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SACS Federal Requirement 4.5

Federal Requirement 4.5: The institution has adequate procedures for addressing written student complaints and is responsible for demonstrating that it follows those procedures when resolving student complaints.

Judgment of Compliance

X Compliance

Compliance Narrative

General Student Complaints

The Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs receives written student complaints and determines appropriate referrals depending on the nature of the matter. There are established and published policies and procedures designed to handle these complaints: the Grievance Procedures, the Sexual Harassment Policy, and the Community Standards Process.

Grievance Procedures

The University has established Grievance Procedures which are outlined in the hardcopy and on-line Student Resource Handbook. An excerpt from these procedures states: "It is the policy of Clayton State University to provide equal opportunity and fair treatment to all students and applicants for admission without regard to race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the University is concerned with the prompt and fair resolution of the concerns of students. The procedures below have been formulated to ensure fairness and consistency in the University's relations with its students. No person's status with Clayton State University shall be adversely affected in any way as a result of using these procedures, nor shall any retaliatory actions be taken against a person using these procedures."

There have been few grievances filed through this process since the procedure was implemented 1996. These cases have been resolved informally, as is provided for by the first step of the policy.

Sexual Harassment Policy

This policy is intended to provide a mechanism to protect the rights of claimants and respondents at Clayton State University and to affirm and support an environment in which the university is free of sexual harassment through the protection of these rights and the standardization of practices. The policy is located both online and in print through the Student Resource Handbook.

Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures

The conduct code outlines university behavior standards, including student rights, responsibilities and appeal procedures. An excerpt from the Foreword of the Student Resource Handbook states: "This student handbook is an official statement of student policies and procedures for the University. It contains a listing of the conduct code, rules, regulations, policies, and procedures which provide for the orderly operation of the University. These rules provide a basic, positive government of the University community, including its academic life, its academic and social organizations, and its student life." Student complaints concerning the behavior or conduct of another student or students may, upon investigation by the University Conduct Officer, be handled through the Community Standards process. Standards of conduct (Student Code of Conduct) and adjudication procedures are outlined in the online and printed Student Resource Handbook as well as on the Office of Community Standards website (see links below). Documentation of practice of these policies and procedures is demonstrated in the attached case examples. Student disciplinary records are maintained in accordance with the retention of records standards set by the University System of Georgia and the federal Higher Education/Clery Act.

Course Grade Appeals

Academic Affairs addresses student complaints regarding educational matters (generally grade disputes) and relating to administrative offices such as Recruitment and Admissions, Financial Aid, and the Registrar's Office. Once all parties involved understand the facts and policies that apply to the case, most complaints can be handled informally and in a collegial manner. Academic Affairs goes to great lengths to ensure that students are aware of the policies that can impact their academic progress; these are presented at orientation (with the most important policies included in the orientation booklet), discussed at advising sessions, and sent out via e-mails reminding students of various policies and procedures each semester. When complaints arise, the administration and faculty of Clayton State University work diligently to ensure that all students are treated fairly and are accorded due process. Most of the complaints that occur within Academic Affairs fall under the Grade and Academic Appeal Procedures policy found in the Student Handbook.

Most of the time, faculty members resolve complaints about grades informally, often in concert with a department chair. When the student is unhappy with the decision, he or she is encouraged to file a formal complaint with the dean. Similarly, most complaints involving Academic Affairs offices are resolved by the directors of those offices. However, when students are not satisfied with how their complaint has been handled by the directors, they can appeal the decision to the office of Academic Affairs. In cases where an informal resolution of the complaint is not achieved, the student is asked to file a formal written appeal. The Provost may then convene the Academic Appeal Board. Dr. Mark May, Dean of Retention and Student Success, has been the Chair of the Academic Appeal Board for the past four years. The members of the Committee include the chair, one faculty member appointed by each Dean, and the Judicial Affairs Officer. The membership of the committee is shown in the table below.

Academic Appeal Board (meets as convened)

College/School/Office 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Arts and Sciences J. Yvette Gardner J. Yvette Gardner Mario Norman Mario Norman
Information and Mathematical Sciences Junfeng Qu Junfeng Qu Christopher Raridan Christopher Raridan
Profession Studies Zi Wan Zi Wan Sherry King n/a
Business David Furman David Furman David Furman David Furman
Health Ebony Parker Charlene Romer Eunice Warren Lilian Parker
Judicial Affairs Jeff Jacobs Jeff Jacobs Jeff Jacobs Jeff Jacobs

An example of an appeal coming before the Academic Appeals Board involving a nursing student (referred to as AG) is provided in the supporting documentation below. This student appealed a grade that resulted in her dismissal from the nursing program. The School of Nursing provides its students with a handbook that outlines the policies that pertain to continuation in the School of Nursing (see Nursing Conduct Policy below). In addition, the School of Nursing website provides students with the following information about the School of Nursing Handbook:

"This Nursing Student Handbook is designed to guide your progression through the nursing curriculum and should be maintained throughout the program as a reference. The policies, guidelines and resources contained in this handbook serve to guide the practice of the School of Nursing. They are consistent with, and expand upon, those of Clayton State University. Policies of Clayton State, as well as a list of student rights and responsibilities, are outlined in the Clayton State University Student Handbook - see appendix A for acknowledgment of receipt form. All specific course policies and standards will accompany the course syllabus."

Supporting Documentation and Links

Student Affairs Document and Example

Grievance Policy

Student Handbook

Student Code of Conduct

Disciplinary Procedures

Office of Community Standards

Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures Examples

  • Case 1 (a copy of this case is available from the Office of Community Standards)
  • Case 2 (a copy of this case is available from the Office of Community Standards)

Academic Affairs Documentation and Example

Grade and Academic Appeal Procedures (from Student Handbook)

Nursing Conduct Policy (from Nursing Student Handbook)

Nursing Progression Policy (from Nursing Student Handbook)

Grade and Academic Appeal Procedures Example

  • Case 1(a copy of this case is available from the Dean of Retention & Student Success)