Written Student Complaint Policy

General Policy
Rhodes College is committed to addressing all student concerns in a fair and timely manner. For many such concerns, there are existing processes and College employees responsible for addressing such concerns.  Before proceeding with the formal written student complaint policy described below, students should ensure they have checked the Student Concerns section of the Student Handbook.

Students who feel that the established processes did not resolve their concerns adequately may file a written complaint under this policy and should follow the procedures described below. This policy applies to all currently enrolled and formerly enrolled students who have graduated in the past three academic years who wish to file a complaint that falls within the definition of “written student complaint” below and relates to actions or matters that affected the student while the student was enrolled at Rhodes College. An enrolled student is one who has officially matriculated into the College. Individuals taking non-credit courses at the College have not matriculated into the College and are not considered enrolled students. This policy also applies to students on an approved Leave of Absence from the College.  

Definition
As noted above, not every written inquiry or request from a student for College assistance or College action constitutes a written student complaint. Written student complaints typically involve requests for relief or redress after a student has been denied an action or service that the student believes is merited and after the student has exhausted the established procedures (if any) available for addressing the issue. Again, please refer to the Student Concerns section of the Student Handbook for more detail.

For purposes of this policy, a “written student complaint” is one that a student submits in writing (in either paper or electronic format) describing a problem or concern involving some action or inaction by the College, its faculty, or staff requesting a remedial action by the College. The written student complaint should explain the circumstances fully, including specifying: (i) the action, practice, or decision being challenged by the student, (ii) the names of individuals involved in or knowledgeable about the issue, (iii) the impact of the action, practice, or decision on the student, (iv) the resolution or action requested and an explanation of why it should be granted, and (v) current contact information of the student filing the complaint. The written student complaint should also include any relevant documentation that is available. If the complaint does not include these five components listed above, it is not a “written student complaint.” 

The definition of “written student complaint” does not include: (i) the allegation or processing of student disciplinary charges, (ii) routine requests for review of a financial aid package or a determination of satisfactory academic progress for purposes of financial aid eligibility, (iii) routine requests for review of educational records, and (iv) petitions or appeals of academic, disciplinary, or administrative decisions that already have a defined appeal process.

Policy Implementation
The College encourages students to pursue complaints and resolutions through any specialized processes already in place to address the concern. For example, specialized processes exist for challenging academic decisions and these are explained in the Rhodes College Catalogue. Specialized processes also exist for students wishing to make discrimination complaints, which can be raised with Title IX Coordinator or submitted online through the Bias Education Response System (BERS). These specialized complaint processes are often the fastest way to obtain a response from College personnel with expertise in the area relating to the complaint.

If a student chooses to file a written student complaint with the College, they need to submit it to the Vice President of Student Life.  If the complaint does not fall within the purview of the Vice President of Student Life, they will forward it to the appropriate office and will notify the student about which office has responsibility for the complaint. 

Once received by the appropriate office, the written student complaint will be reviewed and a response made. After the written student complaint is received in the appropriate office, a decision on the complaint will be provided as soon as feasible (within 30 days in most cases).

As part of the College’s commitment to administer a process for resolving written student complaints fairly, the College will maintain a log of written student complaints received under this policy and their resolutions; the log will be available for review by the College’s regulators and accreditors.

The log will include elements such as the following:
•    Identification of student submitting written complaint
•    Student status (Undergraduate, Graduate)
•    Type of complaint (Academic, Nonacademic)
•    Date received
•    Responsible office for resolving complaint
•    Name of person entering record
•    Nature of complaint
•    Resolution/Outcome/Decision
•    Date complaint closed
•    Confirmation of written notification of disposition
•    Other comments
Each office that receives written student complaints must keep records of these complaints and their resolutions, as well as ensure that log data (above) is entered in Rhodes College’s “Official Record of Written Student Complaints” maintained by Office of Student Life.