St. Cloud State University Policies & Procedures

Student Complaint Concerning Faculty Link☍

Create PDF: Student Complaint Concerning Faculty

Current Status: Approved

Policy Type: Academic

Department/Division: Academic Affairs

Effective Date: 09/15/2016

Last Updated: 03/01/2019

Applies To: Students, Faculty, Staff

Responsible University Officer: Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Policy Owner: Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Policy Contact: Dean's Offices

Rationale

St Cloud State University (SCSU) is committed to a respectful learning environment in which all members of the campus community may seek to resolve disputes and disagreements in a fair and equitable manner.

Policy

Students will have the ability to seek resolution to complaints or concerns about faculty or coaches through the procedures associated with this policy without retaliation.

This policy is established to specifically address student complaints about faculty who have provided instruction or advising and to assure fair treatment of all involved parties. This policy may not be used to address the following:

  • General complaints about a faculty member unrelated to instruction or advising
  • Grade appeals
  • Complaints about non-faculty staff members
  • Complaints involving unlawful discrimination/harassment (including sexual discrimination harassment/violence)
  • University Student Code of Conduct violations
  • Complaints about an academic program
  • SCSU parking complaints or violations

(See Related Policies and Supporting URLs sections for additional information).

Procedure

For the purposes of this policy and procedure, a student is defined as an individual or a group (See Definitions section).

Complaints and Appeals

Annually, each dean/faculty supervisor or designee will send out a call for nominations and establish a Student Complaint Review Pool. This pool will be comprised of both faculty and students. Because students serving on this committee will access protected data they would not otherwise access, they shall complete a confidentiality form agreeing to keep data private. Members may be called upon during the year to serve on the Student Complaint Review Committee when official complaints are filed. Following is the complaint process:

  1. When a student (or group of students) has a complaint, the student(s) shall contact either the chair of the department offering the course or a Student Relations Director (SRD)/or the faculty member’s supervisor (who will assign a designee) to be informed of the process and obtain the Student Complaint Procedure Timeline. The Athletic Director supervises coaches and will assign the designee for complaints against coaches. If the complaint is against the chair, the student should contact the SRD/designee. If unclear about who to contact students may ask the Dean or College office or the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs office.
  2. Students are encouraged to communicate directly, in person or via university email, with the faculty member in an attempt to resolve a complaint. The chair or supervisor’s designee may assist in this communication to the faculty member.
  3. When a student (or group of students) has a complaint which remains unresolved (preferably after consultation with the faculty member) the student(s) may file a Student Complaint Concerning Faculty Form (the complaint form) with the appropriate department chairperson or supervisor’s designee no later than thirty (30) calendar days after the first day of classes of the next full term. To file as a group, the students must have a common complaint. Students filing as a group may file one form, but all students must be identified and include their specific complaint(s). All forms for this procedure can be found in the Supporting Documents section. Within three (3) duty days of receipt of the complaint form, the chair or supervisor’s designee will provide the faculty member and the dean or supervisor with the complaint form. The dean or supervisor will then form the Student Complaint Review Committee by selecting members from the Student Complaint Review Pool within six (6) business days of receipt of the notification and shall provide the committee chair with the complaint form. The student(s) and faculty may provide additional documentation to the committee chair once contacted about meeting with the committee.
  4. When a complaint is referred to a Student Complaint Review Committee, the Committee shall meet with the student(s) first and subsequently with the faculty member separately within fifteen (15) duty days. The student(s) may bring a consultant to all meetings. This person may provide support and advise the student but cannot speak or present for the student. (See Assisting Students with University Policy and Procedure in the Related SCSU Policies section for a description of this role and resources for connecting with consultant options.) Following the review process, the Committee must submit a written report to the dean/faculty member’s supervisor within five (5) duty days. The report should include suggestions for non-disciplinary resolution of the immediate complaint that drew majority support and the ideas voiced by other members of the Committee if offered. All Committee members shall sign the report. Upon receipt of the Student Complaint Committee Report Form, the dean/supervisor will evaluate the report and may meet with the student(s) and faculty member separately to assist in forming a decision.  The dean/supervisor will issue a written determination within ten (10) business days. The student(s) and the faculty member will be provided with separate determination letters.
  5. The student(s) may appeal to the Provost/Provost’s designee within ten (10) business days of receipt of the determination letter if one or more of the criteria on the Student Complaint Concerning Faculty Appeal Form are met. The Provost/Provost’s designee may seek additional information and respond in writing within ten (10) business days of receipt of the appeal form.

At the end of this process, all records should be forwarded to the Dean's office and will be subject to the the record retention schedule. 

Expedited Complaints and Appeals

It is expected that the student complaint process will be continuous throughout the academic year. This is especially necessary for students on suspension and for students waiting to progress in their programs. However, due to the nature of the course (i.e. an 8 week course), scheduling issues, the contractual availability of faculty (i.e. during summer or academic calendar breaks), or other unique situations there may be times when the student could be harmed by a prolonged complaint and/or appeal process.

In the event that a complaint is unable to be processed in the normal manner, the dean or supervisor may appoint an ad-hoc committee of on-duty faculty or chairs and a student to resolve the issue rather than selecting members from the annually established pool. The dean or supervisor will consult with the Provost or Provost’s designee to determine shortened deadlines for an expedited process and will communicate those new deadlines with the chair of the ad-hoc committee.

During expedited student complaints concerning faculty, the student(s) and faculty shall be given every reasonable opportunity (including the use of electronic means of communication) to participate in the process. If deemed necessary by the Provost/Provost’s designee, an extra duty day can be paid to faculty serving on an ad-hoc Student Complaint Review Committee.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

For questions about this Policy and Procedure, such as who is the Chair of the College/School Student Review Committee or who serves in the Student Complaint Review Pool, contact the school or college Office Administrative Assistant, or Student Relations Director for the College or School that offers the course. Some faculty, such as coaches, are not part of a school or college. When the complaint is about faculty such as these, students should contact the supervising department.

Question: Will a student be protected from retaliation for filing a complaint?

Answer: The Policy specifically states that students will have the ability to seek resolution of complaints or concerns through the procedures associated with this policy without retaliation. Members of the review pool, chairs, deans and supervisors will be familiar with the need to protect students from reprisal and to ensure a fair process. A student or witness who believes there has been retaliation should report it to the dean or supervisor. This becomes a new complaint that is investigated separately from the original concern. If a student believes that the retaliation also includes discrimination based on protected class (e.g. race, gender, age, marital status, etc.), then the report should be made to the university Equity & Access Officer.

Question: If a student files a report of retaliation, what information about the results or consequences can be shared with the student following the investigation?

Answer: Personnel data defined in Minn. Stat. 13.43 is not public and cannot be shared. Very limited data can only be released upon full completion of any investigation or grievance procedure. For more information, contact the St. Cloud State University Data Practices Compliance Official.

Question: Will review committees be formed with diversity in mind?

Answer: Deans and supervisors will develop pools and review committees from the various departments within their college or school. They are encouraged to select diverse members whenever possible.

Question: Will review committees be formed to include faculty who serve in temporary or probationary positions?

Answer: It will be encouraged, when possible, to appoint tenured faculty to the review committee pool and committees.

Question: What will the review committee do? 

Answer: The review committee will meet with the student and faculty member and determine the facts. The student and faculty may describe the facts differently, and the committee will process these different perspectives. The committee will then propose possible resolutions for the student to the dean.  

Question: What actions will the review committee recommend?

Answer: This policy and procedure have been established to resolve a complaint or concern that has been raised by a student or students about a faculty member delivering instruction or academic advising (not student organization advising). The objective is to resolve those concerns within the context of the relationship between students and faculty. The committee should determine the facts of the situation and suggest options for resolution for the student whenever possible. Suggested resolutions will vary depending on the situation, but will not involve discipline for the faculty member.

Question: Can the Student Complaint Concerning Faculty process lead to discipline for a faculty member?

Answer: This process is intended to lead to a satisfactory resolution between the student and faculty member whenever possible. Discipline of faculty is not an outcome of this process and only occurs via contractual processes which are separate from this procedure. 

Question: Can a student file an anonymous complaint?

Answer: This process is designed to reach a resolution between a student and a faculty member within the context of a course. Since that would not be possible to accomplish without knowing the identity of the student an anonymous complaint cannot be processed through this Policy and Procedure.

Question: Why is the faculty member given the student's complaint form?

Answer: To facilitate resolution a faculty member must have meaningful information about the issue from the student’s perspective. The committee needs complete information to try to formulate suggestions. For the process to be respected and successful it must be fair to all parties.

Question: Can a student(s) include a letter of support from another faculty member with the complaint documentation?

Answer:  When the student submits data in support of the student’s concern it must be relevant to the facts that the student is describing. If there is another faculty member who has direct knowledge of the situation it would be appropriate to include that documentation. If the purpose of the documentation is to provide moral support or a character reference for one of the parties to the complaint it is not relevant and should not be submitted or considered.

Question: Can a student file a complaint after the deadline -- 30 calendar days after the first day of classes of the next full term?

Answer: This Policy and Procedure are designed to reach resolution between a student and a faculty member within the context of a course. Once the course has ended and a grade is entered a grade appeal would be available but this process would not.

Question: Can a student file a grade appeal and also use this process to complain about a faculty member who assigned the contested grade?

Answer: The two processes are separate. In this situation, the student should use the Grade Appeal procedure. There is an appeal option built into the Grade Appeal Policy and Procedure to address those concerns.

Question: Can a student file a discrimination complaint and also use this process to complain about a faculty member about the same actions or circumstances?

Answer: No, allegations of discrimination based on protected class status (i.e. race, religion, age, gender, etc.) must be filed with the Institutional Equity and Opportunity Office. They must be addressed through the Minnesota State Board of Trustees Policy 1B.1, not through this Policy on Student Complaint Concerning Faculty. 

Question: Can a student who has been charged with an academic integrity violation use this process to complain about a faculty member? 

Answer: The two processes are separate. In this situation, the student should use the Academic Integrity procedure. There is an appeal option built into the Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure to address those concerns. This policy should not be used by the student to retaliate against a faculty member that has filed an Academic Integrity claim.

Question: Can a student use this process to complain about a faculty member’s actions as the sponsor of a student organization that is not related to any credit bearing course for the student?

Answer: No, this policy and procedure exist to address complaints raised by faculty providing instruction. Complaints about the advisers of student organizations should be directed to the Vice President for Student Life and Development.

Question: Will there be an expedited process for students with unusual circumstances—such as international students or those nearing graduation or those who need an issue to be resolved to decide whether to continue in a program?

Answer: Unlike matters being processed through the Grade Appeal Policy and Procedure it is less likely that a student will be harmed by waiting for resolution during an academic calendar break. If such circumstances do exist, the procedure permits a student to ask the dean or supervisor for an expedited process to avoid harm to the student

Question: When a faculty member teaches in more than one department which department chair or supervisor’s designee does the student turn to in order to initiate this process?

Answer: Occasionally faculty teach in more than one department, even though each faculty member can only be listed on the roster of one department. The Student Complaint Concerning Faculty process provides a means to review complaints about instruction and therefore it is the home of the instructional course that determines whom a student should contact. In other words, if a faculty member is rostered in Department A, but teaches a course in Department B, the complaint would go to the chair or student relations director of Department B. If a student is unsure who to contact, they should consult with chairs, student relations directors, supervisors or deans to understand where to file their complaint in these circumstances.

Question: What records will be maintained related to this process and how will they be maintained?

Answer: SCSU has an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement, which is also an expectation of its regional and other program accreditors. As a result, records will be maintained about complaint resolutions and changes made in light of information learned. There is no need for the summary of changes or outcomes to identify the student or faculty member. As the policy and procedure are implemented there may be paper records but it is our goal to create a digital means of managing this process and its records. In the interim paper records submitted to the Chair or dean/supervisor’s designee will be sent to the Dean/supervisor’s office for retention. Electronic records should also be forwarded to the Dean/supervisor’s office and securely deleted from the Chair's records.

Keywords

complaint process, complaint procedure, faculty conduct, issue with faculty, disagreement with faculty, dispute with faculty, hold faculty accountable, complain, issue, professor behavior, instructor behavior, dispute, complaint about, misconduct, 

Supporting Documents (Forms, Instructions)

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Related St. Cloud State University Policies

Supporting URLs

Websites, Related External Documents, Statutes

Definitions

Appeal

A request for reconsideration of a decision made at St. Cloud State University pursuant to university, or Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees policies and procedures.

Business Day

A day when St. Cloud State University offices are open for business.

Calendar Day

All days of the month, including weekends and public or posted holidays.

Complaint

An oral or written claim concerning a college or university issue, including but not limited to alleging improper, unfair, or arbitrary treatment or program quality, compliance with accreditation standards, consumer fraud or deceptive trade practices.

Duty Day

A day included in the academic calendar or individual faculty member's appointment on which a faculty member engages in duties as described in their collective bargaining agreement.

Employee

Any individual employed by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, its colleges and universities and the system office, including but not limited to all faculty, staff, administrators, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, residence directors and student employees.

Retaliation

Any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment against an individual because he or she made a complaint, assisted, or participated in an investigation or process. Retaliation also occurs when one associated with a person or group of persons is intimidated, harassed, or suffers reprisal. Retaliation may occur whether or not there is a power of authority differential between the individuals involved.

Student

All Persons or group of persons who:

  1. Are enrolled in one or more courses, either credit or non-credit, through a college or university; or
  2. Withdraw, transfer, or graduate after an alleged violation of the code of student conduct; or
  3. Are not officially enrolled for a particular term but who have a continuing relationship with the college or university; or
  4. Have been notified of their acceptance for admission or have initiated the process of application for admission or financial aid; or
  5. Are not college or university employees and are not enrolled in the institution but live in a college or university owned or controlled residence hall.

Student Complaint Review Committee

A panel that will address each individual complaint.  Each Committee will consist of two (2) faculty and one (1) student representative from the Student Complaint Review Pool.  The dean or supervisor will determine the participants of each Student Complaint Review Committee and designate one faculty member to serve as chair of the committee.  Members of the academic department or sport team from which the complaint originated cannot serve on the Student Complaint Committee.

Student Complaint Review Pool

A body appointed annually by the dean or supervisor, no later than 15 duty days from the start of the academic year, whose members will review student complaints.  The Student Complaint Review Pool shall be comprised of one (1) faculty representative of each department within a college or school and five (5) student representatives.  For departments outside of colleges and schools, two faculty members will be appointed. 

Contacts

Responsible University Officer
   Gregory, Daniel D.
   Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs
 
ddgregory@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-3143
Owner
   Gregory, Daniel D.
   Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs
 
ddgregory@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-3143
Contact
   Schwartzkopf, Lucie B.
   Dean's Offices
 
lbschwartzko@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-3143

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