Academic Grievances and Complaints
Students are free to speak with professors to express concerns about final grades. If a student does not feel his or her professor has resolved the issue satisfactorily, he or she may express in writing a grievance or complaint to the dean. (If the complaint is against his or her dean, the student may appeal directly to the president, as described below.)
Submitting an Inquiry/Complaint to the Office of the President
When the Office of the President receives a formal letter of inquiry/complaint, the president will convene the Administrative Hearing Committee to consider the inquiry/complaint. The Administrative Hearing Committee will conduct an appropriate investigation and will render a written explanation/decision within 30 days of the filing of the inquiry/complaint to both the student who made the complaint and the dean. The office of the vice president will keep a record of all student complaints and documentation of how they were handled. The decision of the president is final.
While the policy and the accompanying procedures are sufficient, they can be complicated by the fact that the president and dean are also active members of the faculty and thus subjects continually focused on their own improvement as both educators and administrators. An informal complaint (no formal complaints have been submitted to date) we received can illustrate a challenge with this process. We had a student complain to the registrar regarding the communication of the dean in one of his classes. The student, who is an ESL learner, complained that he went to registrar because the dean (and president) were both faculty and did not want to deal with faculty directly. The student complained that the faculty member (the dean) did not answer his questions when asked. After an investigation, it was understood that the student meant to say that the answers that the faculty member provided did not sufficiently answer the question the student intended to ask. Though the specifics of the student’s issue are not pertinent to the matter, the chain of complaint has been addressed by a meeting of the Executive Board and additional procedures have been developed as a result.
Agora University takes all complaints very seriously. All complaints are treated in confidence, including those associated with bullying, racial and religious vilification, sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination allegations made by students. The university’s Title IX officer has five (5) working days to resolve the issue (except in the case of Sexual Harassment, see below).
NOTE: These complaints may be formal or informal, where formal complaints are communicated in writing and an informal complaint is one considered to be unwritten.
Registering a Complaint
1) Option One: The complainant may initially raise an informal complaint (unwritten) with the appropriate university official (regularly, the registrar). Following receipt of the informal complaint, the issue will be reviewed by the Dean within three (3) business days and a response will be provided to the complainant within five (5) business days. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Dean may choose to meet with University Vice President or Provost to gain further information and resolution of the complaint raised. The registrar will raise the complaint directly with the Dean if the complaint is perceived to be of an extreme, threatening, or criminal nature.
2) Option Two: In the event that the complainant not be satisfied with the outcome, he/she may submit a formal complaint in writing. As an alternative to the Option One informal complaint, the complainant may opt to go directly to the formal second stage. The formal written complaint must be received by the registrar within 10 business days of the complainant receiving feedback. The formal complaint will be reviewed and addressed within three (3) business days and a response will be provided to the complainant within five (5) business days.
If not satisfied with the decision of the registrar, the complainant may submit the complaint in writing to the Dean within 10 business days of receipt of the formal complaint decision. The complaint will be addressed within 15 business days of receipt of the complaint, and a response will be given within 30 business days. Complaints should be resolved within 30 days of the initial date of response from the Dean.
Filing a Grievance
If the complaint cannot be resolved after exhausting the university’s grievance procedure, the student may file a complaint with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) by calling (888) 370-7589 toll-free or by completing a complaint form, which can be obtained on the bureau’s internet website at http://www.bppe.ca.gov/. The university will not retaliate against the student for submitting a complaint with BPPE.
If the complaint cannot be resolved after exhausting the university’s grievance procedure, the student may file a complaint with the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV). The student may file a written complaint with SCHEV, 101 N. 14th St, James Monroe Building, Richmond, VA 23219 by submitting an online form at the following link: http://www.schev.edu/students/studentcomplaint.asp. The university will not retaliate against the student for submitting a complaint with SCHEV.
Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when a person’s submission to such conduct is implicitly or explicitly made the basis for employment decisions, academic evaluation, grades or advancement, or other decisions affecting participation in a University program (quid pro quo), or when such conduct creates a hostile working environment. When complaints address the matter of sexual harassment, the university will allocate 60 days to investigate the matter.