Student Academic Non-grade Appeals

The intention of the following procedures is to maintain a safe and non-threatening environment for students, staff, and faculty at UW-L.  Ideally, the mission of a university is to be a community in which the members enhance each other’s development, and do not become obstacles to it. In actual practice, this goal is not easy to achieve, and problems occur.  The important thing is to treat problems as opportunities and learn how best to address and resolve them. As is clear in the elaboration of steps and processes in this document, problems can be solved by a) facilitating communication between individuals concerned; b) formal appeals to appropriate academic and/or administrative units; c) taking actions on the basis of thorough investigation, discussion, reflection and compassion.  In exploring options and courses of action, emphasis must be on the ethical responsibility of each to the other, as well as on the protection of due process rights and individual rights of everyone involved.

 

The Student Academic Non-grade Appeals process is designed to enable students to initiate and resolve complaints regarding faculty and instructional academic staff behavior.  Complaints may be initiated within 90 days of the most recent incident of unprofessional behavior by university faculty and instructional academic staff that impairs students' ability to learn.

Such behavior may include but is not limited to the following situations:

·  habitually not meeting classes,

·  habitually being unprepared for classes,

·  physically or verbally abusing students,

·  being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs while conducting classes or other university activities (see Staff Handbook for specific policy on alcohol use on university premises),

·  refusal to accommodate students with special needs.

Note:  if the complaint involves sexual harassment, please follow the procedures given in the Eagle Eye Student Handbook at http://www.uwlax.edu/StudentLife/shpoli.html

 

Procedures

Informal Procedures

Any student or group of students who have a complaint about faculty or instructional academic staff behavior are encouraged to resolve the complaint informally.  Informal attempts may include but are not limited to

·  meeting directly with the faculty member and/or instructional academic staff,

·  meeting with the student’s advisor,

·  meeting with other faculty members and/or instructional academic staff,

·  meeting with a departmental complaints committee,

·  meeting with the department chair,  

·  meeting with any combination of such people.

 

The intention of such meetings is to clarify misunderstandings or miscommunications that may be the source of the complaint.  If for any reason these meetings do not resolve the complaint—or if the student chooses not to resolve the complaint using the informal procedures, the student(s) may pursue the formal procedures described below.


 

 

Formal Procedures

I. Initiating a Complaint

If informal procedures are unsuccessful (or within 90 days of the last incident), a student or group of students who wish to pursue a complaint should inform the Office of Student Life, either orally or in writing.

 

The Office of Student Life shall

  1. provide a statement regarding academic freedom and pertinent sections of the "Statement to Improve Undergraduate Education";
  2. advise the student(s) about the Formal Procedures for Student Academic Non-grade Appeals;
  3. maintain current information on procedures and bodies handling complaints in all academic departments;
  4. instruct the student to initiate the complaint by meeting with the chair of the department to which the faculty or instructional academic staff member is assigned—or, if appropriate, with a departmental complaint committee.  In the case that the complaint is lodged against the department chair and there is no appropriate committee or group within the department to bring the complaint to, the instructions shall be to meet with the dean of the college in which the department chair is assigned;
  5. assist the student(s) in scheduling the meeting with the department chair or the departmental complaint committee, if one is available, or dean if the complaint is lodged against the department chair and there is no group within the department to receive the complaint; and
  6. serve as an advisor to the student(s), as necessary, throughout the complaint process, keeping a confidential, written record of interactions with the student(s).

 

II. Discovery Stage of the Complaint  

In the meeting, the chair or departmental complaint committee (or dean, in the case when the complaint is against a department chair and there is no departmental committee) shall collect information from the student(s) making the complaint and explain all the appropriate procedures and options to complainant.  If a complaint is to be pursued, the chair or committee (or dean) who has received a complaint will inform the accused party of the nature of the complaint lodged, concealing the identity of the complainant (if that is desired) and seek approaches to mediation and resolution.  Any attempt to penalize or in any way retaliate against a person bringing a complaint is prohibited and will be treated as a separate incident to be reviewed in its own right.

The goal of the discovery state is to clarify misunderstandings and miscommunications and establish what actions (if any) may be legitimate sources of complaint.  The wishes of the student(s) making the complaint shall be respected regarding further investigation.  A specific complaint shall not be carried forward without the complainant(s)’s explicit written permission and instruction.

If a complaint is resolved at the Discovery stage, no formal record will be retained in the faculty or instructional academic staff personnel file.

III. Mediation Stage of the Complaint will involve

a.     separate confidential meeting(s) of the department chair or committee (or dean, when the complaint is against a chair), with the complainant and the person against whom the complaint is filed,

  or

b.     joint confidential meeting(s) with the complainant and the person against whom the complaint is filed and the department chair or committee (or dean, when the complaint is against a chair).

The goal of the Mediation Stage is conciliation.  When these meetings are completed, the complainant will be asked to decide whether s/he is satisfied with the results or wishes to move to the Hearing stage of the complaint.

If a complaint is resolved at the Mediation stage, no formal record will be retained in the faculty or instructional academic staff personnel file.

IV. Hearing Stage of the Complaint

If the Mediation Stage does not result in a satisfactory resolution of the problem, then the complainant will be referred to the Executive Director of Human Resources who will assist the complainant in filing a complaint with the Complaints, Grievances, Appeals and Academic Freedom Committee (CGAAF Committee).  If the person lodging the allegation wishes to postpone such a confrontation, the CGAAF Committee will set a time-limit which appears reasonable, depending upon the circumstances and reasons given.  The formal hearing proceeding may be terminated by mutual agreement of the complainant and the person against whom the complaint is filed at any step.  Either party may seek the help of legal counsel at any stage of the hearing.

 

A. Complaint   

The complainant must file a written complaint using the petition form available in each dean’s office and in the Office of Student Life.  

1.  The Petition
       The petition, once completed by the complainant, shall provide

a.       the complainant's name,

b.      the respondent's name,

c.       a brief statement of the problem and a detailed list of alleged actions or behaviors that are the basis of the complaint,

d.      additional information such as statements by witnesses and other documentation that support the complainant's allegations,

e.       a summary of the outcomes of the Informal procedures (if pursued) and the Formal procedures prior to this point, and

f.        (optionally) a statement of the desired outcome(s) of the hearing.

 

2. Receipt of Petition and Duties of the Executive Director for Human Resources

The completed petition shall be submitted to the Executive Director for Human Resources.  The Executive Director for Human Resources shall review the contents of the petition with the complainant(s).  This information shall be forwarded to the chairperson of the CGAAF Committee, who is responsible for scheduling the hearing.

 

B.  Time Lines

The CGAAF Committee shall proceed with the petition using its operating rules for processing and hearing complaints.  The rules are available from the Faculty Senate Office, 323 Main Hall and at http://www.uwlax.edu/FacultySenate/committees/CGAAF/Complaints.htm