SEU Student Grievance Policy

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Purpose

The Saint Elizabeth University (SEU) Student Grievance Policy outlines the process by which students may express and resolve grievances that they have with any University employee, fellow student, or third party associated with the University not explicitly covered by another university policy (see Exclusions below).

A student may use this procedure if s/he believes that a University employee, fellow student, or external party has violated a University policy or has acted in a discriminatory manner or perceives he/she has been treated in an unequal, unjust or unfair way. Students should first try to resolve grievances through informal means. If their concerns are not resolved satisfactorily, they may submit a formal grievance.


SEU Definitions

  1. Grievance:
    The University defines a grievance as a serious concern or complaint that a student has attempted to resolve through an informal process, but for which the student is not satisfied with the outcome and wishes to seek review at a higher organizational level. It is not intended to create an adversarial or court-like proceeding but is designed to facilitate fact-finding and to review incidences, actions, or decisions that have negatively affected or raised a serious concern for a student.

    The University has established the following process to address grievances, but requests that a student first review the Student Handbook and/or the Academic Catalog to ensure they understand and enact applicable University policy before submitting a grievance.
  2. Complainant:
    The party who initiates the grievance process, seeking a formal resolution or remedy to a conflict or situation on campus.
  3. Responding Party:
    The individual(s) against whom the grievance is made.

Exclusions:

  1. Acts of discrimination, harassment and/or sexual misconduct (including sexual assault) will not proceed under the Student Grievance Policy. Please refer to Saint Elizabeth University's Sexual Misconduct Policy and contact the University's Title IX Coordinator to file a report.
  2. Grievances regarding Code of Conduct violations, such as acts of violence and physical assault, are handled through judicial affairs procedures that include an appeal process through the Vice President for Student Life, whose decision is final.
  3. Acts of violence and physical assault will not proceed under the Student Grievance Policy. Please refer to Saint Elizabeth University’s Code of Conduct to file a report.
  4. Grievances regarding final course grades, or grades on coursework shall not proceed under the Student Grievance Procedure. Please refer to Academic Review Board: Grievances and Grade Appeals.
  5. Matters over which the University has no authority to act (e.g. municipal speeding tickets, arrests, etc.)

Process for Filing a Grievance

Prior to filing a formal grievance as outlined in this policy, the Complainant is expected to discuss the grievance with the Responding Party, or the Responding Party's supervisor within 15 business days* of occurrence.

In situations where a SEU student or a third party (e.g. external vendor or visitor) is the Responding Party, the Complainant should bring the grievance to the attention of the Vice President for Student Life who will attempt to mediate a resolution. If a resolution is not reached through the informal resolution process, the student may elect to file a formal grievance.

The Responding Party must be notified of a grievance within 15 business days of the incident. If the Complainant does not notify within this timeframe, the student waives the right to redress under this policy.

* – A business day is considered every official work day of the week; another common term is work day. These are the days between and holding from Monday through Friday, and do not include public holidays and weekends.


Filing a Formal Grievance:

If the Complainant is not satisfied with the resolution provided through the informal process listed above, the Complainant has 15 business days from the date of the resolution to submit the formal grievance, in writing, to the Executive Assistant to the President.

The formal grievance, addressed to the Executive Assistant and emailed to president@steu.edu must include the following:

  • Date of submission;
  • Name and contact information of the student submitting the grievance (Complainant);
  • Name(s) of the individual(s) directly involved in the matter being reviewed (Responding Party);
  • A brief statement describing the incident including but not limited to: where and when it occurred. Any supporting materials or evidence should be referenced in the statement and attached to, or included with the statement;
  • Date(s) of the good faith discussion with the individual involved and the supervisor or Vice President for Student Life in the case of peers, guests or other third parties;
  • Reason for further appeal;
  • Desired outcome; and
  • Signature of complainant.

Within 10 business days of receipt of the formal grievance, the President’s office will request a summary of the informal mediation, and convene a grievance hearing committee. The Committee will consist of two faculty members, two students, and one staff member.

Members of the committee will meet with the Complainant and Responding Party (either individually or jointly) within 10 business days of receipt of the formal grievance and begin a fair and impartial investigation into the matter. Witnesses for either party may be asked to provide written statements or attend meetings during the investigation. The Committee may also request a meeting with other relevant college staff, students, or other parties as part of the investigation.

The investigation will be kept confidential to the extent possible. At the Committee’s discretion, meetings may be discontinued with any disruptive individual. In such instances, the Committee will make a determination based on the information and evidence available at such time.

Consistent with the University's obligation to promptly resolve grievances, the University reserves the right to proceed with any meeting or interview, regardless of the availability of either party's selected silent supporter. Student and faculty class schedules will be the only factor considered in scheduling meetings.

Both the Complainant and Responding Party have the right to have present a Silent Supporter during any meeting. However, the Supporter may only consult and advise the student, not speak for the advisee or otherwise participate in any meeting or hearing. If the Complainant or Responding Party (when a SEU student) has a documented disability and would like to request accommodation to assist the student through the formal grievance process, the student may contact Accessibility Services for support.

These procedures are administrative in nature and are not considered legal proceedings. Committee members may remove or dismiss a supporter who becomes disruptive or who does not abide by the restrictions on participation. Failure to comply with the Student Grievance Policy during the course of a grievance shall result in the waiving of the student’s rights under Saint Elizabeth University's Student Grievance Policy.

This Student Grievance Policy is not intended to be a substitute for any other mode of redress outside the University. For example, a student where appropriate, may choose to engage law enforcement, the judicial system, a private attorney, or governmental agencies such as the NJ Division of Civil Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, or other appropriate agency.

A student may choose to engage any option outside the University’s internal grievance procedure, at any point before, during, or after University proceedings. However, the student should consult outside agencies statutes of limitations as all outside claims have requirements regarding timely filings, the violation of which may preclude relief thereunder.

The purpose of the SEU Student Grievance Policy is to address the University’s interest in promoting a safe, harmonious and bias free environment for the University community.


Special Grievance Process Provisions:

  • The student is responsible for presenting his/her own case except when the student is under the age of 18 or incapacitated.
  • The procedural rights afforded to students above may be waived by the student.
  • The student shall have the right to identify documents, witnesses, and other materials for review before the Committee presents a final decision.
  • Any hearing or interview held shall be conducted in private unless all parties agree otherwise.
  • The University will use the preponderance of evidence standard in the grievance proceedings.
  • The University will not tolerate the intentional false reporting of incidents. False reporting could lead to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal for students.
  • Although every effort will be made to adhere to the timelines outlined in this policy, the University reserves the right to modify such timelines based on extraordinary circumstances (e.g. vacation, illness, religious observance).

Decision:

Based on the preponderance of evidence standard, the Committee will make a decision, in writing, to both the Complainant and the Responding Party. The Committee decision shall accept or reject the grievance, and make recommendation(s) to resolve the issue(s). Both the Complainant and the Responding Party will be informed of their right to appeal the decision subject to the grounds below.


Appeal:

A written appeal must be filed with the Executive Assistant to the President within seven business days of the Committee decision. In the event of an appeal, the Executive Assistant to the President shall give written notice to the Responding party to allow the Responding Party the opportunity to submit a response in writing.

In the event the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, the original finding will stand and the Committee’s decision is final. The party requesting appeal must show error as the original finding is presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately.

The ONLY grounds for appeal are as follows:

  1. A procedural error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. material deviation from established procedures); or
  2. To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included in the written appeal.

If the Executive Assistant to the President determines that an appeal hearing is warranted, all documents pertaining to the grievance will be provided to the President and the Committee chair for review.

The determination of the President shall be considered the final decision, with no other avenues of appeal available on campus. The President will render the decision within seven business days.


Retaliatory Acts:

If any person who files a grievance, or any person who testifies, assists or participates in a grievance proceeding, investigation or hearing, believes s/he is being subjected to retaliatory acts he/she may report such incidences to the Vice President for Student Life.

It is a violation of the Student Grievance Policy to engage in retaliatory acts against any person who files a grievance or participates in the grievance proceeding. Such acts will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal for students, termination for University employees, and the removal and/or exclusion of external parties from college property.


Filing an External Grievance:

If the grievance is not satisfactorily resolved through official University channels, in compliance with the federal government's program integrity regulations 34 C.F.R. §600.9(a) and 34 C.F.R. §668.43(b), students (or prospective students) may file a grievance with the University's accreditor and/or with the relevant State approval or licensing entity, State official or agency that would appropriately handle such a grievance.

To review the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) instructions for filing a complaint about an institution of higher education, please visit the OSHE website.

The contact information for the University's accrediting agency and for its licensing authority are listed below:

Accrediting Agency

Middle States Commission on Higher Education
1007 North Orange Street
4th Floor, MB #166
Wilmington, DE 19801
Tel: (267) 284-5011

Licensing Authority

Secretary of Higher Education

Mailing Address:
NJ Higher Education
P.O. Box 542
Trenton, NJ 08608-0542

Physical Address:
20 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608-1206
Tel: (609) 292-4310
Fax: (609) 292-7225 or (609) 633-8420

OCR National Headquarters

U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Bldg
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
Tel: (800) 421-3481
Fax: (202) 453-6012; TDD: (800) 877-8339
Email: OCR@ed.gov

Professional Accreditors:

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
3390 Peachtree Road NE
Suite 1400
Atlanta, GA 30326
Tel: (404) 945-5000

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Headquarters
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995
Tel: (800) 877-1600
Tel: (312) 899-0040

Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation
1140 19th St NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 223-0077

American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Tel: (800) 374-2721 or (202) 336-5500

For State Complaints About:

  • New Jersey student financial aid matters (e.g. student loans, grants, scholarships, TAG, NJ STARS, etc.), contact:
    Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA)
    (800) 792-8670 or (609) 584-4480
  • Programs in fields leading to teacher certification or for K-12 issues, contact:
    Department of Education
    (609) 376-3500
  • Programs leading to nursing licensure, contact:
    New Jersey Board of Nursing
    (973) 504-6516
  • Civil rights complaints involving discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, disability and sex, including sexual harassment, should be filed with:

    Office for Civil Rights (OCR) – Enforcement Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    32 Old Slip, 26th floor
    New York, NY 10005 – 2500
    Telephone: 646-428-3900
    Fax: 646-428-3843
    TDD: 877-521-2172
    Email - OCR.NewYork@ed.gov
    Or:
    New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
    Division on Civil Rights