Student Equal Opportunity Grievance Procedure

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A student equal opportunity grievance is a complaint related to education or student life at the College in which the student claims discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or any other legally protected status. Students should feel free to consult the College‘s equal opportunity officer at any time, informally and confidentially, about an equal opportunity grievance or about the equal opportunity grievance procedure.

This grievance procedure applies to all students of Swarthmore College. A student who wishes to have an equal opportunity complaint resolved by the College is required to follow this procedure. The objective of the procedure is to resolve any claim of discrimination as quickly as possible.

All members of the college community have a right to free academic inquiry and expression as articulated in the section on "Academic Freedom and Responsibility" in [the Student Handbook]. Neither acts of discrimination nor claims of alleged discrimination shall be used to abridge that right.

For an equal opportunity grievance involving a claim of discrimination with respect to traditional areas of academic freedom: academic standards, course requirements and content, teaching procedures, or grades, the procedure described in the Handbook for Instructional Staff (page II-A-3) under ―Conventions of the College Community: The Classroom‖ which has as its stated purpose ―to foster the academic freedom of all members of its [the College‘s] community,‖ shall apply. A question as to which procedure applies—the Handbook for Instructional Staff procedure or the general student equal opportunity grievance procedure (see below)—shall be resolved by the provost after consultation with the equal opportunity officer. The Handbook for Instructional Staff procedure is as follows:

Students are free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for meeting the standards of any course of study in which they may be enrolled. Members of the faculty are solely responsible for establishing and maintaining the academic standards of the courses they teach. Students who strongly believe they have been evaluated capriciously or with prejudice are free to bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate department chair, or if necessary, the provost. Final judgment, however, must remain with the instructor.

If, in such a case, discrimination is claimed, any of the participants should feel free to consult the Equal Opportunity Officer. The Equal Opportunity Officer may attempt to resolve the grievance informally by means of individual or group discussion with the participants. If the case reaches the provost, the provost will consult the Equal Opportunity Officer as well as the participants.

For any student equal opportunity grievance, the general student equal opportunity grievance procedure below shall apply.

The Procedure

Step 1:

The student must discuss the grievance with the Equal Opportunity Officer, a dean, the Provost, or Human Resources personnel, as soon as possible, and no later than thirty days after the grievance arises or becomes known. The EO Officer may then identify others whom the student should consult, such as a dean or a department chair. The student may request a
reasonable extension of any time limit in Steps 1 through 5. The request must be made to the EO Officer before the time limit expires. The EO Officer will grant or deny the extension in writing.

Step 2:

The student must attempt to resolve the grievance informally. The EO Officer will consult with the student to determine appropriate methods of resolution This may include counseling, training, mediation, or any other method appropriate to aid in resolving the complaint.

Step 3:

The EO Officer will note whether agreement on a resolution of the grievance is reached during Step 2‘s required meeting, and will so notify the participants in writing. If the student wishes to pursue the grievance, he or she shall, within thirty days of receiving the EO Officer‘s notification, give the EO Officer a written statement. The statement should indicate the nature of the grievance, the evidence on which it is based, the solution sought, and the handling of the grievance to date.

Step 4:

The EO Officer will consult the Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee (EOAC) to determine whether the grievance is a policy issue or an individual grievance.
Procedure for Policy Issues

Step 5:

If the EO Officer and EOAC conclude that, although the grievance involves a policy issue, it is not an equal opportunity grievance or is lacking in merit, the EO Officer will not pursue it and will so notify the student in writing. The procedure will then continue with Step 8. If the EO Officer and EOAC conclude that the grievance involves a policy issue, is an equal opportunity grievance, and is not lacking in merit, the EO Officer will consult appropriate administrators concerning the current college policy. The EO Officer will then notify the president in writing of the policy issue raised by the grievance and, in consultation with EOAC, may recommend to the President changes in policy. The procedure will then continue with Step 6 (Policy Issue).

Step 6:

The President will promptly initiate procedures to provide for an appropriate review of the policy in light of the EO Officer‘s recommendation to the President which may include a remedy for the student. The procedure will then continue with Step 7.

Procedure for Individual Grievances

Step 5:

If the EO Officer concludes that an individual grievance is not an equal
opportunity grievance or is lacking in merit, the EO Officer will not pursue it and will so notify the student in writing.

If the EO Officer concludes that the individual grievance is an equal opportunity grievance and is not lacking in merit, the EO Officer may attempt to resolve it, consulting anyone except the President. If the grievance is not resolved, the EO Officer will so notify the participants in writing.

In either case, the student may pursue an individual grievance by initiating Step 6 (Individual Grievance) within fifteen days of receiving the EO Officer‟s notification.

Step 6:

To pursue an individual grievance, the student must submit the grievance in writing (with the EO Officer‟s assistance, if requested) to the chair of the Expanded College Judiciary Committee (ECJC).

The ECJC shall consist of the six members of the College Judiciary Committee, and the two student members and the two faculty members of the Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee (EOAC), with the chair of CJC serving as ECJC chair. In a case in which the grievance involves staff only, two of the three staff members of EOAC (chosen by the chair of ECJC) will replace the faculty members. Members of the ECJC are expected to decline to participate in a case in which they deem themselves disqualified for bias or interest, and the chair of ECJC will appoint substitutes for that case. A quorum of ECJC must be present for a formal ECJC meeting or hearing to take place. A quorum shall consist of at least eight members, of whom at least four must be members of CJC and at least two must be members of EOAC.

ECJC will hear a grievance only if either its chair or at least three of its members are persuaded that it is an equal opportunity grievance and is not lacking in merit. ECJC will conduct its hearing and formulate a recommendation under the rules which govern the procedures of CJC. ECJC will submit its recommendation to the President and to the student, in writing. The letter to the student will state that the recommendation is not final, but is subject to review and modification, as described in Step 7.

Step 7:

The President may order a legal review of a recommendation resulting from Step 6. The President will either accept the recommendation, return it to the recommender(s) for modification, or modify it after consultation with the recommender(s). The President will inform the student, the EO Officer, and, in the Case of a policy issue, EOAC, of the president‘s final decision, in writing.

Step 8:

If the student is not satisfied with the final decision regarding the grievance and wishes to pursue the matter further, he or she may request information from the EO Officer about any appropriate state or federal agencies.

Conclusion

The procedure is provisional, to be used for handling equal opportunity grievances for three semesters after its publication. At the end of three semesters (or, at the discretion of the EO Officer, if earlier), the procedure will be reassessed by the EO Officer and the Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee in consultation with appropriate administrators, Student Council, and representatives of the College Judiciary Committees. If modifications of the procedure appear necessary, EOAC will recommend them to the President, the Committee on Faculty Procedures, and Student Council.