Student Complaint Process and Notices to Students

A student who has a complaint should bring it forward promptly for resolution.

Grade Complaint Process

 

If the matter concerns a final grade for a course, students should attempt to resolve it informally in discussions with the instructor of record. A final grade is reviewed only when there is a question about whether the grade was calculated in accordance with the requirements and grading procedures stated in the course syllabus. A complaint that is not resolved informally between a student and an instructor should be submitted in writing (email or letter sent by post) first to the appropriate department chairperson and, if still unresolved, to the school dean. The decision of the school dean is final. Problems involving course grades must be brought forward within 45 days of the end of the semester in which the grade was earned.

Academic Grievance Process

Students who have an academic grievance other than a grade should attempt to resolve it informally in discussions with the appropriate instructor, faculty member, or advisor. Examples of this type of grievance or complaint include but are not limited to:

  • failure of faculty to uphold university policies, such as prohibition of smoking in classrooms or prohibition of early completion of semesters
  • failure of an instructor to enforce the Code of Conduct with respect to students in the classroom
  • failure of an instructor to fulfill instructional obligations, such as unjustified cancellation of classes, frequent absenteeism or late arrival, and excessive absences during designated office hours

A complaint that is not resolved informally between a student and a faculty member is to be submitted in writing (email or letter sent by post) to the appropriate department chairperson. If it is not resolved, the complaint may be taken to the school dean. The decision of the school dean regarding the issue(s) of concern is final. A student should bring forward a complaint or problem no later than 45 days from the end of the semester in which the issue occurred.


Disability Grievance Process

Students who believe they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability, or have been denied public access (e.g., services, activities, and/or physical spaces) or accommodations, can use Marymount’s grievance process to resolve that concern/complaint. Depending upon the nature of the complaint listed below, students are encouraged to contact the following university representatives to resolve the issue in-house.

The Office of the Provost if:

  • the student believes that Student Access Services (SAS) inappropriately denied their request for accommodations and would like to appeal that decision. Specifically, the student considers themselves to have a definable and significant impairment that can best be managed if provided accommodations that reduce or remove an identified barrier to their “access.”
  • the student was unable to access a Marymount program or activity due to disability. Public access challenges do not require that students reveal themselves as disabled to SAS and be approved for use of accommodations by SAS. (SAS is focused on providing students with academic-related accommodations.) This access request, then, typically applies to students who need access to public/common areas, such as transit services, event seating, and event communications (e.g., interpreting services).
  • the student believes they have experienced discrimination and/or harassment based on their having a disability or being perceived as having a disability by any person/s on campus.

Student Access Services (SAS) if:

  • the student was approved to use SAS accommodations and believes that the campus individual or unit whose responsibility it was to implement those accommodations fell short of doing so, or did not do so at all. Student accommodations typically include course instruction, student housing, and dining accommodations. This grievance, then, would be against the person who is believed to have not properly implemented the SAS-approved accommodations on behalf of the student.
  • the student believes they experienced a violation of privacy in the context of a disability during their participation or attempt to participate in an academic program or related activity (e.g., housing and dining services).

Filing a Grievance

When submitting a grievance to either the Provost’s Office or SAS, students should include the following information:

  • a clear and concise statement of the problem or issue to be reviewed and a summary of steps taken, if any, by the student to resolve the problem and/or related issue prior to submitting the grievance;
  • a reasonably detailed description of the relevant facts, including the student’s purported disability, names of persons with relevant information, and a description or copies of relevant documents or other evidence related to the grievance. Also, a chronology of events is appreciated; and
  • the name, contact information, and signature of the student initiating the complaint.

Response to a Grievance

Marymount’s response to a grievance typically includes some or all of the following steps:

  • meeting in-person with the student reporting the grievance;
  • contacting those persons who are reported to have caused the grievance to discuss the events giving rise to the grievance;
  • requesting relevant medical documentation or an independent medical evaluation (if not already on hand and if needed) to assess the need for an accommodations appeal;
  • gathering other relevant information through a fact-finding process.

If the Disabilities Review Authority (which is either the Provost’s Office or SAS) determines that a fact-finding process is required (beyond the other steps described above), then the student grievant will be so informed. The Disabilities Review Authority will interview the student grievant and other fact witnesses as necessary and will review documents and other evidence to determine what steps, if any, should be taken on behalf of the complainant. The Disabilities Review Authority may request that an accommodation be provided on a provisional basis pending the conclusion of this fact-finding process, which could take approximately 45 days to complete.

Best efforts will be made to complete the investigation within 45 university working days of receipt of the complaint. If there are circumstances that affect Marymount’s ability to reach fact witnesses and to review documents (e.g., school breaks, the availability of parties with information), the timeline may be extended.

Confidentiality

Marymount will strive to maintain the confidentiality of information shared throughout the grievance process. However, disclosures may be required for the purpose of fact-finding or efforts to resolve the grievance. In the few instances where disclosures must be made, disclosures will be limited to those persons necessary to proceed in the fact-finding process or to otherwise address the grievance.

All persons involved in the student’s grievance will be advised of the importance of confidentiality in the process and asked to maintain the confidentiality of the information discussed during the fact-finding process and the identity of the grievant.

A grievant should understand that where a grievance is specifically directed against one or more specific individuals, the grievance itself or portions of the grievance will be disclosed to the accused individual(s) for purposes of response.

Prohibition Against Retaliation

Marymount prohibits retaliation against any person who requests accommodations, files a grievance alleging disability discrimination, or participates in the grievance process.  Any concerns about retaliation related to this process should be disclosed immediately to the Disabilities Review Authority.

Alternative Avenues for Redress of Grievances

Although all Marymount students may avail themselves of this policy and procedure, students are encouraged to try to resolve matters informally whenever necessary. If a student believes that an informal resolution is possible, even in the context of a filed grievance, the student is encouraged to describe a proposed course to the Marymount Disabilities Review Authority.

While students are encouraged to utilize Marymount’s process toward resolving disability-related complaints (above), all students have a right to file a grievance directly with either or both of entities below:

Arlington County Office of Human Rights
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 318
Arlington, Virginia 22201
Telephone: 703-228-3929
FAX: 703-228-4390
TTY: 703-228-4611

Washington DC (Metro)
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1475
Telephone: 202-453-6020
FAX: 202-453-6021
TDD: 800-877-8339
Email: OCR.DC@ed.gov

Other Grievance Process and Notices to Students

Other grievances or complaints should be addressed to the department or office in which the problem originated. Complaints not resolved at this level may be submitted in writing (email or letter sent by post) to the supervisor for that office. If students are not satisfied with the resolution of the problem by a supervisor, they may refer the concern to the office of the vice president who supervises the area in which the complaint originated. The decision of the vice president regarding the issue(s) of concern is final. Examples of this type of grievance or complaint deal with the following policies or laws: 

  • Consumer Information and Student Achievement: Information for current and prospective students regarding athletics, financial aid, health and safety, and other student issues is also publicly available. This information, along with data on student and alumni achievement, can be found on the Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness website.
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Public Notice Designating Directory Information: FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. Marymount also designates certain information contained in students’ education records as "directory information." Directory information may be disclosed by the university without the student’s prior consent pursuant to the provisions of FERPA. Information for current students regarding FERPA policies and Marymount's Public Notice Designating Directory Information can be found on the Office of the Registrar website.
  • Nondiscrimination Policy: Marymount University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or other protected class in any of its educational programs or activities. Marymount University seeks compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which respectively prohibit discrimination. Inquiries regarding these issues may be directed to the vice president for student affairs and Title IX coordinator. Students who want to file a complaint should contact the vice president for student affairs and Title IX coordinator.

Final Note — Other Grievance Process

In accordance with VAC 40-31-100 of the Virginia Administrative Code, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is responsible for investigating all written and signed complaints against postsecondary educational institutions operating in Virginia. This includes SCHEV oversight of complaints from students taking distance education classes under the aegis of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA). If a student has a complaint and has exhausted the avenues provided by Marymount University to resolve the complaint internally, the student can submit a Student Complaint Form to SCHEV. More details on the formal SCHEV student complaints procedure can be found on the SCHEV website at www.schev.edu.