Grievance Procedures

St. Olaf College provides a grievance procedure process as part of its effort toward treating students fairly in regard to their personal and educational concerns. Any student who believes that an employee of the college has subjected him or her to treatment that violates college policy or practices may seek to have his/her grievance addressed according to these grievance procedures.

Most student complaints against faculty, administrators or other staff are resolved by discussions with the person or group involved. When this approach proves unfruitful or seems undesirable or inappropriate, the grievance procedures are available. Except for complaints of discrimination or harassment, the complaint must be registered within six months of the occurrence of the event cited in the grievance.

Students are encouraged to make complaints of discrimination or harassment immediately after the event complained of, but such complaints will be received at any time (even more than six months after the occurrence of the event). Students making complaints of harassment or discrimination are not required to go through the grievance procedure but may bring their complaints directly to the dean of students office or the director of human resources, for appropriate action by the college.

Complaints regarding student employment issues are not heard through the grievance process but are handled as with other college employee matters. Student employees are encouraged to talk with their supervisors or with human resources about issues of concern. Ultimately, the appropriate vice president has responsibility for final resolution of student employment-related complaints. Complaints of sexual harassment always should be made pursuant to the terms of the college’s sexual harassment policy.

Informal Procedure

  1. Any time a student feels that a faculty member, administrator or other staff member has violated college policy or practice in a way that harms him or her, the student is encouraged to contact the person to discuss the problem and attempt to resolve it.
  2. If no mutually satisfactory solution can be reached, the student is encouraged to discuss the problem with the department chairperson or supervisor of the faculty or staff member and attempt resolution of the problem.
  3. If the problems cannot be resolved in discussions as described above, the student shall contact the vice president of the appropriate division and attempt resolution of the problem.
  4. If the grievance or complaint is not satisfactorily resolved by the vice president’s office at an informal level, the student may file a formal written complaint with the appropriate vice president, who will then determine whether the matter is appropriate for hearing, and, if so, will then form an appropriate Hearing Committee and notify the Hearing Committee of the complaint. If the vice president does not determine the matter is appropriate for hearing, he/she may suggest or arrange other methods of resolving the matter.

Formal Procedure

  1. A copy of the formal complaint shall be sent to the respondent (person against whom the complaint is filed) within eight (8) work days after it is filed. Some variation from this time frame may occur depending on the type of complaint filed or other factors.
  2. The respondent must send a written answer to the appropriate vice president within five (5) work days after receiving a copy of the complaint. If the respondent is out of town when the copy of the complaint arrives, the five (5) work days will commence when the respondent returns to campus and receives the complaint.
  3. The vice president involved will send copies of the complaint and the respondent’s written answer to the hearing committee. Within ten (10) work days of receiving copies of the complaint and the respondent’s answer, the committee will schedule target dates for completion of any investigation into the complaint it may deem necessary. Generally, the investigation should take no more than three (3) weeks’ time. If the committee decides to hold a hearing, the hearing generally should be held within four (4) weeks of the committee’s receipt of the complaint.
  4. The hearing committee will consist of four (4) qualified persons: one faculty member, one administrator and two students selected by the appropriate vice president. The hearing committee will decide whether to conduct a hearing based on the merits of the complaint and based on the information they gather in their investigation (e.g., from the filed papers, investigation and interviews with each party).
  5. Each party to a dispute has the right to have an adviser of his or her choosing from the college (student, staff or faculty member) present at any meeting or hearing held by the committee.
  6. Upon the conclusion of its proceedings, the hearing committee shall recommend to the vice president involved the outcome believed appropriate by the hearing committee. The vice president shall determine the matter.
  7. In some circumstances, legal or other obligations of the college may require that matters submitted for grievance be handled by college administration and its legal counsel, outside the grievance procedure process.
  8. Any party who is not satisfied with the resolution of the dispute may appeal the decision within 30 days to the president.

The right to confidentiality of all members of the college community will be respected in both informal and formal procedures, insofar as possible. Legal or other obligations of the college may, in some circumstances, require investigations or other actions wherein confidentiality requests may not be honored.