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Grievance Policy

Azusa Pacific University provides a means by which students may file a grievance for academic and student life issues. The process described below should be used after all informal means have been exhausted. In the area of academics, protocol requires that student concerns or grievances about course content and relevancy, grading, teaching style, and the like, be taken up first with the professor of the given class. Failure to resolve the matter at that point may require a meeting with the appropriate department chair, or finally, the dean of the school or college.

In the event that the informal procedures fail to resolve the problem, the student will indicate in writing the nature of the grievance, the evidence upon which it is based, and the redress sought, and submit the document(s) to the Office of the Vice Provost for undergraduate programs for academic matters or the Office of the Dean of Student for non-academic matters. Guidelines for this document are listed in section II, B, i-vii. At that time, a Grievance Committee will be formed and proceed according to the guidelines stated below.

Committee Guidelines and Meeting Format

I. Organization

A. Membership:

For academic grievances:
Vice Provost for undergraduate programs or other individual designated by the vice provost
Academic Dean (not from school or college involved)
One faculty member
One upper-division student
Associate dean of students or designee

For non-academic grievances:
Associate dean of students or designee
Two faculty members
Two students
Vice provost or other individual designated by the provost

B. Chair: For academic grievances, the vice provost or designee shall preside.

For non-academic grievances, the associate dean of students or designee shall preside.
C. Voting: All members have equal vote and there shall be no alternates or substitutes unless one member must disqualify him/herself due to conflict of interest.
D. Meeting Time: The meeting will be scheduled within seven working days following the filing of a written petition.

II. Guidelines

  1. Except for grade appeals, the formal grievance procedures shall be initiated only after other attempts to resolve the matter have been exhausted (i.e. conferring with individual instructor, department chair, or staff member as appropriate). The student has no more than 10 working days after meeting with the individual they believe has given them cause for grievance or 15 working days after the incident that occasioned the grievance in which to file his/her written petition.
  2. The grievance process is initiated by submission of a written petition to the chair of the Grievance Committee. The petition must include:
    1. Names of the parties involved
    2. A clear statement of the nature of the grievance
    3. A narrative of the incident including
      1. what occurred
      2. when it occurred
      3. where it occurred
      4. who was present
    4. The evidence on which the grievance is based
    5. Why this constitutes capricious or arbitrary action on behalf of a staff or faculty member
    6. What has been done to resolve the grievance
    7. The desired outcome(s)
    8. Any supporting documentation
  3. The chair of the Grievance Committee will submit a copy of the grievance to each person who will serve on the Grievance Committee for this incident, as well as to the faculty or staff members involved and the dean of the school or college involved.
  4. A meeting of the Grievance Committee will be scheduled to consider the matter within seven working days of the date on which the petition was filed.
  5. Meetings of the Grievance Committee shall be attended only by the parties named in the grievance, members of the Grievance Committee, witnesses invited by the Grievance Committee and the dean of the school or college involved. No one other than members of the Grievance Committee may be present during deliberations.
  6. The student may not bring legal counsel, nor have a student represent him/her as counsel. The Grievance Committee may not have legal counsel present.
  7. No printed materials or notes may be taken from the meeting (other than the official minutes described in section III, E).
  8. Except for communications with the applicable dean and academic chair after the conclusion of the Grievance Committee proceedings and communications with the faculty member(s) and student(s) involved advising them of the Grievance Committee's final decision, the parties and committee members may not discuss the case outside the meeting.
  9. If a committee member is approached prior to a meeting by a student whose case is to be heard, the member should refuse to discuss the issue and should disclose, at the time of the meeting, that he/she was been approached.
  10. Any committee member who has a potential conflict of interest, or who holds a bias or preconceived notion as to the facts of the case and has formed an opinion about them, or who may hold ill will toward a particular student, must disclose to the chair the nature of such feelings, bias, or potential conflict. He or she may be excused from participation upon request by such member, or in the discretion of the chair, and replaced by the chair with a substitute committee member of comparable station to the extent possible under the circumstances.

III. Committee Process

  1. The grievance procedure shall act as a vehicle for communication and decision-making between students, staff, and faculty, and provide, through prescribed procedures, a process through which a student-initiated grievance can be resolved internally.
  2. As noted in II, A above, the student should attempt to resolve his/her grievance informally with the faculty member involved and, if necessary, the appropriate department chair and dean before commencing the formal process. The formal procedure must be initiated within the time limits set forth above; however, the time limit may be extended by the associate dean of students or associate provost, in their sole discretion, upon showing a good cause.
  3. Justifiable cause for grievance shall be defined as any act which, in the opinion of the student, adversely affects the student and is perceived as prejudicial or capricious action on the part of any university faculty or staff member of an arbitrary or unfair imposition of sanctions.
  4. The grievance process is initiated by submission of a grievance petition in writing to the associate dean of students in nonacademic matters, or vice provost for undergraduate programs in academic matters. The petition must contain the names of the parties involved, narrative about the incident, and the remedies requested. The associate dean or vice provost will submit a copy of the grievance to each member of the grievance committee prior to the hearing. Thereupon, the committee will be activated and a meeting will be held to consider the matter.
  5. The involved student and faculty or community member may be present at the committee meetings, except during deliberation. The meetings shall be held at times when both parties are available to testify. If there is an academic grievance, either party may seek an advisor who must be a faculty member or student in that school or college. The function of the advisor shall not include that of advocacy and the advisor will not have a role in the committee's meetings. Accurate minutes of the grievance procedure shall be written and kept in a confidential file of the committee's proceedings.
  6. In cases of conflicting information and/or when additional information is desired, the committees may request testimony from additional witnesses having information pertinent to the grievance.
  7. The committee will decide on the matter by vote. Both parties will be notified, in writing, within one week of the decision. The committee's decision shall be final.

Petitions

A petitioning process exists for students desiring consideration of an exception to stated university policies, procedures, and regulations. The petition process is initiated by submission of a petition in writing to the associate vice president for Student Life in nonacademic matters, or associate provost in academic matters. After a decision has been reached, the student will be notified in writing by the appropriate office.