Due Process for Student Grievances

It is the policy of the University to utilize due process in handling student grievances.  It is also the policy of the University to utilize due process in disciplinary actions taken against students.

In a Christian academic environment, every effort should be made to sustain a relationship of charity and cooperation between all members of the community.   Occasionally, however, a student may have a grievance with a member of the faculty, staff, or fellow student/peer. The student with the grievance should endeavor first to meet with the other party to discuss the difficulty in an attempt to resolve the issue.  If the student does not feel at ease approaching the individual, or is not satisfied with the results of such a meeting, he or she should consult the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs who will provide guidance as to what additional steps, if any, should be taken.  If resolution is not reached at this informal level, the student may then wish to file a formal grievance.  At any point in the process described herein, the student filing a grievance will always have the option to withdraw the grievance. The University has established the following Grievance Resolution Procedure for students to use for all aspects of their experience with academic, student, and other support services of the University. 

Confidentiality

In the grievance resolution process, every reasonable effort will be made to protect the privacy of all parties. All records pertaining to the investigation and to the disposition of the grievance shall be maintained in sealed files in conformity with state and federal privacy requirements.  Records of individuals involved or alleged to be involved in a grievance will be made available to officials of the University who have a need to know, and otherwise only in accordance with applicable state and federal laws and only to the extent required by law.

Resolution Procedures for Student Grievance with Faculty Member or Student/Peer

Student grievances directed to a member(s) of the faculty or student body (referred to herein as “the respondent”) will be handled as follows:

  1. Filing a Grievance: The complainant shall file a written grievance with the Academic Dean. The complainant shall record with specificity the circumstances of his/her grievance.
  2. Fact-Finding Committee: The Dean will appoint a Fact-Finding Committee consisting of three faculty members. A Chair of the committee will be designated by the Academic Dean. If a conflict of interest or other valid reason prevents a committee member from serving, the Academic Dean shall select an alternate. The Academic Dean shall make every effort to ensure that a fair, impartial, and representative committee hears the matter.
  3. Notification: The Academic Dean shall give the respondent written notification that a grievance has been filed, as well as a copy of the grievance. The respondent may file a written response with the Fact-Finding Committee Chair. The Academic Dean shall provide a copy of the response to the complainant.
  4. Investigation: The following standards for investigation will be observed:
    1. in conducting the investigation, the committee shall receive and review the grievance, the response, and other pertinent statements or documents;
    2. the complainant and respondent shall be given the opportunity to respond to one another’s statements, and individually to present witnesses or concerned parties in conformity to the evidence presented; and,
    3. the committee will interview witnesses and concerned parties individually and in conformity with privacy requirements, as it deems necessary.
  5. Fact-Finding Report: When, in the judgment of the Committee, the positions of the complainant and respondent have been equitably heard, the Committee shall submit a written Fact-Finding Report to the Academic Dean. The Fact-Finding Report shall contain the following:
    1. a statement of the issues under review;
    2. the positions of the parties;
    3. a finding of the results of the investigation;
    4. conclusion as to whether there is probable cause to believe that the grievance is valid; and,
    5. recommendations for action(s) to be taken.

The total time period for the investigation, from the filing of a written grievance to submission of the Fact-Finding Report to the Academic Dean shall not exceed ninety (90) calendar days.

The Chair of the Fact-Finding Committee will maintain all records of the grievance, including its conclusions and recommendations. These records shall be transferred to the Office of the Academic Dean at the time of disposition of the grievance. The records shall be maintained in conformity with state and federal privacy and disclosure requirements, policies and procedures.

Disposition of the Grievance and Disciplinary Action

The Academic Dean will make the decision about action to be taken. The factual conclusions contained in the Fact-Finding Report shall be binding upon the Academic Dean for the purpose of this determination.

The Academic Dean will discuss the decision with the Chair of the Fact-Finding Committee, prior to taking action, if the action to be taken is different than that recommended by the Committee.

The Academic Dean will immediately notify the complainant and the respondent in writing of the disposition of the grievance once the decision has been made.

The decision of the Academic Dean will be made within ten (10) working days of the receipt of the Fact-Finding Report.  The decision may be appealed in writing by either the complainant or the respondent to the President of the University; the appeal must be made no later than fifteen (15) working days from the date of the Academic Dean’s notification of the decision.

If the complainant is a student and the student has not received a satisfactory resolution after exhausting all available grievance procedures established by the institution, the student may contact the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) as a last resort in the grievance process, using this link: https://surveys.schev.edu/students/studentcomplaint.asp   

Student Grievance Resolution Procedures Involving Staff

The same procedures as described for student grievances directed to faculty will be followed in the case of a student grievance directed to a staff member, with the following two exceptions:

  1. a) the Vice President for Finance and Administration will serve in place of the Academic Dean; and,
  2. b) the Fact-Finding Committee will be appointed from either staff or faculty of the University.

Retaliation Prohibited

DMU strictly prohibits retaliation against a member of the University community who files a grievance, against whom a grievance is filed, or who otherwise is a participant in the grievance resolution procedure. Such retaliatory conduct includes, but is not limited to, decreasing an employee’s pay, reducing a student’s grade, or downgrading a person’s performance evaluation.

Procedures for Veterans and Other Eligible Persons

The Student Grievance Process Policy should be followed by all students. Veterans and other eligible persons may report a grievance against the institution to the Virginia State Approving Agency and US Department of Veterans Affairs as required: “The Virginia State Approving Agency (SAA), is the approving authority of education and training programs for Virginia. Our office investigates complaints of GI Bill beneficiaries. While most complaints should initially follow the school grievance policy, if the situation cannot be resolved at the school, the beneficiary should contact our office via email saa@dvs.virginia.gov.”