Apr 14, 2024  
Faculty Handbook 2023 - 2024 
    
Faculty Handbook 2023 - 2024

4.4.2 - Procedures for Handling Student Complaints Against Faculty Members


Introduction

From time to time, students may feel that they have legitimate complaints against a faculty member. It is important that they and the accused faculty member have a common understanding of how such complaints may be resolved. To alert students, faculty, and administration to channels available for complaints, the following procedure is presented. This procedure is not applicable to cases involving discrimination or sexual harassment (see KSU catalog, Student Rights and Responsibilities section). This procedure is also not applicable to cases of violation of stated grading policy (see KSU catalog, Academic Policies section). In those instances, the established KSU procedures should be followed. For general guidance in making a complaint, students may utilize the Office of Student Advocacy as an informal resource for assistance.

Procedure

It is the responsibility of the student to bring concerns or complaints for resolution. Complaints against a faculty member should be resolved at the lowest level possible. When a student has a complaint, the student should follow the procedures below in the order stated. Attempts to circumvent the procedure will be redirected to the appropriate level of resolution. For example, the President, Provost, or dean will refer grievants to the faculty member or to the department chair/school director as the first level of resolution.

Informal: Students are encouraged to discuss and resolve a complaint at the lowest possible level. In general, students should talk to the faculty member. In cases where the student is uncomfortable talking to the faculty member, they should talk to the faculty member’s immediate supervisor (the department chair/school director or if the faculty member is a chair/school director, that faculty member’s dean). Informal resolution of a complaint should be attempted prior to filing a formal complaint. Faculty, department chair/school directors, and/or deans are encouraged to be available to students for such discussions so that, if possible, the issue can be resolved informally.

Formal: In situations where such informal resolution does not occur because the student feels uncomfortable discussing the problem with the faculty member or because the discussion with the faculty member, faculty member’s department chair/school director, and/or faculty member’s dean is not successful, the student must follow the process outlined below to file a formal complaint against a faculty member. The appeal must be in writing and describe the precise basis of the appeal. Any pertinent information must be submitted in writing with the appeal in order to be considered in the appeal.

Step 1

The student makes a formal complaint to the faculty member’s department chair/school director.

If the student’s formal complaint against faculty involves behavior that occurred during a course, the complaint must be submitted at the latest within 5 business days after the first day of classes of the next academic term after the academic term in which the student has a complaint. Student complaints regarding final course grades are governed specifically by the Grade Appeal Procedure detailed in the University catalog.

If a student’s formal complaint against faculty is unrelated to behavior that occurred during a course, then the student is encouraged to make the complaint as soon as reasonably possible to allow the department chair/school director to conduct a thorough and impartial review of the complaint. Timely reporting allows for better preservation of witness testimony and other evidence.

The department chair/school director will review the formal complaint, conduct any additional fact-finding, and provide a decision in writing to the student within 15 business days of receipt of the formal complaint.

Step 2

The student may appeal the department chair/school director’s decision by directing his/her complaint, in writing, to the faculty member’s college dean within 15 business days from the date of the chair/school director’s decision. The dean will review the complaint, conduct any additional fact-finding, and provide a decision in writing to the student within 15 business days of the receipt of the formal complaint.

Step 3

The student may appeal the dean’s decision by directing the complaint, in writing, to the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs within 15 business days of receipt of the dean’s decision. The Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs will review the complaint, conduct any additional factfinding, and provide a decision in writing to the student within 15 business days of receipt of the formal complaint.

Step 4

The student may appeal the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs’ decision by directing the complaint, in writing, to the President of the University within 15 business days of receipt of the Provost’s decision. The President will provide a decision in writing to the student. The President’s decision is final.

Just as students may file a written appeal of a decision to the next level, faculty may also appeal a decision, in writing, to the next level of review. The faculty member will receive copies of any written documents produced during the complaint resolution (at any level) and will be given the opportunity to respond to each document within 10 business days of receipt of the document, and the response will be directed to the next level of review. The faculty member will be informed at any point at which written documents concerning the complaint are placed into the faculty member’s personnel file and will be allowed to respond, in writing. Faculty are reminded that KSU policy and Federal law prohibits any form of retaliation against any individual who has been involved in this process (see KSU catalog, Student Rights and Responsibilities, Reaffirmation of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policies section).

Step 5

A student or faculty member aggrieved by the President’s final decision in the matter may apply to the Board’s Office of Legal Affairs (“Legal Affairs”) for a review of the decision. Review of the decision is not a matter of right but is within the sound discretion of Legal Affairs. If granted, the discretionary review is limited to the record from Kennesaw State University’s appeal process. Any petition to Legal Affairs must be submitted in writing to Legal Affairs within a period of 20 calendar days following the decision of the President. Legal Affairs will determine whether the application for review shall be granted.