The purpose of this procedure is to resolve differences which may arise concerning a disagreement between a student and an instructor over instructional incidents. These concerns may relate to a contested grade, an observed violation of the Academic Code of Conduct, harassment, instructional design or delivery, intellectual bias, matters of free speech, etc. The procedure provides for a solution to a situation which can be discomforting and can impede the instructional process. This procedure permits a student to gain rectification of a human error, elimination of a demonstrated bias, or clarification of an intellectual viewpoint. The procedure encourages an informal solution but allows for due process through a formal complaint.
Northwest College designs its complaint process to resolve complaints through internal administrative channels. If anytime during the complaint the student and instructor convene (either together or separately) for a discussion, neither party will be accompanied by an attorney.
In the case of sexual harassment, the student should obtain a copy of the sexual harassment policy available in the Student Services Office and follow those procedures.
The informal complaint procedure is a verbal process which the student must start within 10 working days of the alleged incident or disagreement. The student should meet initially with the Dean of Student Learning and Academic Support. During this initial meeting, the student is responsible for explaining why he/she believes an incident has occurred, detailing the problem, and presenting supporting materials (corrected papers, examinations, projects, etc.), if appropriate. The Dean of Student Learning and Academic Support will serve as the student’s advocate throughout the complaint process, notifying the student of his/her rights and guiding the student through the complaint process.
Any student who believes that an instructional incident has occurred should discuss the point with the instructor directly during office hours. This face-to-face contact between the affected parties is Northwest College’s preferred method of dealing with complaints. The student is welcome to bring an advocate to the meeting (e.g., a fellow student). The instructor is responsible for considering the complaint presented by the student and for striving to resolve the difficulty. The student has the obligation of listening to and considering the instructor’s viewpoint.
In the event a student is uncomfortable interacting with an instructor, he/she may pursue the informal complaint with the appropriate Division Chair. The Division Chair may meet privately with the student and subsequently with the instructor, or the Chair may schedule and attend a joint meeting with both. The aim of the Division Chair’s involvement is to facilitate informal resolution of the problem.
If the student has a complaint specifically about the conduct of a division chair, the student is encouraged to discuss the point with the Division Chair during office hours or other agreed upon time. In the event a student is uncomfortable interacting with the Division Chair, the Dean of Student Learning and Academic Support will refer the student to another Division Chair.
The informal process ends with either the instructor or the Division Chair notifying the student of the problem’s resolution. The Vice President for Academic Affairs will not hear an informal complaint about an instructional disagreement or incident unless the complaint is against the Division Chair. The informal process can resolve most misunderstandings and problems. If the outcome of Step One dissatisfies the student, then he/she proceeds to Step Two.
If the student cannot resolve a complaint or problem concerning an instructional incident using the informal complaint process described in Step One, the student may file a formal complaint.
The formal complaint begins with the student filing a written statement with the instructor within five working days after the failure to resolve the complaint informally (the day the instructor or Division Chair notified the student of his/her resolution). The written statement must contain
The instructor will have five working days to respond to the formal complaint in writing. If the student is satisfied with the result, then the process is done. If not, he/she proceeds to Step Three.
If the student is not satisfied with the written decision of the instructor at Step Two, he/she may file an appeal within five working days to the instructor’s Division Chair. The student submits the following in Step Three:
In reviewing the complaint, the Division Chair may request a written statement from the instructor or anyone else involved. These individuals will have five working days to submit this and any other written information they wish to be considered. The division chair will provide a written decision within five working days following receipt of all pertinent information (including face-to-face interviews if necessary) but no longer than 15 working days following the receipt of the complaint. The Division Chair will send copies of his/her written decision to the student and the instructor.
If the student and instructor are satisfied with the result, then the process is done. If not, then either party may proceed to Step Four.
If the written decision at Step Three dissatisfies the student or the instructor, then either party may file an appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs within five working days. The complainant must submit the following in Step Four:
In reviewing the complaint, the Vice President for Academic Affairs may request all materials gathered by the Division Chair and may conduct face-to-face interviews with any or all parties involved with the complaint. The Vice President must receive any requested statements within five working days. The Vice President may use additional time if necessary to gather and review pertinent information; unless otherwise notified of the reason in writing, the student or the instructor may expect to receive a written decision from the Vice President within 10 working days following the receipt of all pertinent information. The Vice President sends copies of his/her written decision to the student, the instructor, and the Division Chair.
For the instructor, the matter ends with the written decision of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. If the student is not satisfied with the written decision of the Vice President, then he/she has the right to appeal the decision through a hearing before the Student Appeals Board. See “Student Appeals Board Process and Procedures”.