FM. Student Grievance Procedure
A student grievance is a College related issue or condition that a student believes to be unfair, inequitable, discriminatory, or a hindrance to the educational process. A grievance also includes discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The student grievance procedure is not intended to supplant the Student Code of Conduct, which allows the student procedural due process in disciplinary proceedings initiated by the College. This student grievance procedure is designed to provide the student with the opportunity to file a grievance, as defined above, and to provide a process for resolution of the grievance.
Exceptions to Procedures – Sexual Harassment
A student who believes he or she has been or is being subjected to any form of sexual harassment shall bring the matter to the attention of the Vice President for Student Affairs or designee in accordance with the procedures in the College’s complaints policy. However, no procedure or step in that policy shall have the effect of requiring the student alleging harassment to present the matter to a person who is the subject of the complaint, nor shall a sexual harassment complaint be dismissed because it is not filed within certain timeframe.
Informal Dispute Resolution
Before pursuing the formal complaint process, every reasonable effort should be made to constructively resolve issues with faculty, staff, or administrators.
- Whenever possible and safe, the problem or complaint should first be discussed with the individual involved in the complaint.
- If satisfactory resolution is not reached after discussion with the individual, the student should contact the individual’s direct supervisor to attempt to resolve the complaint.
- If these efforts are unsuccessful, the formal complaint process may be initiated. The College does not require a student to contact the person involved or that person’s supervisor if doing so is impracticable, or if the student believes that the conduct cannot be effectively addressed through informal means.
Formal Dispute Resolution
In order to be considered, a formal complaint must be submitted in writing. Complaints should include the complainant’s contact information and either be signed by the complainant or be submitted through MySPC at htts://myspc.southplainscollege.edu/ICS/Students/Complaints/edu . Students may request a conference with the Vice President for Student Affairs for further direction in initiating the process. Formal complaints should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than six (6) months after the incident.
The grievance letter should clearly and concisely describe the alleged incident(s), when and where it occurred, all informal efforts taken to resolve the issue(s) and the desired remedy sought. Any supporting documentation and evidence should be referenced within the body of the formal grievance and submitted as quickly as is practical.
Upon receipt of a grievance the Vice President for Student Affairs will open a formal case file and assign a case official who will direct the investigation and notify the complainant of the status or decision within fifteen (15) working days after receipt of the formal complaint.
If the outcome is not to the student’s satisfaction, the student has fifteen (15) working days to request a hearing. The case official will convene and chair the hearing. The membership of the hearing body will be determined by the case official and will include a faculty member of the student’s choice and the President of Student Government. Additional members may include deans, directors, chairpersons, or faculty members as deemed appropriate by the case official. Others may be invited to substantiate the case as deemed appropriate by the case official.
The goal of the hearing is to provide an equitable resolution via an equitable process, respecting the civil and legal rights of all participants. Any sanctions or actions recommended by the hearing body will be carried out by the case official. The decision of the committee is final, yet subject to appeal.
In the event that an accused individual accepts the findings of the investigation, those findings cannot be appealed. Post-hearing, any party to the complaint may appeal the findings and/or sanctions, although only under the grounds described below.
All sanctions imposed by the original hearing body will be in effect during the appeal. In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the institution or of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the student to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irretrievable in the short term.
The decision of the case official and hearing body may be appealed by petitioning the Vice President over the area the original complaint was heard. Accused students or complainants must petition in writing within five (5) business days of receiving the written decision for a review of the decision or the sanctions imposed. The Vice President will determine if the appeal meets the limited grounds and is timely. The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, and the decision is final. The party requesting appeal must show error, as the original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The ONLY grounds for appeal are as follows:
- A procedural error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.)
- To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included;
- The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.
If the Vice President determines that new evidence should be considered, the complaint will be returned to the original hearing body to reconsider in light of the new evidence only. The hearing body will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within five (5) business days from hearing of the appeal. The committee’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.
Title IX Grievances
The Vice President for Student Affairs is the South Plains College Title IX Coordinator and is designated to formally investigate student grievances, address inquiries and coordinate the College’s compliance efforts regarding student complaints and grievances. Notice of a formal complaint can be made in person or orally to an appropriate official, but the College strongly encourages submission of grievances in writing. All complaints of discrimination or harassment as defined below should be reported to:
Vice President for Student Affairs (Title IX Coordinator)
South Plains College
1401 S. College Avenue
Levelland, TX 79336
Individuals with complaints of this nature also always have the right to file a formal complaint with the United States Department of Education:
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
Customer Service Hotline #: (800)421-3481
Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome, gender-based verbal or physical conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it has the effect of unreasonably interfering with, limiting or denying someone the ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s educational program. The unwelcome behavior may be based on power differentials (quid pro quo), the creation of a hostile environment or retaliation. Examples include: an attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship; to repeatedly subject a person to egregious, unwanted sexual attention; to punish a refusal to comply; to condition a benefit on submitting to sexual advances; sexual violence; intimate partner violence, stalking; gender-based bulling. This may be a case of sexual harassment of a student by another student, a faculty/staff member by a student, or a student by a faculty/staff member.
Discrimination: Any distinction, preference, advantage for or detriment to an individual compared to others that is based upon an individual’s actual or perceived gender, race, color, age, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, veteran status, pregnancy status, religion or sexual orientation that is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s educational program or activities.
Discriminatory Harassment: Detrimental action based on an individual’s actual or perceived gender, race, color, age, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, veteran status, pregnancy status, religion, sexual orientation or other protected status that is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s educational program or activities.
Retaliatory Harassment: Intentional action taken by an accused individual or allied third party, absent legitimate non-discriminatory purposes, that harms an individual as reprisal for filing or participating in a civil rights grievance proceeding.
CONFIDENTIALITY, PRIVACY AND REPORTING POLICY
When consulting campus resources, all parties should be aware of confidentiality, privacy and mandatory reporting in order to make informed choices. On campus, some resources can offer you confidentiality, sharing options and advice without any obligation to tell anyone unless you want them to. Other resources are expressly there for you to report crimes and policy violations and they will take action when you report your victimization to them. Most resources on campus fall in the middle of these two extremes.
To Report Confidentially
If one desires that detail of the incident be kept confidential, they should speak with on-campus counselors, campus health service providers or off-campus rape crisis resources who can maintain confidentiality, except in the rare event that the incident reveals a need to protect you or other members of the community.
Reporting to Those Who Can Maintain the Privacy of What You Share
You can seek advice from certain resources who are not required to tell anyone else your private, personally identifiable information unless there is cause for fear for your safety, or the safety of others. These are individuals who the College has not specifically designated as “responsible employees” for purposes of putting the institution on notice and for whom mandatory reporting is required, other than in the stated limited circumstances. These resources include those without supervisory responsibility or remedial authority to address sexual misconduct, such as residence hall supervisors, wing advisors, faculty members, advisors to student organizations, career services staff, admissions officers, Student Life personnel, and many others. If you are unsure of someone’s duties and ability to maintain your privacy, ask them before you talk to them. They will be able to tell you, and help you make decisions about who can help you best.
Some of these resources, such as residence hall directors, will be instructed to share incident reports with their supervisors, but they will not share any personally identifiable information about your report unless you give permission, except in the rare event that the incident reveals a need to protect you or other members of the community. If personally identifiable information is shared, it will only be shared as necessary with as few people as possible, and all efforts will be made to protect your privacy.
Non-Confidential Reporting Options
You are encouraged to speak to officials of the institution to make formal reports of incidents (deans, directors, vice presidents, or other administrators with supervisory responsibilities, campu security, and human resources). The College considers these people to be “responsible employees.” Notice to them is official notice to the institution. You have the right and can expect to have incidents of sexual misconduct to be taken seriously by the institution when formally reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through administrative procedures. Formal reporting means that only people who need to know will be told and information will be shared only as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused individual.
Federal Timely Warning Reporting Obligations
Victims of sexual misconduct should also be aware that college administrators must issue immediate timely warnings for incidents reported to them that are confirmed to pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. The College will make every effort to ensure that a victim’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.
Authorized by: Vice President for Student Affairs
Nature of Revision: Content
Date Issued: 08/01
Date Revised: 2/18/2013Approved by Executive Council