Procedure for Resolution of General Student Complaints
Students are encouraged to seek informal resolution of complaints with the individual or department with whom the issue is associated. If the result is unsatisfactory to the student or directly approaching the individual or department is inappropriate or unsafe, students may file a formal written complaint by completing the General Complaint and Reporting Form which can also be found on the web pages of Student Affairs, Dean of Students, Student Policy and Procedure Manual, University Police, Student Government Association, and Human Resources. Complaints received through email or direct message on social media will receive a reply with the link to the reporting form and directive to complete that form. Although anonymous complaints will be accepted, this may affect the outcome and resolution or delay the process.
General complaints related to this policy typically involve unfair treatment, generally unequal treatment, substandard physical facility conditions, behavior that a student may feel is unjust or creates unnecessary hardship, or other general concerns that warrant actions and are not included in the exclusions list below which have separate complaint policies and protocols.
Considerations for the process:
- If the official responsible in a particular step is inaccessible for the duration of the days allotted for that step (i.e. vacation, professional travel), a delegate may be assigned to perform duties described herein
- Meetings may be in-person or virtual. The student’s preference should be given priority, but the student should give consideration to using the method that will ensure the process is completed within the allotted time frame(s).
Filing of Initial Complaint
The student must file the complaint within 6 months of the date the alleged incident occurred.
- Once the Form is completed and submitted, it will be routed to the direct supervisor or department head of the individual/department against whom the complaint is filed and that person will contact the student within five (5) working days following the submission of the form to confirm all pertinent information and discuss the process.
- Within ten (10) working days following student contact, the supervisor will do what is necessary to gather information, investigate, or evaluate the complaint including meeting with the person against whom the complaint is filed.
- At the end of the information gathering, the supervisor has five (5) working days to recommend a resolution to the student.
Appeal of Resolution of Initial Complaint
If the student does not agree to a resolution as proposed:
- They may file an appeal to the next University officer in the chain of command within five (5) workdays of the notification of the proposed resolution.
○ In the appeal letter, which must be submitted through the Student Complaint Appeal, the student must state with specificity why they believe the proposed resolution to be unacceptable and why their desired resolution is preferable.
- The appeal will be decided within ten (10) workdays, based on the student’s letter of appeal as well as all notes and documentation produced during the discussions.
○ The appeal officer may speak with all of the parties involved, or with none; however, the appeal officer will not speak with only one of the parties without also speaking with the other(s).
○ A formal notification of the appeal outcome will be sent to the student.
Should the student not find the outcome of the first appeal to be satisfactory, they may continue to the next officer in that chain of command with the same ten (10) day turnaround time with the University President being the final level of appeal. The President may choose to have the President’s Cabinet review the case and submit a recommendation.
The student may appeal the president’s decision to the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System. The Board’s review of the matter will be limited to a determination of compliance with established and appropriate procedures at the institutional level. The final decision will be conveyed to the student in writing from the University President’s office.
Documentation and Record of Process
All documentation throughout the process must be maintained by officials involved and submitted into the Maxient system with the final resolution outcome signed by the student and the last official addressing the case. The Dean of Students office will assist those who do not have direct access to that system.
The student is assured that no retaliatory action will be taken against them for filing and pursuing the resolution of a complaint. All written and otherwise recorded materials relating to the filing and resolution of student complaints are to be considered education records, and, as such, are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (The Buckley Amendment).
The general complaint process does not apply to certain situations that may have specific sets of protocols for response governed by other entities, regulations, or mandates. The list below addresses most of these but should not be considered exhaustive. If you are looking for a particular area that is not on this list, please contact the Dean of Students office for assistance.
Institutional Accountability and Complaint Information
The State of Louisiana and the U. S. Department of Education have mandated that institutions of higher education have in place a specific procedure for the resolution of student complaints. State and federal governments are most interested in complaints that involve: 1) the mismanagement of federal financial aid funds and 2) false representation of programs and courses of study that may appear in an institution’s various publications.
Additionally, Nicholls State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. More information on accreditation can be found on the University’s accreditation page, https://www.nicholls.edu/about/accreditation/.
Although Nicholls State University adheres strictly to all rules and regulations and represents as clearly as possible to students the information pertaining to their education here, students who may have complaints in any of these areas are encouraged to bring them to the University’s attention through the procedure outlined above.