Reinhardt University SACSCOC Compliance Certification

4.5 Student Complaints

The institution has adequate procedures for addressing written student complaints and is responsible for demonstrating that it follows those procedures when resolving student complaints. (Student complaints)

Judgment check box Compliance

 

Narrative

In support of the mission to “educate the whole person by developing the intellectual, social, personal, vocational, spiritual, and physical dimensions of its students,” Reinhardt University encourages students to express their concerns and issues regarding their experience at the University. The ability of a student to file a complaint or grievance and seek redress is a reflection of the University's values and desire to provide an environment where all students thrive.

Student Grievance Policies and Procedures

The policy for student complaints/grievances is applicable to all students, regardless of location or mode of instruction. Students who wish to file a written complaint are encouraged to submit that complaint directly to the department that manages that policy. Divisional vice presidents, as well as the President, Provost, deans, directors and academic department coordinators oftentimes directly receive complaints to their email addresses (which are posted on the University website). They either handle the complaint or refer the student or complaint to the appropriate office and/or individual for response. This process is decentralized across campus; however, the Division of Student Affairs serves as the primary division handling written non-academic student complaints and maintains the University’s grievance policy. The supporting documentation includes a flow chart that shows how grievances related to the Division of Student Affairs are handled and a table summarizing how academic and non-academic complaints are addressed across campus. [1] [2]

The Division of Student Affairs believes strongly in the ability of students to express concerns regarding their experiences at the University. Consequently, the Student Grievance Policy consolidates University policies and procedures into one location to serve students’ needs. [3] While the grievance policy is structured to resolve complaints informally and at the lowest possible level, the procedures provide a formal, written process for students to follow that guides them through the Dean of Students Office. A student who is unsure of who is responsible for handling his or her particular complaints may contact the Dean of Students Office to seek assistance in navigating appeal/complaint/grievance processes. For complaints that are not satisfactorily resolved at the department level or which seem to be broader than one department, students are encouraged to submit those complaints to the Dean of Students Office.

Grievance issues include: disciplinary action, personal records, grading, student services, residence life, parking, safety, persons with handicap conditions, sexual harassment, freedom of expression, and academic affairs. The majority of grievances and complaints have been settled by the Deans before they arise to the formal appeals process level. Reinhardt University maintains complaint and grievance policies and implements them consistently. In addition, Reinhardt University receives a variety of academic petitions, non-academic petitions, and disciplinary appeals, which are not interpreted as complaints, but as a means to appeal or seek exceptions to established and fairly administered policies.

The Office of the Dean of Students maintains a record of student grievances submitted through the online Student Grievance Form. In addition the Provost’s Office maintains a log of academic appeals. [4]

Dissemination of Policies and Procedures

University grievance policies and procedures are broadly disseminated in writing and electronically to all members of the University community. Policy changes approved after the beginning of the academic year and/or semester are updated and announced to students and other campus constituencies via email when relevant. [56]

The University uses the Student Handbook, the Academic Catalog and the Student Grievance website to disseminate information regarding policies and procedures surrounding student complaints and appeals.

Student Handbook

The Student Handbook contains information for students to help them navigate the University. The policies and procedures for addressing student complaints that are not specifically pertaining to an academic related matter are contained in the Student Handbook. The Student Grievance Policy is featured in the handbook. [3] Students are reminded of the importance of reading the Student Handbook during New Student Orientation and within the First-Year Seminar. They also receive an email at the beginning of each semester indicating how to access the Student Handbook as well as the Student Grievance Policy. [56] The Student Handbook is accessible at the following website: www.reinhardt.edu/studenthandbook. [7]

The Academic Catalogs

Policies and procedures for addressing academic complaints, especially faculty grievances, grade appeals and enrollment appeals are published in the Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Catalogs. [89] Students are informed of the importance of reading the Academic Catalog during New Student Orientation and within the First-Year Seminar. The Academic Catalogs are accessible at the following website: www.reinhardt.edu/catalog.

Student Grievance Website

The Student Grievance website is the primary means for disseminating information to students regarding complaint procedures as well as for students to submit grievances through the online grievance form. [10] General grievance procedures are set forth in the online grievance form which is easily accessible online through the "Student Services" section of the Reinhardt University website. Student Grievance information is accessible through the website: www.reinhardt.edu/grievance. [11]

The University Grievance website provides the campus community with links to the appropriate channel through which a student may appeal University actions, decisions, procedures, and practices including:

  • Disciplinary Actions/Code of Conduct Decisions
  • Personal Records
  • Grades and Academic Appeals
  • Student Services
  • Residence Life
  • Parking
  • Safety
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Persons with Handicap Conditions
  • Title IX and Sexual Harassment

The University Grievance website also provides information for reporting incidences of bias and/or hate as well as information about how to file complaints with the Georgia Non-Public Postsecondary Education Commission.

Implementation of Policies and Procedures

The following illustrate the ways Reinhardt University implements its grievance policies.

The grievance must be filed within 30 business days of the alleged incident and/or grievance. The University will determine on a case-by-case basis whether complaints filed after this deadline will be considered. The Office of Student Affairs, directed by the Dean of Students, will follow its concept of "a good faith investigation and reasonable conclusion" in seeking to resolve the matter. All parties involved with the grievance will be notified of the complaint and/or grievance, may know the source of the complaint, and will be allowed to provide pertinent information in addressing the grievance. In some instances, such as cases regarding disciplinary action, personal records, sexual harassment and discrimination, an investigation may be appropriate and conducted by the Dean of Students or his designee. A written determination as to the validity of the grievance and a description of the resolution, if any, will be issued by the Dean of Students and a copy forwarded to the student with the complaint and/or grievance. The Dean of Students will review the grievance and notify the student with the complaint and/or grievance of the resulting determination in writing within 15 business days. A possible solution may involve mediation. The right of a student to a prompt and equitable resolution of the complaint filed will not be delayed by the student's pursuit of other remedies, such as filing a complaint with the responsible state/federal department or agency.

The table below lists common types of complaints and grievances, the responsible unit for addressing them, policies and procedures employed, and redacted examples demonstrating policy and procedure implementation.

Grievance Responsible Unit Policy/Procedure Redacted Sample
Disciplinary Actions/Code of Conduct Decisions  Student Affairs Student Handbook, pp.82-101

www.reinhardt.edu/studenthandbook

 

[12]

See Examples [1314]

Personal Records  Registrar Undergraduate Academic Catalog, pp.14-15

www.reinhardt.edu/catalog  [15]

 

Graduate Academic Catalog, pp.13-14

www.reinhardt.edu/catalog  [16]

 

Student Handbook, p.65

www.reinhardt.edu/studenthandbook [17]

To date no written student complaints have been received.
Grade, Faculty and other Academic Appeals  Academic Affairs Undergraduate Academic Catalog, p.51

www.reinhardt.edu/catalog [18]

 

See Example [19]
Residence Life  Residence Life Residence Life Handbook [20]

http://www.reinhardt.edu/Current-Students/Residence/Res_Life_Handbook.html

See Example [21]
Parking  Public Safety Parking Policies [22]

http://www.reinhardt.edu/publicsafety

See Examples [232425]
Safety  Public Safety Public Safety Complaint Policy and Procedures  [26]

http://www.reinhardt.edu/publicsafety

To date no written student complaints have been received.
Freedom of Expression  Student Affairs Student Handbook, pp.59-61  [27]

www.reinhardt.edu/studenthandbook

See Example  [28]
Persons with Handicap Conditions   Academic Affairs Student Handbook, p.65 [29]

www.reinhardt.edu/studenthandbook

To date no written student complaints have been received.
Title IX and Sexual Harassment  Student Affairs Student Handbook, pp. 82-101

www.reinhardt.edu/studenthandbook

 

[12]

 See Example [30]
Enrollment Appeal  Registrar Undergraduate Academic Catalog, pp.51 [18]

www.reinhardt.edu/catalog

 See Example [31]
Financial Aid  Financial Aid Academic Catalog, p.31  [32]

www.reinhardt.edu/catalog

See Example [33]
Academic Accreditation or Violations of State Regulations Georgia Non-Public Postsecondary Education Commission https://gnpec.org/

 

To date no written student complaints have been received.

Conclusion

Through multiple venues and communication methods, including the Student Handbook, the Academic Catalogs, and the Student Grievance website, Reinhardt University provides ample opportunities for students to learn their rights and responsibilities. Reinhardt University offers students multiple entry points for initiating a written complaint and follows established procedures for addressing these quickly and with appropriate sensitivity.  The University has policies and procedures in place to address different types of grievances. These policies and procedures are clear and appropriate statements of student rights and responsibilities and enable the University to conform to sound educational principles practice and meet the needs of all undergraduate and graduate students served by the institution. In summary, Reinhardt University demonstrates and provides a portfolio of documentation to support its judgment of compliance with Federal Requirement 4.5 – Student Complaints.

 

Supporting Documents

[1] Student Grievances Flow Chart

[2] Student Written Complaint Records by Complaint Type

[3] Student Grievance Policy

[4] Academic Appeals Log

[5] Student Handbook Notification

[6] Required Notice of AOD Policy

[7] Reinhardt University Student Handbook Screenshot

[8] Undergraduate Academic Catalog Screenshot

[9] Graduate Academic Catalog Screenshot

[10] Online Grievance Form Screenshot

[11] Student Grievance Website Screenshot

[12] Code of Conduct Policies

[13] Judicial Example 1

[14] Judicial Example 2

[15] 2016-17 Undergraduate Catalog, FERPA Information

[16] 2016-17 Graduate Catalog, FERPA Information

17] Student Handbook, Release of Student Information

[18] Policies for Academic Appeals and Petitions

[19] Grievance Example – Grades

[20] Residence Life Handbook

[21] Residence Life Complaint Example

[22] Reinhardt University Parking Regulations

[23] Example of Parking Appeal Approved

[24] Example of Parking Appeal Denied

[25] Example of Parking Appeal Reduced

[26] Public Safety Complaint Policy and Procedures

[27] Freedom of Expression Policy

[28] Example of Freedom of Expression Grievance

[29] Person with Handicapping Condition Policy

[30] Example of Judicial – Expulsion

[31] Example of Enrollment Appeal Grievance

[32] Financial Aid Appeal Procedure

[33] Example of Financial Aid Grievance