites and in the staff directory, thus permitting students to initiate a complaint or concern directly through them. Though such communications do not guarantee a sit-down meeting with either individual, each is routed through the proper channel. The vast majority of such concerns are re-directed through the Division of Student Affairs, which has historically handled the bulk of student issues and complaints. As a result, A&T has found that most of the presented issues can be, or are, resolved before a higher level of administrative intervention is required.

An example of a student's complaint and resolution is included [25]. Other cases are on file in the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and Office of the Dean of Students.

Supporting Documents

[1] Undergraduate Bulletin, Academic Dishonesty Appeals, p. 61

[2] Undergraduate Bulletin, Academic Dismissal Appeals, p. 56

[3] Undergraduate Bulletin, Financial Aid Appeals, pp. 44-45

[4] Undergraduate Bulletin, Grade Appeal pp. 56-57

[5] Undergraduate Bulletin, Make Up of Required Courses, pp. 58-59

[6] Graduate Catalog, Graduate Policies and Appeals, p.22-27

[7] Student Handbook

[8] Student Handbook, University Judicial Policies and Procedures, p.52-60

[9] Student Handbook, General Statue on Specific Crimes, p.61-70

[10] Policies, Formal Written Student Complaint Process

[11] Policies, Formal Written Student Complaint Form

[12] Student Handbook, Student Code of Conduct, p.46-52

[13] Aggie Pride Compact

[14] Student Handbook, Policy Statement on use of Facilities, p.71

[15] Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

[16] Policies, Human Resources, Sexual Harrassment

[17] Office of Veteran and Disability Services Website

[18] Office of Veteran Disability Services, FAQ

[19] Policy, Nondiscrimination and Integration Statement

[20] Sebastian Health Center, FERPA, Website

[21] Office of Registrar, FERPA website

[22] Grade Appeal Procedure, University Studies

[23] Grade Appeal Procedure, Graduate Studies, School of Edcuation, p.8

[24] Grievance Procedure, Family and Consumer Sciences, p.14

[25] Student Complaint Summary

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Last Updated ( Friday, 22 January 2010 14:53 )

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