IAS Grievance and Complaint Policy and Procedure

The School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences upholds values that include institutional responsiveness, and social justice, diversity, and equity. Our internal and informal resolution and conciliation procedures aim to aid students, faculty, and staff in resolving concerns about unfair treatment in the conduct of academic or university policies or practices. The goal of these procedures is to address problems and inappropriate behavior quickly and directly; to work toward a reasonable resolution; and to promote a productive and positive learning environment.

What is a grievance or complaint?

A grievance or complaint is an allegation of unfair treatment, inappropriate behavior, or substantive injustice in the conduct of academic or university policy, practice, or business.

**Please note: complaints regarding the following have their own specific procedures and/or agencies:

What is the IAS policy and procedure for local complaints that involve IAS faculty or staff members?

Student Complaints

Students may consult with the appropriate academic advisor in navigating this process, who will assist students in understanding the procedures outlined below and identifying the best way to proceed. IAS graduate students should contact the Graduate Programs Advisor to make an appointment.

All conversations and records relating to grievances will be treated as confidential.

Step 1: Informal Resolution

Students are encouraged, wherever possible, to resolve concerns or difficulties informally and directly in a face-to-face conversation with the person(s) concerned. Either the student or the person(s) involved may request another person to be present during this discussion. Persons appropriate to this intermediary role could include another faculty member, an IAS Advisor, or other University staff member. Most conflicts can be resolved at this stage.

Particular circumstances may warrant an exception to this step, in which case direct pursuit of a Formal Grievance under Step 2 may be necessary.

Step 2: Preparing a Formal Grievance

If attempts at informal resolution are not successful, or if circumstances make discussion inappropriate with the person(s) most directly involved, then the student should meet with the Lead Advisor (undergraduate students) or Graduate Program Advisor (graduate students) to clarify the outcome that the student hopes to achieve, prior to preparing a formal grievance in writing. The formal grievance should be submitted by the student in writing to the Dean, and copied to the Lead Advisor or Graduate Program Advisor as appropriate, and the person(s) concerned in the complaint. This written record will be treated as confidential and retained in the student’s advising file.

Step 3: Mediation by the Dean

Receipt of the student’s formal grievance will be acknowledged in writing, and the review process will commence within 10 working days of its receipt.

The Dean or their designee will obtain all information gathered from all involved parties and in undertaking this review, may request a response to the issues raised in the grievance from any individuals believed to have information considered relevant to the situation, including faculty, staff, and students.

The review by the Dean or their designee will usually be limited to the following considerations:

  1. Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision? Were improper or extraneous facts or criteria brought to bear that substantially affected the decision to the detriment of the student?
  2. Were there any procedural irregularities that substantially affected the outcome of the matter to the detriment of the student?
  3. Given the proper facts, criteria, and procedures, was the decision one which a person in the position of the decision maker might reasonably have made?

The Dean or their designee should normally complete a review of the appeal and issue a decision on the situation in writing within 45 days. That decision is final. All reasonable measures will be taken to finalize the process as soon as practicable.

The student will be informed what steps have been or will be taken to address the grievance, the outcome, the reasons for the decision, and further avenues for appeal.

Faculty or staff complaints

Faculty and staff members are encouraged to resolve concerns and difficulties with other university employees directly in face-to-face conversation with the person(s) concerned. Any person involved may request another person of their choosing (see University Resources below) to be present during this discussion. If resolution is not achieved, complaints against other university employees should be brought to the appropriate supervisor, or, if the supervisor is the source of the conflict, with the administrative head of the employing organization (faculty should first contact the Dean; staff should first contact their manager, and then appeal to the Dean). Complaints can also be referred to the appropriate human resources office (see University Resources below).

Timeframe for complaints

Because the aim of local resolution and informal conciliation is responsiveness, complaints should be brought to the attention of the involved parties or their supervisors promptly, within ten days of the exciting cause. Note that formal complaints lodged through other offices have prescribed time periods.

What other university resources may students, faculty, staff, and leadership enlist in hearing and resolving complaints?

University policies that guide this IAS Grievance and Complaint Policy and Procedure