7.3. Grievances and complaints
Christendom College seeks to maintain effective and supportive relationships between students and faculty/staff members within the Graduate School. Students are encouraged to make efforts to resolve misunderstandings and conflicts with school staff or faculty members before serious problems develop. Students are encouraged where possible to seek resolution through informal means as a first-approach to resolving the issue at hand.
However, when a student believes he or she has been treated unjustly, in a way that violates his or her personal rights or is in opposition to Graduate School policies, the student may complain to the Graduate School and expect appropriate resolution. There are two avenues for registering a complaint with the Graduate School. These are the Informal Student Complaint and the Official Grievance. If normal channels of communication break down and/or a situation does not permit or lend itself (e.g. sexual harassment) to informal resolution or does not seem to be resolving itself, students are encouraged to seek recourse through the official grievance process.
Issues regarding academic grades are not handled under the grievance policy (for academic grade appeals, please see under “Grading”, §6.2.7, above). A student who wishes to appeal a grade should first appeal directly to his or her professor. If the matter is not resolved by direct appeal to the professor, the student may have recourse to the Dean of the Graduate School. Appeals to the Dean of the Graduate School should be made in writing.
7.3.1. Informal Student Complaints
Informal Student Complaints are complaints or conflicts which do not escalate, either by their nature or by the request of the student, to the level of an Official Grievance, yet are still important in the evaluation process for the Graduate School. Informal complaints should be made to the Dean of the Graduate School.
7.3.2. Official Grievances
Official Grievances are official complaints of a more serious nature permitted to be submitted by faculty, staff or students.
The procedure for an Official Grievance. Students who wish to file a grievance must begin by submitting a Student Grievance Form (available in the Student Resources section of the Graduate School website) with their attached grievance letter. Completed grievances are to be returned to the Dean of the Graduate School.
If a student wishes to file a grievance against the Graduate School Dean, the student submits the grievance to the office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs who will appoint appropriate College officials as a committee to investigate and resolve the grievance.
All grievances must be filed within ninety calendar days after the incident/event/issue causing the grievance occurred. After filing a grievance, the student is contacted within ten business days with an initial response, although, often progress will be made sooner than the ten-day time frame. During the entire grievance process every effort is made to respect confidentiality.
The Graduate School Dean, Vice President of Academic Affairs or their designee investigates the grievance and communicates with the appropriate students, staff, or faculty to address the problem, as is warranted. Resolution of the grievance occurs once the final response or outcome is determined. The student filing the grievance is notified of the action or non-action that will be taken in response to the grievance.
If the determined resolution is not perceived to be sufficient by the student, the student may appeal to the Grievance Appeal Committee, by submitting to the office of the President a letter of appeal addressed to the Grievance Appeal Committee. This committee is made up of members chosen by, but not including, the President of the College. The committee will make a decision to hear or decline the letter of appeal. In the case that the appeal committee declines the letter of appeal, the previous resolution decision remains in effect. If the Appeal Committee accepts the letter of appeal, the student will have his or her case heard and subsequently the committee will determine whether a new resolution will take place or the resolution will remain as decided by the prior College official. The decision of the Grievance Appeal Committee is final.
The above mentioned procedures are for the allowance of student grievances when a student feels he or she is personally afflicted by unjust treatment and seeks fair resolution. Complaints about College policies, simply in their nature, definition, or enforcement, are not to be addressed through this process. Rather, students should initiate contact with the Dean of the Graduate School.
7.3.3 Veteran Student Grievances
The Virginia State Approving Agency (SAA) is the approving authority of education and training programs for Virginia. This office investigates complaints of GI Bill beneficiaries. While most complaints should initially follow the school grievance policy, if the situation cannot be resolved at the school, the beneficiary should contact the SAA office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.