The Student Grievance Procedure is designed to provide students due process when they believe college policy has been compromised. Grieveable issues must be related to the interpretation or application of college policy. Personal opinions, matters of taste or preference, and circumstances covered by external rules, laws, or guidelines are not typically grieveable under the Student Grievance Procedure.
A grievance is defined as a written claim raised by a student alleging improper, unfair, arbitrary, or discriminatory action by an employee or a student involving the application of a specific provision of a college rule/regulation or a board policy/procedure. This policy does not cover issues of sexual harassment or misconduct, which should be referred to the Title IX Coordinator, Dyan Effler Lester, at 276-964-7677, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or reported online via the Southwest TIPS Line.
Students are encouraged to maintain open, direct contact with faculty, counselors, and others who work with them in achieving educational goals. Concerns or questions are best resolved by direct, positive contact with the individual(s) concerned. A Student Grievance Form, Student Grievance Form (sw.edu), is required for each grievance and will need to be submitted to the appropriate party as detailed below.
The steps to be followed in the grievance process are as follows:
- The student is encouraged to discuss his or her concerns directly with the other party within ten (10) business days of the precipitating event.
- If the student remains dissatisfied with the results of the discussion, the student may initiate a formal grievance by using the Student Grievance Form to document the issue. The student should submit the form to the Dean of Student Success, again within the ten (10) day time frame. The Dean of Student Success may make a preliminary investigation to determine if the concerns can be resolved by mutual consent. If the issue cannot be resolved, the Dean of Student Success will contact the other party’s immediate supervisor, who will conduct an investigation and render a written decision within ten (10) calendar days.
- If the decision of the immediate supervisor is not satisfactory, the student may file a written appeal within ten (10) calendar days with the vice president of academic and student services. The vice president will render a written decision within ten (10) calendar days.
- If the vice president’s decision is not satisfactory, the student may file a written request for appeal to the judicial review committee within ten (10) business days after receiving the decision from the vice president. The written request must be attached to the Student Grievance Form and include any documentation that has been presented in the prior steps. These documents shall be submitted to the dean of student success, who will convene the judicial committee.
- Copies of the grievance will be provided to all parties of the grievance. The student will be scheduled to meet with the judicial review committee within 30 calendar days following the request to the committee. (*If more time is needed to convene the committee, the parties involved will be notified in writing.) Both parties shall have the right to have present, at their own expense, legal counsel or others who may advise but may not present to the committee. In reaching its decision, the judicial review committee shall consider only the evidence presented at the hearing and such oral or written arguments as the judicial committee may consider relevant. The Board shall make a written decision within ten (10) business days of the meeting.
- Either party may appeal in writing the decision of the judicial committee to the president within ten (10) business days of the decision. The president will review the judicial committee findings and make the final decision.
Student Complaints Under State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA)
Southwest Virginia Community College accepts oversight from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for higher education, in resolving complaints from students taking distance education under the aegis of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA).
All student complaints will be addressed through the Southwest Student Grievance Procedure. Subsequently, if the complaint has not been resolved internally, the student may submit the Student Complaint form to SCHEV. More details on the formal SCHEV student complaints procedure may be found on the SCHEV agency page at www.schev.edu. Students may also seek resolution through the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education (“OCR”). A complaint filed with OCR must be filed within 180 calendar days of the alleged discrimination. Or, if the college complaint procedure was utilized by the student, the OCR complaint must be filed within 60 calendar days from the date of the final decision, unless the time for filing is extended by the OCR for good cause shown. Information on how to proceed may be accessed on OCR’s website at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html.