Student Grievance Process of Academic and/or Administrative Decisions

Southside Virginia Community College is dedicated to a policy which provides that all grievances relating to current and prospective students will be handled fairly and equally without regard to race, color, age, sex, religion, national origin, disability, marital status, veterans status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or other non-merit factors.  

The grievance process applies to academic and non-academic student grievances, including student complaints of unlawful discrimination or unfair treatment. The grievance process applies to complaints arising under any of the following:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974                
  • Age Discrimination Act of 1975
  • Southside Virginia Community College Catalog
  • Southside Virginia Community College Student Handbook
  • Virginia Community College System Policy Manual

Section I. Procedures for Resolving Complaints

Level One

Recognizing that grievances should be raised and settled promptly, a grievance should be raised within thirty (30) business days following the event giving rise to the grievance. As the first step, the student is encouraged to meet and discuss the concern with the person with whom the student has the difference or dispute.  At the meeting, the student must clearly present the facts regarding the grieved issue and the resolution that he or she seeks. The respondent may consult with his/her supervisor, dean or program head at this step in the process. Every reasonable effort should be made to resolve the matter informally at this level.

If the difference or dispute is not resolved, the student with a grievance shall complete a grievance form and submit to the Director of Counseling.   Determination of grievability will be made, by the Director of Counseling. Student Grievance Request Form

A student who alleges harassment or sexual misconduct will not be required to make direct contact with the person alleged to have engaged in such conduct.  In that situation, the student should contact the Director of Counseling, who will discuss with the student her/his right to proceed to Level Two of this procedure.  If a student is alleging sexual misconduct, the student should be referred to Southside Virginia Community College’s policy on sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking (Title IX).

Level Two

If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance at Level One or has been permitted to bypass Level One, the student may submit a written grievance to the appropriate college official within twenty (20) business days.  The appropriate college officials are outlined as follows: 

  1. Academic matters – Dean of Instruction or Director of Workforce Development and Continuing Education for credit courses, Director of Workforce Development and Continuing Education for non-credit courses. Grading would not be grievable unless arbitrary and capricious treatment is shown.
  2. Admissions matters (e.g., recruitment, registration, transfer of credits, academic    suspension/dismissal, etc.) will be heard by the Dean of Enrollment Management.
  3. Student employment (e.g., financial aid recipients) will be heard by the Director of Financial Aid.
  4. Complaints in areas other than 1, 2, and 3 above will be heard by the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.                            
  5. Affirmative Action and ADA complaints will be heard by the Vice President of Finance and Administration.                                  

Within ten (10) business days of receiving the grievance, the dean, supervisor, or other college official will schedule a meeting with both parties in an effort to resolve the grievance. (The meeting may occur after the ten (10) business days, but its date should be established within this time frame.) The role of the decision-maker is to chair the meeting, facilitate the discussion, conduct an adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation, determine whether or not college policies have been violated, and render a decision on the matter. Each party may present witnesses and other evidence. No attorneys or other advisers are allowed to be present to represent either party. No recording will be permitted during the meeting.  The decision-maker may conduct follow-up inquiries after the meeting if necessary. He/she will prepare a written report of the outcome of the grievance within ten (10) business days after the meeting, and will provide copies to the student and the respondent.

Level Three

If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance at Level Two, the student may file a written appeal within ten (10) business days of the determination at Level Two to the Administrative designee or Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs with responsibility for the respondent’s division. The Director of Counseling can assist the student in identifying the appropriate Administrative designee. The Administrative designee will collect relevant information from all parties and review the record of previous actions. If, in the judgment of the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs or Administrative designee, the appeal and record of previous actions have resolved the grievance or do not warrant further action, he/she will notify the student and the respondent within ten (10) business days of receiving the written appeal.

The Administrative designee member’s determination that the grievance does not warrant further action is final.  If, in the judgment of the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs or Administrative designee, the grievance warrants further action, he/she will appoint a Grievance Panel within ten (10) business days of receiving the written appeal. 

For Campuses:

1.  One member of the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs’ staff, who will serve as chair of the panel.

2.   One faculty member, to be selected from a pool of faculty designated at the beginning of each academic year by the Campus Council. In the case of grievances regarding grades, the faculty member on the Grievance Panel must be a member of the teaching faculty.

3.   One student to be selected from a pool of students designated at the beginning of each academic year by the Campus Council.

Within ten (10) business days after the Grievance Panel has been appointed, the chair of the Grievance Panel will set a time and place for a hearing and notify the student and the respondent in writing at least 48 hours prior to the hearing. The hearing will be held within fifteen (15) business days after the Grievance Panel has been appointed, and no later than thirty (30) days after the written appeal has been submitted to the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs or Administrative Council designee member.

The chair of the Grievance Panel is responsible for conducting the hearing in an orderly, efficient and equitable manner. The chair will arrange for the audio recording of the hearing. Either party may have access to the recording upon request.  Both the student and the respondent may have an adviser present at the hearing, however each party must so inform the chair of the Grievance Panel ten (10) business days prior to the hearing. Either party may consult with their own adviser; however, the adviser may not speak for the party or address the members of the panel. The chair of the Grievance Panel may disallow a particular adviser in cases where the adviser might be a witness or where such adviser's presence, in the chair’s sole determination, would be obstructive to the process or for other good cause.

At the Grievance Panel hearing, the student and the respondent will each have the opportunity to present any information relevant to the grievance. The Panel may also request information from other sources. Signed written statements may be submitted by individuals who are unable to attend the hearing. If either party chooses not to attend the hearing, the Panel will consider any written statements the person submits.

The Grievance Panel is responsible for reviewing the grievance in light of College policies and procedures. The Grievance Panel can neither change nor formulate College policies and procedures, nor can it commit state resources. The Grievance Panel will make its decision by simple majority vote. The chair of the Grievance Panel will prepare a written report of the outcome of the hearing and provide it to the student and the respondent within ten (10) business days after the conclusion of the hearing. The decision of the Grievance Panel is final.

Retaliation Prohibited

Retaliation against a grievant or witness for filing or participating in the investigation of a grievance is prohibited. Retaliation is any overt or covert act of reprisal, interference, restraint, penalty,

discrimination, intimidation, or harassment against one or more individuals for exercising their rights (or supporting others for exercising their rights) under this policy. The College will investigate any reports of retaliation and take appropriate disciplinary action.

Confidentiality

All actions taken to resolve grievances through this process will be conducted with as much privacy,

discretion and confidentiality as possible without compromising the thoroughness and fairness of the process. All persons involved are to treat the process with respect.

Grievance Procedure records should be maintained for a five year period.