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Grievance Procedures

It is the policy of Bridgewater College that students should have an accessible process to bring problems or complaints to the attention of the College for review and resolution. The College has separate and specific policies with procedures to address (a) allegations of harassment or discrimination, (b) concerns related to academic issues, and (c) allegations of sexual misconduct (addressed in a separate section (.pdf) of this handbook). In addition, the College has a general grievance process to address other complaints a student may have regarding the conduct of another student or a faculty or staff member. Any student seeking redress for a perceived grievance must utilize one of the procedures identified in this handbook.

In addition the grievance procedures, there are resources both on and off campus available to provide support services to students seeking redress for a grievance.

On campus:

Off Campus:

  • Crime Victim Assistance Info-Line – 888-887-3418
  • Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education – 800-421-3481; OCR.DC@ed.gov
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture – 866-632-9992; program.intake@usda.gov

Academic Grievance Procedure

The College recognizes that problems will occasionally arise between students and faculty regarding academic issues, including disputes regarding grades awarded. This academic grievance policy is intended to address those concerns. The primary objective of the policy is to ensure that students have the opportunity to present grievances regarding actions of members of the faculty and that the College has a consistent process for resolving those grievances in a fair, confidential and just manner.

Informal Resolution

The first step is for the student to attempt to resolve the grievance informally by discussing it with the faculty member. The discussion should take place within a reasonable time of the action of the faculty member with which the student takes issue. If the matter is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction at this level, the student should discuss the grievance with the faculty member’s department chair within five (5) days of receiving the response from the faculty member. The department chair will meet with the student and, as appropriate, the faculty member, and reach a decision, which will be communicated to the student. Generally, no record will be maintained regarding a grievance resolved informally.

Formal Resolution

If the matter is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction at this level, the student may request review by the appropriate division head by submitting a written statement to the division head within thirty (30) days of the action of the faculty member with which the student takes issue. The statement should include an explanation of the problem and a description of the desired resolution. The division head will then meet with the student to discuss the grievance, and, as appropriate, the faculty member. After reviewing all relevant information, the division head will inform the student in writing of his/her decision regarding the grievance.

If the decision of the division head does not resolve the matter to the student’s satisfaction, the student may request further review by submitting a statement of the problem in writing to the associate dean for academic affairs within five (5) days after the date of the division head’s decision. The statement should include an explanation of the problem and a description of the desired resolution, along with a copy of the division head’s decision. It is within the sole discretion of the associate dean whether to accept the student’s request for review of the grievance. The decision of the associate dean is final.

Documentation of Grievances

Records related to grievances under this policy will be maintained by the office of the associate dean for academic affairs.

Harassment and Discrimination Grievance Procedure

This procedure is available for any student who believes that he or she has been harassed or discriminated against by any member of the College community based on the student’s race, color, national or ethnic origin, marital status, disability, religion, age, veteran status, or political affiliation. Allegations of sexual misconduct, including harassment and discrimination based on sex, gender identity or expression, and sexual orientation, are addressed in a separate policy (.pdf).

Informal Resolution

Any student that believes that he or she has been harassed or discriminated against is encouraged, but not required, to discuss their concerns directly with the person or persons involved, either in person or in writing. If a student is uncomfortable directly discussing her or his concern with the involved individual(s) or, after discussing it, believes that the concern is not adequately resolved, the student may utilize the formal process described below. Generally, no record will be maintained regarding a grievance resolved informally.

Formal Resolution

A student may file a formal grievance regarding an allegation of harassment or discrimination by a student or a faculty or staff member, by written notification (which may be in an electronic format) to the director of student conduct, if the act or omission giving rise to the grievance relates to conduct by a student(s), or the director of human resources, if the act or omission giving rise to the grievance relates to conduct by a college employee(s). The grievance must be filed within thirty (30) days following the act or omission giving rise to the grievance.

A student must include the following information in the notification:

  • Name and phone number of the person filing the grievance
  • The name(s) of the individual(s) or office against which the grievance is being alleged
  • A detailed description of the act or omission serving as the basis for the grievance (to include how the student has been harmed or treated unfairly) and what the student believes would be a fair and equitable resolution
  • The date or period of time that the action occurred
  • A list of any other people who were either involved or witnessed the action

Once notified, the director of student conduct or the director of human resources, as the case may be, will seek to help the student resolve the grievance informally, if possible. If an informal resolution is not accomplished, the procedure described below will be followed.

If the allegation relates to conduct by another student, the grievance will be reviewed and resolved pursuant to the College’s existing student conduct procedures, including any appeal process provided in those procedures.

If the allegation relates to conduct by an employee of the College, the director of human resources or designee will investigate the allegation and determine an appropriate resolution within a reasonable timeframe. The director of human resources will inform the appropriate vice president of the nature of the grievance and of progress in resolving the grievance. The resolution of the grievance will be communicated to the student who asserted the grievance, the person whose alleged conduct gave rise to the grievance, and the appropriate vice president. Disciplinary action imposed under this paragraph, if any, may include a requirement not to repeat or continue the offending conduct, separation of the parties, attendance at relevant education programs, reprimand, reassignment, denial of pay increase, demotion, suspension, or termination of employment with the College. The decision of the director of human resources or designee is final and there is no appeal from the decision.

While all grievances are handled discreetly, the student asserting a grievances should understand that the College cannot guarantee confidentiality in the investigative and resolution process. College action and legal action (criminal or civil) are not mutually exclusive, and a student may pursue all remedies available to the student.

It is a violation of College policy for anyone to retaliate against any person asserting a grievance or against any person cooperating in the investigation of (including testifying as a witness to) any grievance. For these purposes, “retaliation” includes intimidation, threats or harassment against any complainant, respondent, or third party. Retaliation should be reported promptly to campus police and safety or the department of student life and may result in disciplinary action independent of the sanction or interim measures imposed in response to the underlying allegations.

Documentation of Grievances

The office of the director of student conduct or the office of the director of human resources, as the case may be, will maintain records related to grievances under this policy, as appropriate.

General Student Grievance Procedure

The general student grievance policy is intended to provide students with an opportunity to seek resolution for issues not covered by other policies. The procedures in this policy may not be used to challenge disciplinary or honor council decisions, appeals for which are addressed in other policies.

Informal Resolution

Students are encouraged, but not required, to discuss their concerns directly with the person or persons involved, either in person or in writing. If a student is uncomfortable directly discussing the concern with the involved individual(s) or, after discussing it, believes that the concern is not adequately resolved, the student may utilize the formal process described below. Generally, no record will be maintained regarding a grievance resolved informally.

Formal Resolution

A student may file a formal grievance regarding an allegation of misconduct by another student or a faculty or staff member according to the procedure outlined below. The grievance must be submitted in writing (which may be in an electronic format) to the director of student conduct, if the act or omission giving rise to the grievance relates to conduct by a student(s), or the director of human resources, if the act or omission giving rise to the grievance relates to conduct by a college employee(s). The grievance must be filed within ten (10) business days following the act or omission giving rise to the grievance.

Students must include the following information in the notification:

  • Name and phone number of the person filing the grievance
  • The name(s) of the individual(s) or office against which the grievance is being alleged
  • A detailed description of the act or omission serving as the basis for the grievance (to include how the student has been harmed or treated unfairly) and what the student believes would be a fair and equitable resolution
  • The date or period of time that the action occurred
  • A list of any other people who were either involved or witnessed the action

A grievance asserted regarding the conduct of a student will be reviewed and resolved pursuant to the College’s existing student conduct procedures, including any appeal process provided in those procedures.

If the allegation relates to conduct by an employee of the College, the director of human resources or designee will investigate the allegation and determine an appropriate resolution within a reasonable timeframe. The director of human resources will inform the appropriate vice president of the nature of the grievance and of progress in resolving the grievance. The resolution of the grievance will be communicated to the student who asserted the grievance, the person whose alleged conduct gave rise to the grievance, and the appropriate vice president. Disciplinary action imposed under this paragraph, if any, may include a requirement not to repeat or continue the offending conduct, separation of the parties, attendance at relevant education programs, reprimand, reassignment, denial of pay increase, demotion, suspension, or termination of employment with the College. The decision of the director of human resources or designee is final and there is no appeal from the decision.

While all grievances are handled discreetly, the student asserting a grievance should understand that the College cannot guarantee confidentiality in the investigative and resolution process. College action and legal action (criminal or civil) are not mutually exclusive, and a student may pursue all remedies available to the student.

It is a violation of College policy for anyone to retaliate against any person asserting a grievance or against any person cooperating in the investigation of (including testifying as a witness to) any grievance. For these purposes, “retaliation” includes intimidation, threats or harassment against any complainant, respondent, or third party. Retaliation should be reported promptly to campus police and safety or the department of student life and may result in disciplinary action independent of the sanction or interim measures imposed in response to the underlying allegations.

Documentation of Grievances

The office of the director of student conduct or the office of the director of human resources, as the case may be, will maintain records related to grievances under this policy, as appropriate.

Sexual Misconduct/Title IX

Bridgewater College is committed to providing all students with an educational environment free from discrimination. Learn more about our sexual assault policy and procedures.

Questions Regarding Grievance Procedures?

Dr. Leona A. Sevick
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
lsevick@bridgewater.edu

Dr. Leslie M. Frere
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students
lfrere@bridgewater.edu

Roy Ferguson
Executive Vice President
rferguso@bridgewater.edu