Grievance and Complaint Procedures

28 Grievance and Complaint Procedures

28.1 Preface

All members of the UNH community are encouraged to make efforts to resolve conflicts informally before pursuing grievance or complaint procedures. Students are encouraged to talk with faculty or staff members or to write letters to seek resolution of their concerns. In some cases, however, the University acknowledges that such action may be intimidating and/or ineffective. In those cases, students can pursue the complaint procedures described below to resolve concerns involving faculty, and students can pursue the grievance procedures described below to resolve concerns involving staff.

The grievance and complaint procedures may be initiated by any UNH students, including undergraduate or graduate degree candidates. These options are available to students who believe that a University faculty or staff member has not acted according to policies outlined in this publication or any other official publication of the University of New Hampshire. The University has established specific procedures to address concerns related to discriminatory harassment and sexual harassment detailed in 10.2. In all cases where a student complains of sexual harassment by an employee (e.g., faculty, staff, teaching assistant) the responsible person aware of the complaint must seek the assistance of the Director/Title IX Coordinator of the Affirmative Action and Equity Office.  Exceptions to this requirement include the Counseling Center, Health Services and SHARPP (Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program).  Harassment complaints against teaching assistants may be filed under this policy or by using Article III of the Student Code of Conduct. The Office of Affirmative Action and Equity may be consulted at any time for assistance.

28.2 Complaints About Faculty

Students should discuss their concerns directly with the faculty member and seek a resolution. However, if the student feels that direct discussion would be counterproductive or if, after consulting with the faculty member, a student still has a complaint, she or he should talk with the chairperson of the faculty member's department. If no satisfactory resolution results, the student may talk with the dean of the college or school. If the matter is not resolved by the dean, final appeal may be made to the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

28.3 Grievance Against Staff

Any student who wishes to pursue a grievance should first contact the staff member and review his or her concern. The student must call to make that appointment within one academic semester of when the incident occurred or of when she/he became aware that it occurred. (For the purpose of the grievance process, summer session is not considered an academic semester.)

At any point in the grievance process, a student may be accompanied by a non-attorney support person of his or her choosing. The steps involved in the grievance process are as follows:

28.31 Step I: Informal Resolution with Assistance The student will notify the staff member s/he is concerned about, in writing or on the telephone, that s/he has a concern. The student will set up a meeting with that person to discuss the concern and seek a resolution. The staff member may choose to have a non-attorney support person at that meeting, as well. If the staff member involved is not available (due to legitimate reasons such as professional leave, sickness, etc.), the student may go on to Step II and meet with the supervisor.

Within five academic days of this meeting, regardless of the terms of resolution, the staff member will provide the student with a written summary of the discussion. This summary will include any agreements arrived at during that meeting. The student may choose to meet again to finalize agreements. If the student does not receive that letter she or he may choose to move on to Step II. This next step can be initiated only after the 5 day waiting period, and no longer than 5 days after the end of the waiting period.

If this process results in a resolution, the student must acknowledge the resolution in a letter to the staff member concerned within five academic days of receiving the staff member's letter. Failure to respond or to initiate Step II will result in termination of the grievance process for this issue.

If this process does not result in a resolution, the student may move on to Step II.

28.32 Step II: Supervisor Review The student and his or her support person will send a letter to the supervisor of the staff member the student is concerned about. The letter will include a summary of the student's complaint and a statement as to the resolution she or he is seeking. The letter will also include a copy of the results of Step I of the grievance process.

The supervisor will respond in writing, or set up a meeting with the staff member concerned, his or her support person, the student, and the student's support person. The student will receive either a response or a meeting time within ten days.

The supervisor may step in and resolve the issue to the student's satisfaction without a meeting, or have the meeting to determine what action to take to resolve the issue. If a meeting is scheduled, it must take place within five academic days of the notice of the meeting, but both parties must be given at least three days' notice. If a meeting takes place, both parties will receive a summary of the results of that meeting from the supervisor within five academic days of the meeting. If his or her decision is not a satisfactory resolution for the student, the student may choose to move on to Step III.

28.33 Step III: Hearing The student or support person will request that the Student Grievance Hearing Board be convened by the Director of the Office of Conduct and Mediation to conduct a hearing on this issue. All parties will be notified of the hearing date, time, and place and attend that hearing with support persons. Hearings must be scheduled within ten days of the request for a hearing and at least three academic days' notice will be given both parties prior to the hearing. The hearing will involve presentations of each side of the issue including recommendations for resolution. The board will make a decision as to whether a USNH policy has been violated, and if so, what the appropriate resolution should be. The board may elect to listen to both sides, then recess for as many as ten academic days to investigate the situation. If a recess is called, all parties will be notified as to the time, place, and date of the final board meeting when the board may ask for more information and announce its decision. The board must deliver its decision in writing to both parties within 48 hours after the hearing's conclusion.

28.34 Appeal Students or staff members may appeal the decision of the board to the Vice President for Student and Academic Services or his/her designee. The appeal must be delivered to the Vice President's Office within five academic days of receiving notice of the board's decision. Appeals may be based on procedural error or inappropriate decision. The Vice President or designee will review all written documentation and a) uphold the Board's decision, or b) remand the decision to the Board for reconsideration. That decision and rationale must be delivered to both parties within ten academic days of receiving the appeal.

28.35 Student Grievance Hearing Board This board will be appointed at the beginning of each academic year by the Director of the Office of Conduct and Mediation, in consultation with the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources or designee. Membership will consist of one graduate student, one undergraduate student, one member of the Operating Staff council, and one of the PAT staff council. The Director of the Office of Conduct and Mediation will be responsible for assuring that the board is convened at the beginning of each academic year to review the grievance process and be trained to facilitate hearings.