Complaint & Grievance Processes | Student Handbook

Complaint & Grievance Processes

Great Plains IDEA universities are committed to resolving student concerns in a timely and effective manner. It is hoped that differences can be resolved through an informal communication process that promotes open expression in a climate of courtesy, sensitivity, and mutual respect. If a resolution is not reached, formal grievance processes are available at all participating universities.

Informal Complaint Process

When a student is concerned about the actions of an instructor in a course or other faculty decisions regarding the student’s program, the first step toward resolution is communicating directly with the instructor/faculty member as soon as possible. It is expected that the instructor/faculty member will respond promptly.

If the concern is not resolved, the student should contact the department chair at the home institution. If, as is often the case, the student first requests assistance from his or her home institution campus coordinator, advisor, or another faculty member, the student should be referred to the home institution department chair. Once that department chair has documentation that the student has tried to communicate with the instructor, that chair should contact the department chair at the teaching institution.

Hopefully, communication among all these parties will result in a mutual understanding and resolution of the concern. If a resolution is not achieved, the student has the option of the formal grievance process.

To ensure that students understand this process, the course syllabus and/or student handbook might contain a statement such as:

Solving problems and grievances: If you have a problem with this class, you should seek to resolve your complaint concerning a grade or academic practice by first discussing your concern with the course instructor. If the complaint is not resolved, then schedule an appointment or conference call with the department chairperson at your home institution. If the conflict is not resolved, you should follow the grievance process of the teaching university.

Formal Grievance Process

A grievance means a dispute concerning some aspect of academic involvement arising from an administrative or faculty decision that the student claims is unjust or is in violation of his or her rights. Grievances under this procedure include disputes over grades, course requirements, graduation or degree program requirements, termination or dismissal, and thesis and dissertation committee and/or advisor decisions.

When a student wishes to file a formal grievance, the following process will be in effect:

  • For grievances regarding grade appeals, course requirements, or other actions of an instructor of a course:
    • Students will file the grievance and follow all procedures at the teaching institution. The teaching institution will inform the Great Plains IDEA board member at the student’s home institution that a grievance has been initiated. A formal grievance should be filed in a timely manner, or a student may relinquish the right to pursue the grievance. Time limits for filing a grievance may vary by institution. If filing a faculty or course requirement grievance, the student may contact the campus coordinator at the teaching institution for assistance in locating policies and contact information at that teaching institution.
  • For grievances regarding graduation, program requirements, thesis/dissertation committee, and advisor decisions.
    • Disputes involving graduation or degree program requirements, thesis and dissertation committee, and/or advisor decisions will follow the procedures of the home institution. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with all home institution policies and procedures governing the degree program. Campus coordinators at each institution should become familiar with the policies at their institution to assist students in locating the campus grievance policy and finding contact information for the appropriate parties.