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Complaints

Complaints

Upon occasion, a student may have a concern that he or she needs help resolving.  If the concern is a final grade, the instructor is the first person to contact.  The full process is described in the Final Grade Appeals section below.  If there is some other issue, the university has a process that assures a prompt resolution.

Salem’s students have the right to be heard and the right to have any issues addressed timely. The university has a strict non-retaliation policy; so, lodging a complaint is not a stigma. While no one likes complaints, the university learns from constructive student feedback and seeks to improve its performance accordingly.

The following steps are to be followed.

Grievances and Complaints Related to Specific Courses

  1. The student will contact his or her current instructor of record listed in the syllabus, either in person or via email, stating the concern as clearly, specifically, and briefly as possible.
  2. The instructor will reply by email within 2 business days with a decision to resolve the matter.
  3. If the student wishes to appeal the instructor’s decision, he or she may submit an appeal to the dean of the school or director of the program by email, which must be completed within 5 business days.
  4. The dean/director will reply by email within 2 business days with a decision with respect to the appeal.
  5. If the student wishes to appeal the dean’s or director’s decision, he or she may appeal to the Provost by email, which must be completed within 5 business days.
  6. The Provost will reply by email within 2 business days with a decision with respect to the appeal.
  7. If the student wishes to appeal the Provost’s decision, he or she may appeal to the President by email, which must be completed within 5 business days.
  8. The President will reply by email within 2 business days with a final decision with respect to the appeal. The President’s decision is final.

Other Grievances and Complaints

  1. The student will contact his or her dean or director, either in person or via email, stating the concern as clearly, specifically, and briefly as possible.
  2. The dean or director will reply by email within 2 business days with a decision to resolve the matter.
  3. If the student wishes to appeal the dean’s or director’s decision, he or she may appeal to the Provost by email, which must be completed within 5 business days.
  4. The Provost will reply by email within 2 business days with a decision with respect to the appeal.
  5. If the student wishes to appeal the Provost’s decision, he or she may appeal to the President by email, which must be completed within 5 business days.
  6. The President will reply by email within 2 business days with a final decision with respect to the appeal. The President’s decision is final.

Exception Processing

If the grievance or complaint involves any person listed above, then the student shall begin with the next higher person listed. For example, if the matter relates directly to the student’s interaction with the dean or director, then the student will begin the process with a statement to the Provost, either in person or by email.

Complaint Resolution for Distance Education Courses

Student complaints regarding Final Grades are handled as specified in Final Grade Appeals. Other complaints are handled as specified in Other Grievance Procedures.

Salem operates in conformance with the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) guidelines. Unresolved complaints resulting from distance education courses may be forwarded to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (WVHEPC), which is West Virginia’s SARA “portal entity.” WVHEPC will investigate and resolve allegations of dishonest or fraudulent activity, including the provision of false or misleading information. The SARA process for resolving complaints is as follows:

  1. Complaints against an institution operating under SARA go first through the institution’s own procedures for resolution of grievances.
  2. Complaints regarding student grades or student conduct violations are governed entirely by institutional policy and the laws of the SARA institution’s home state.
  3. If a person bringing a complaint is not satisfied with the outcome of the institutional process for handling complaints, the complaint (except for complaints about grades or student conduct violations) may be appealed, within two years of the incident about which the complaint is made, to the SARA portal entity in the home state of the institution against which the complaint has been lodged. That entity shall notify the SARA portal entity for the state in which the student is located of receipt of that appealed complaint. The resolution of the complaint by the institution’s home state SARA portal entity, through its SARA complaint resolution process, will be final, except for complaints that fall under the provisions of (g), below.
  4. While the final resolution of the complaint rests with the SARA portal entity in the home state of the institution against which the complaint has been lodged, the portal entity in the complainant’s location state may assist as needed. The final disposition of a complaint resolved by the Home State shall be communicated to the portal entity in the state where the student lived at the time of the incident leading to the complaint, if known to the institution’s Home State.
  5. While final resolution of complaints (for purposes of adjudication of the complaint and enforcement of any resultant remedies or redress) resides in certain cases with institutions (complaints about grades or student conduct violations), or more generally with the relevant institution’s home state SARA portal entity (all other complaints), the regional compact(s) administering SARA may consider a disputed complaint as a “case file” if concerns are raised against a participating state with regard to whether that state is abiding by SARA Policies and Standards. The regional compact may review such complaints in determining whether a state under its purview is abiding by the SARA standards. Similarly, a complaint “case file” may also be reviewed by NC-SARA in considering whether a regional compact is ensuring that its member states are abiding by the SARA standards required for their participation in the agreement.
  6. SARA portal entities shall report quarterly to NC-SARA the number and disposition of complaints that are not resolved at the institutional level. Such data will create transparency and can be used in determining whether a regional compact is ensuring that its SARA member states and those states’ institutions are abiding by the standards required for participation in the agreement.
  7. Nothing in SARA Policies and Standards precludes a state from using its laws of general application to pursue action against an institution that violates those laws.

Final Grade Appeals

Students have the right to appeal their final grades in courses if they believe their grades reflect a capricious, arbitrary, or prejudiced academic evaluation, or reflect discrimination based on race, sex, age, handicap, veteran status, religion or creed, sexual orientation, color, or national origin. The posted grade shall remain in effect until the appeal procedure is completed. The following procedure will be used to handle the appeal.

  • Step 1. The student shall appeal the final grade directly to their instructor within five (5) days after the grade is posted. If the student is not satisfied with the decision, he or she should proceed immediately to Step 2.
  • Step 2. The student shall contact the responsible dean or department head to appeal their final grade by submitting a request in writing or through email. The responsible dean or department head will render a decision within five (5) days. If the student is not satisfied with this decision, he or she should proceed immediately to Step 3.
  • Step 3. The student may request an Academic Appeal Committee be assembled to make a final resolution. This Committee shall consist of three (3) or more faculty members including at least one outside the instructor’s discipline. The Committee will advise the student of the formal resolution and render a decision within five (5) days. The decision of the Committee is final.

This procedure is to be completed within 15 calendar days. If a grade change is approved, the University will ensure the

change is recorded in the student’s official academic record.

To submit a complaint, please contact:

Mrs. Barbara McClain
Executive Assistant to the President
223 West Main Street
Salem, WV 26426
Phone: (304)326-1234
Fax: (304)326-1106
Email: 
complaints@salemu.edu


Please provide the following information about your grievance:

  • Your full name, home address, city, state, zip code, home phone number, and email address;
  • Description of your complaint with as much detail as you are able to provide; and
  • The resolution you are seeking.


You will receive a written reply acknowledging your submission within five (5) business days. This reply will indicate the steps the university is taking to address the matter.

 

You also may make a formal complaint to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission:

West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission
1018 Kanawha Boulevard, East - Suite 700
Charleston, WV 25301
304.558.2101 (phone)
304.558.1011 (fax)

WVHEPC's Student Complaint process is described at:   http://www.wvhepc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Student-Complaint-Process-revised-3.pdf