This student complaint policy statement assists both students and campus employees (faculty, staff, and administration) in handling student complaints through a positive and beneficial process.
The Hannibal-LaGrange University (HLGU) purpose is to provide an exceptional collaborative learning environment that prepares students for meaningful personal lives, professional accomplishments, and responsible citizenship. HLGU is committed to:
• Continuous improvement of both its academic and non-academic support services for it students.
• Adequate, easily activated procedures to deal with student complaints.
• Effective complaint resolution processes using clear, fair, and reliable management.
• Opportunities to analyze recurring or persistent problems that ensure improvement of student life and student satisfaction.
The Institution is committed to providing students with access to appropriate procedures for stating concerns and registering appeals.
HLGU intends to treat complaints seriously with prompt, confidential, respectful, and fair resolution for all parties. It is also committed, wherever possible, to dealing with complaints at the informal level. Complaints that are resolved quickly, informally, and with the fewest people provide the greatest opportunities for removing any impediment to good working/teaching/learning relationships.
The complaint policy and procedures are based on the following principles:
1. That the procedure to resolve any complaint is fair, impartial, and capable of offering appropriate outcomes;
2. That complaints are treated confidentially and respectfully;
3. That the complaint procedures are easily understood and conveniently accessible by both students and staff;
4. That bias in favor of either students or staff is avoided;
5. That the complaint system is supported at all levels of the University;
6. That no student suffers detriment as a result of making a complaint—any attempt to penalize a student for filing a complaint may be subject to University disciplinary procedures;
7. That, wherever possible, complaints are resolved informally with the fewest necessary people involved;
8. That all students have the right to appeal informal decisions to the Formal Complaint Process;
9. That a mechanism is in place to monitor the nature and outcome of complaints across the University for the purpose of identifying patterns of issues and complaints of widespread concern to students; and
10. That the effectiveness of the complaint system is regularly evaluated by the administration for needed modifications.
Informal & Formal Complaints
A student complaint usually involves a policy or procedure that is perceived to have been incorrectly or unfairly applied in the student’s particular case. In most instances, complaints can best be resolved through an informal process beginning with talking to the campus employee and/or the employee’s supervisor if necessary. The informal process is often quick and removes simple misunderstandings. The student is encouraged always to seek the informal resolution first. If a satisfactory resolution is not reached at that level, then the formal student complaint process may be used (see below).
Informal Student Complaint Process
The majority of complaints are resolved successfully at this level. Examples of informal complaint resolution are:
1. Questions about grades: the resolution should begin with an appointment with the instructor.
a. Often an explanation may be more than sufficient, or, on the other hand,
b. The instructor may discover and resolve an error in the grading.
c. If a resolution is not reached, then a visit with the academic department chair may be useful before entering the formal student complaint process.
2. Questions on a billing statement: these are usually resolved with a simple trip to the business office.
3. Issues about student life: many issues are resolved with a visit to the dorm residence director or to the dean of students.
4. The academic adviser can often provide guidance about what office or person can assist in resolving many issues.
Basic steps in the informal process include:
1. Begin by discussing the matter with the staff, faculty, or department where the issue originated.
2. If the issue is not resolved there, then contact with the relevant supervisor, department chair, or associate/assistant dean may be instrumental is seeking a resolution.
3. If these steps do not produce a resolution, the student may use the formal student complaint process.
Formal Student Complaint Process
If the informal process does not provide satisfactory resolution, then the following procedure may be followed.
1. Fill out the complaint form.
2. The office of student life will respond within 5 working days, but sooner when possible,
a. To the Complainant by . . .
i. Acknowledging that the complaint was received.
ii. Stating the steps that will be taken to resolve the issue.
b. To the relevant office, person, or department either named in the complaint or selected as the best approach for resolving the complaint by . . .
i. Requesting a plan within 3 working days for resolution of the complaint.
ii. Requesting a report within 7 working days describing the outcome of the plan by giving
(1) The status of the complaint,
(2) How the complaint was resolved, or
(3) The steps attempted for resolving the complaint.
3. The student is entitled to a satisfactory resolution. If the student is not satisfied with the resolution, the appeal and grievance processes stated in the student handbook may be followed. The personnel (someone not involved in the complaint) in the office of student life will counsel the student through the appeal process.
4. The office of student life will keep formal records about all formal student complaints and their resolution and will pursue those complaints that are not resolved in a timely fashion.
5. The office of student life will regularly analyze the complaints to discover patterns and suggestions for needed improvements in general campus policies and/or procedures. These will be brought to the executive cabinet by the dean of student life on a regular basis as follows:
a. The list of types of formal student complaints (or lack thereof) will be entered into the minutes at least quarterly.
b. Any patterns observed will be presented at least once a semester followed by a discussion about needed changes in the wider environment of campus policies, relationships, or procedures.
c. Any need for a revision of this statement (or lack of need) will be presented at least annually.