Student Grievance

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Western Student Grievance Procedure

When a student believes he or she has been subjected to unfair and improper action or denied his/her rights by a member of the Western community (as defined by any person employed by the district), he or she may utilize the Student Grievance Procedure to address the concerns. Students initiating a Student Grievance Procedure shall be free of any retaliation from any faculty or staff person.

In situations where the concern is related to grading, the student must utilize the Grade Appeal Procedure for resolution.

In situations where the concern is related to harassment or sexual harassment, the student should immediately contact the Title IX Coordinator/Student Life Manager, Kumm Building Room 100 or (608) 785-9880.

Grounds for a Student Grievance may include, but are not limited to: allegations of sexual harassment, allegations of intimidation or harassment, acts or threats of physical aggression, disregard of due process as it relates to arbitrary actions or imposition of sanctions, violation of student rights and responsibilities, and grievances under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or handicap by federally funded education institutions.

With the exception of allegations of sexual harassment, a reasonable effort to address the concern in an informal manner should be made prior to invoking the grievance procedure. The student and the subject of the grievance are encouraged to meet to attempt to resolve the conflict through open and cooperative communication. Only after such attempts prove unsuccessful should the Student Grievance Procedure be invoked. At any time throughout the process, both the grievant and respondent may consult with the Student Grievance Officer (SGO) at any time and may have an advocate with non-speaking participation present at any meeting. Non-speaking participation is defined as having the ability to provide advice and support directly to the person he or she is supporting, and not advocating on behalf of his or her person to the committee or any other involved parties. The Student Grievance Officer (SGO) for Western is the Dean of Students.

Throughout all levels of the Student Grievance Procedure, confidentiality will be maintained through all reasonable efforts.

Definitions:

Informal Level:

Prior to the filing of a formal written grievance, the grievant may request a meeting with the respondent and/or the respondent's direct supervisor to address the concern. The SGO should be included in the meeting to assist both parties in resolving the problem. Every effort should be made by all parties to resolve the complaint. This meeting is at the option of the grievant, and shall not be a pre-condition for submission of a formal written grievance.

Formal Level:

A formal written grievance may be filed by the grievant within thirty (30) business days of the occurrence of the alleged grievance (unless specific statue allows for longer reporting period). The written grievance should include a summary of what is being grieved, what steps the grievant has taken up to this point, and what resolution the grievant would like to see. The written grievance and any supporting documents should be delivered to the SGO (Kumm Center, Room 100) at the time of filing the grievance.

Upon receipt of written grievance, the SGO shall notify the respondent in writing within five (5) business days of the grievance complaint and the respondent's responsibility for submitting a written response to the SGO within ten (10) business days. The written response must include a confirmation or denial of each fact alleged in the student grievance, the extent to which the respondent believes the grievance has merit, and an indication of acceptance or rejection of any desired resolution or course of action indicated by the grievant. If the respondent rejects the grievant's recommended course of action or resolution, the written respondent response must include an alternate proposal for resolution of the conflict. If the respondent is unavailable at the time the grievance is filed, the SGO will make reasonable effort to deliver the grievance within a reasonable amount of time.

The SGO will contact the grievant with the response of the respondent within five (5) business days. If the grievant rejects the respondent's answer or the respondent does not reply to the grievance within the stated timeline, the grievant may request within five (5) business days to the SGO that the grievance and response to be submitted to the respondent's supervisor for review. The supervisor shall investigate the grievance and make a decision. The supervisor shall submit his or her written decision to the SGO within ten (10) business days from date of notification of grievance. The SGO will deliver the decision to the grievant and respondent within five (5) business days. At any time before the issuance of the decision, the supervisor may request the grievant, respondent, supervisor, and SGO meet to attempt to resolve the issue.

If the grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of the grievant, he or she may request within ten (10) business days to the SGO for the grievance to be heard by the Student Grievance Committee.

The Student Grievance Committee will be assembled within ten (10) business days by the SGO or his or her designee, and will be composed of a dean or associate dean from the division area of concern, or his or her designee, and two additional non-biased Western staff members. The grievant may request that one member of the Student Grievance Committee be a student representative. If either the grievant or respondent has reason to believe that any committee member may not be able to make an unbiased decision, either may request that a new committee be empanelled. The SGO will empanel the new committee in a timely manner. At least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the hearing, the SGO shall provide each member of the committee, the grievant and respondent with copies of the grievance, responses, decision issued, and all relevant supporting documentation.

In the case where the grievant does not attend the hearing, the presumption of issue resolved will be made. If the respondent does not attend, the hearing will proceed without the benefit of the respondent speaking on his or her behalf.

At the hearing before the committee, the grievant and respondent shall both have the right to present a statement on his or her behalf, call relevant supporting witnesses (relevant witness shall be defined as persons who have direct knowledge of the grievance allegations), ask questions of witnesses, and have an advocate with non-speaking participation for support. Non-speaking participation is defined as having the ability to provide advice and support directly to the person he or she is supporting, and not advocating on behalf of his or her person to the committee or any other involved parties.

Based upon the information presented, the committee will deliver its findings and recommendations within ten (10) business days to the SGO. A copy of the committee's findings and recommendations shall be delivered to the grievant and respondent within five (5) business days of receipt.

No appeal shall be permitted unless specific allegations are set forth in the appeal alleging a lack of due process or other specific error or omission. The appeal is limited to issues that were raised at the hearing. No new information or statements shall be introduced for the first time on appeal. A record of the hearing (tape recording or stenographer's notes, etc.) shall be provided by the College to the parties in the event of an appeal.

The appealing party shall file with the Office of the President a written appeal, setting forth with specificity the grounds on which the appeal is based. The written appeal shall bear the original signature of the appealing party. The appeal shall be filed with the Office of the President within ten (10) business days of the date the committee decision was personally delivered or was postmarked if served by mail. Otherwise the appeal shall not be heard and is barred.

The appeal shall be decided by the president or his or her designee no later than thirty (30) days after the appeal has been filed with the Office of the President. Within this time frame, the president or his or her designee shall issue a written decision accepting, modifying or rejecting the committee's decision.

The decision of the president, or his or her designee, shall be final unless the grievance is an allegation of discrimination and the grievant in unsatisfied with the decision of the president or his or her designee. In such circumstances only, the grievant can appeal to the Western District Board. Written intent to appeal to the District Board must be received by the Office of the President within five (5) business days of receipt of initial appeal decision.

Anyone who believes that the College has discriminated against him or her on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, age, or disability may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. Additional information can be obtained at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html.