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VIII - Grievance Procedures for Students

In this Section

Preamble | Definition | Procedures
Standing Review Committee (SRC) | Restrictions
Discrimination Grievance Procedures | Complaints Regarding Sexual Misconduct | Table of Contents


VIII-A PREAMBLE

The objective of these grievance procedures is to provide students with a fair and expeditious way to resolve a claimed grievance. This objective is pursued through the use of both informal communication and, if necessary, the formal grievance process.

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VIII-B DEFINITION

A grievance exists when there is a claimed violation, misinterpretation or inequitable application of existing rules, procedures or regulations, or when there is a claimed failure to apply these rules, procedures or regulations.

These grievance procedures do not apply to matters that are subject to review by other designated University personnel or hearing bodies (including without limitation sanctions for violations of the Code of Student Conduct, the Code of Ethics, or Athletics Department policies, codes, rules or regulations).

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VIII-C PROCEDURES

  1. Any student with a grievance should promptly consult with the person by whom he or she feels aggrieved in an effort to resolve the grievance. Every effort should be made to solve the problem informally. A student may also choose to pursue mediation with the person by whom he or she feels aggrieved. If a grievance relates specifically to accommodative services (protocol, policy or procedures), students should consult the Office of Accommodative Services (http://www.clarkson.edu/oas/rights_responsibilities.html#GrieveTop). The University Mediation Service can assist in determining whether both parties are willing to participate, and if so, will assign a mediator. The mediation will be handled in confidence.
  2. In the event that informal consultations or mediation have not resolved the grievance, the student bringing the complaint may present the grievance, in writing, to the next appropriate administrative level. e.g., if the complaint is directed against a faculty member, then the grievant should address the faculty member's department chair; if the problem is with a member of the administrative staff, then the grievance should be submitted to the staff member's immediate supervisor. This written statement of the grievance should be submitted within ten school days from the date informal consultations ended. The administrator receiving this grievance should review the matter, decide upon what actions, if any, are appropriate, and should inform the grievant and the party or parties against whom the grievance was filed of this decision in writing. The administrator's written response to the grievant should be sent within ten work/school days of receipt of the grievance.
  3. If, after following the procedures in VllI-C-1 and 2, the student still believes the grievance exists, he or she may petition the Standing Review Committee (SRC) for a formal hearing. This petition must be submitted within ten work/school days of receipt of the written, administrative response described in VIll-C-2. Within eight school/work days of receipt of the grievant's petition for a hearing, the chair of the SRC should inform the grievant of the date set for the formal hearing. The date of the formal hearing should be as early as practicable, but should not be more than ten school/work days subsequent to the notification sent to the grievant regarding the date set for the formal hearing.
  4. While the calendar deadlines detailed in these procedures are designed to ensure the timely review of a grievance, they should not be imposed too rigidly: instead, they should be interpreted so as to accommodate the academic calendar of the student submitting the grievance (e.g., the pressures of final exam week, the presence of summer break, etc.).

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VIII-D STANDING REVIEW COMMITTEE (SRC)

  1. Composition
    1. The SRC shall consist of six members selected in the spring to serve for the following academic year. Members may be selected for no more than three successive terms. The membership shall be:
      • two undergraduate students selected by the Student Senate from full-time students in good standing who will be juniors or seniors during their term and who are not members of the Student Senate;
      • one graduate student nominated by the Dean of the Graduate School/Provost from full-time graduate students in good standing;
      • two faculty members selected by the Faculty Senate from full-time faculty who are not members of the Faculty Senate;
      • one member selected by the Administrative Council.
      Corresponding alternates shall be selected at the same time and in the same manner. At least two alternates shall be selected for each member appointed to the SRC. The body originally designating members of the SRC shall fill permanent or temporary vacancies as they occur for both regular and alternate positions.
    2. No SRC member shall sit in review of a case in which he or she has previously been involved.
    3. A quorum for the SRC shall consist of five members. Decisions of the SRC shall be by a majority of those present and voting.
    4. Members of the SRC shall elect a chair from their membership. The chair shall vote only in case of a tie.
    5. The student filing the grievance petition has the privilege of excusing up to three members of the SRC. Those so excused will be replaced for the duration of the hearing in question by one of their previously-designated alternates. Assignment of the replacement alternate will be on a rotational basis.
  2. Hearing Procedures
    1. At least five days in advance of the formal hearing, the chair of the SRC shall provide all parties involved with:
      • a copy of the student's grievance petition,
      • a copy of the administrator's written response to the grievance [see VIII-C-2, above],
      • a statement of the specific time and place for the formal hearing,
      • a list of anticipated witnesses and a description of available evidence, and
      • a copy of these grievance procedures.
    2. In the course of the hearing, the grievant has the right to be assisted by an advisor of his or her choice drawn from the University community. This advisor may be a fellow student, a Clarkson faculty member, or a member of the University staff.
    3. Both the grievant and the individual alleged to have violated University regulations or procedures have the right to testify before the SRC. Likewise, both parties have the right to present relevant documentary evidence as well as to call and examine pertinent witnesses. However, the technical rules of evidence employed in legal proceedings do not apply to SRC hearings.
    4. A stenographic or audio recording of the formal hearing shall be made.
    5. The decision of the SRC shall be based solely on the evidence presented and testimony heard at the formal hearing. The decision shall be determined by majority vote. The SRC shall promptly communicate its decision and any attendant recommendations to all interested parties for appropriate action. The student-grievant will be provided a written statement of the SRC's decision.
    6. A copy of all documents presented at the formal hearing, as well as the hearing transcript and the SRC's written decision, will be maintained for at least one year in a confidential file in the Office of the Vice President for University Outreach and Student Affairs.

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VIII-E RESTRICTIONS

If a student suspects that he/she has been discriminated against because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age or handicap, the student should register this complaint with the Office of Affirmative Action. In such cases, the Discrimination Grievance Procedures described elsewhere are the appropriate means of seeking redress; as such, they supplant the present Grievance Procedures for Students.

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VIII-F DISCRIMINATION GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

  1. Purpose
    To systematically and appropriately examine complaints by students, faculty and staff (University Community) who contend that discrimination has occurred on the basis of race, gender, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran or marital status and to recommend to the President corrective measures if the evidence so indicates. The University's antidiscrimination policy is in Section IX-S of the Clarkson Regulations.
    Procedures for Informal Intervention
    When any member of the University Community feels unfairly treated because of race, gender, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual preference, veteran or marital status that person has a right to seek to correct the perceived offense. The following informal procedures are available:
    1. Persons having complaints often find it helpful to have someone with whom to discuss the issue prior to pursuing any further action. There are many persons available for such consultation: the Director of Campus Safety, Dean of Students, Director of Student Development, Vice President for University Outreach and Student Affairs, Director of Human Resources, and the International Students Advisor are available to assist in such instances. These staff members can help in clarifying issues, making referrals, and advising about appropriate channels and procedures. However in all instances each of the above persons must report the matter to the Affirmative Action Officer.
    2. When situations cannot be resolved on the basis of direct discussion among the parties the next step is for the complainant to report the matter to the offending party's immediate supervisor or to the Vice President for University Outreach and Student Affairs. The supervisor or Vice President for University Outreach and Student Affairs should investigate and take appropriate action to resolve the conflict and report back to the complainant within ten (10) days (work/class). The supervisor and Vice President for University Outreach and Student Affairs must report the matter to the Affirmative Action Officer.
    3. Alternatively, the complainant may request that the Affirmative Action Officer discuss the allegations informally with both the complainant and accused in an attempt to end the alleged discrimination or harassment and resolve the issue; or the complainant may request mediation. If mediation is requested, within ten (10) days (work/class) a third party mediator (from the campus panel of trained mediators and coordinated by the Affirmative Action Officer) shall be named to help resolve a complaint on an informal basis. Such mediation activities shall continue for a period of no more than thirty (30) days (work/class) or until resolution is achieved, whichever is shorter. This period may be extended if the participants and the mediator agree it would be useful to do so.
    4. In the event one or more of the above informal procedures is pursued and it is unsuccessful the complainant may initiate the formal grievance process described below. Alternatively, a complainant may bypass these informal procedures and may start by initiating the formal grievance process. While that choice is the complainant's, careful consideration should be given to first utilizing one or more informal processes since these often prove very successful in resolving conflicts.
  2. Procedure for Formal Hearings

    Step 1: Filing of a Formal Written Complaint
    An individual (student or employee) who chooses to file a formal written complaint under these procedures must do so with the Affirmative Action Officer. Such a complaint may be filed immediately after an alleged act of discrimination has taken place or after any efforts that may have been undertaken to reach an informal settlement have proven unsuccessful.

    A complainant will have 90 days following the alleged discrimination or harassment to file a formal written complaint unless he or she has good reason (as determined by the Affirmative Action Officer) for having this period extended. Good reason may include active pursuit of the informal procedures outlined above.

    A formal complaint must be filed on a standard form obtained from the Department of Human Resources and it must be filled out in full, detailing specific charges (including the specific acts forming the basis thereof). Where a pattern of discrimination is alleged to exist, the complainant shall provide incidents to support the charge. The charges shall be signed by the charging party and presented in sufficient detail to set forth clearly the charges which must be defended. Written notice (form) must be filed with the Affirmative Action Officer. If the charges are insufficiently explicit, it will be returned for clarification, thus delaying the process. The complainant may also indicate any remedy desired.

    Step 2: Investigation
    Once a written complaint is filed, the initial investigation (which can include notifying and providing the respondent with a copy of the complaint) and determination with respect to that complaint shall be made by the Affirmative Action Officer or his/her designee. Upon review of that complaint, the Officer or designee may either dismiss the complaint (either on its merits, because it does not properly fall within the scope of this procedure, or for timeliness) or may recommend appropriate remedial action be taken by the University. The Officer will conduct an investigation and make a determination within twenty (20) days (work/class) of the filing of a written complaint. This time period may be extended by the Officer at his/her discretion when circumstances warrant.

    In the event either the complainant or the accused is not satisfied with the Officer or designee's recommendation, she or he may pursue their grievance before a Review Panel by notifying the Officer or designee of her or his desire to do so in writing within five (5) work/class days of the Officer/designee's recommendation.

    Step 3: Review Panel
    Upon receipt of a timely notice to pursue a grievance, within five (5) work/class days the Officer or designee shall ask the President to convene a Review Panel to conduct a formal review. The review panel that conducts the review will be selected from the 25 member Grievance Committee.

    Within five (5) work/class days of receiving a written request, the President/designee, on the recommendation of the Chair of the Grievance Committee, will name five members from the committee to constitute the Review Panel. The panel will consist of one faculty member, one student (or one other panel member), one administrator, and one member drawn from the complainant's and the respondent's respective constituencies (faculty, student, support, plant, supervisory). The Chair of the Grievance Committee will designate one member to serve as presiding officer. Within five (5) work/class days after the panel is appointed, each party will have the right to object to the appointment of any panel member on the grounds that the member's participation would jeopardize the party's right to a fair review. The panel members not challenged will decide upon the merits of a challenge within five (5) work/class days, and their decision will not be subject to appeal. When a challenge is granted/approved, the President/designee, on recommendation of the Chair of the Grievance Committee, will appoint a replacement from the same category as the original member. Replacements are not subject to challenge.

    The Review Panel:
    1. shall meet within ten (10) working days after being appointed;
    2. once convened, shall act as a body and will not act as representatives or as advocates for either party. The function of the panel is to review the evidence, make findings of fact, and determine what corrective action, if any, should be taken to resolve the problem;
    3. will have the discretion to determine the most appropriate methods for considering the case: examination of written evidence, the hearing of oral testimony (which will be private and open only to the parties involved) or further investigation of relevant evidence;
    4. the panel will have fifteen (15) working days after convening to render recommendations.

    Tape recordings of evidentiary proceedings will be taken and retained for two years in the Office of Affirmative Action.

    Step 4: Final Disposition
    Within five (5) working days after the panel makes its findings and recommendations, the chair of the review panel will report the findings and recommendations directly to the President/designee with copies to the respondent, the complainant, and the Affirmative Action Officer. The respondent and complainant will have five (5) days after receiving the report to submit to the President a written response to the panel's report. This response is limited to five (5) typed pages.

    Within fifteen (15) work/class days after receiving the Review Panel's finding and recommendations, the President/designee may accept, reject, or modify the recommendations of the Review Panel, or may remand the complaint for further consideration or clarification. Upon recommendation from the Review Panel, the President/designee will send a written decision, an explanation of the decision, and determination of any penalty and relief, including dates by which each is to be implemented, to the complainant, the respondent, the Review Panel, and the Affirmative Action Officer. The President/designee will notify the appropriate VP of the decision and recommendation subject to the normal procedures for probation, demotion, suspension, or dismissal. Within five (5) days, the Vice President in turn will notify the President/designee of action taken.

    Any retaliatory action of any kind taken by a member of the Clarkson University community against the complainant or any other party as a result of efforts to secure redress under this procedure, or to cooperate in an inquiry, or to participate in any activity governed by this procedure, is prohibited and shall be regarded as a separate and distinct grievance.

    If, however, at the conclusion of its proceedings, the Review Panel determines that a complainant, respondent, or witness has knowingly given false or misleading information, the University may take appropriate action against that person.

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VIII-G COMPLAINTS REGARDING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT

Students raising complaints of sexual misconduct - including sexual harassment or sexual assault - should refer to Clarkson Regulations IX-N.

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