Student Complaint Procedure (Non-Academic Grievance for Students)
The purpose of the Student Complaint Procedure is to provide a process for students, both undergrad and graduate, to seek resolution of disputes and complaints that do not fall within the scope of one of the other complaint procedures.
When to Use the Student Complaint Procedure
At North Park University, there are a number of complaint procedures through which students can raise and seek redress for what they believe to be unfair, improper or discriminatory decisions, actions, or treatment. North Park takes all complaints seriously and follows the appropriate policy.
This complaint procedure may not be invoked for matters that have independent appeal processes established. Examples of these include, but are not limited to:
1. If the matter involves an academic decision, the Student Academic Grievance Procedure applies. (Found in the Student Handbook.)
2. If the matter involves a housing or roommate concern, the Student Housing Grievance Procedure applies. (Found in the Student Handbook.)
3. If the matter involves discrimination, harassment, bias and/or sexual assault, the Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Violence, Relationship Violence or Retaliation applies and takes precedence over other complaint procedures that may also apply (e.g., a roommate is accused of sexual harassment).
4. If the matter involves a parking violation, the Parking Violations Appeals process applies.
5. If the matter involves a violation of the policies and community standards in the Student Handbook, then the Student Conduct process applies. (Found in the Student Handbook.)
6. If the matter involves financial aid due to academic progress, the Satisfactory Academic Progress process applies.
7. If the matter involves financial aid award package, the Financial Aid Appeal process applies. (Found in the Academic Catalog.)
If there is no specific procedure already in place, the Student Complaint Procedure may be utilized to formally identify the issue or dispute and seek its resolution. The process is outlined below. Complaints challenging decisions or actions by a vice president, provost, or dean (for which no other specific complaint or appeal process is provided) proceed directly to Step 4.
Examples of actions that may be grieved under this policy:
- Denial of disability accommodations
- Claims involving the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
- Policy or procedure applied unfairly and/or in a different manner than it was applied to others
- Administrative error in the application of the policy or procedure
Examples of actions which are not subject to the Student Complaint Procedure:
- To contest an instructor’s evaluation of academic performance
- Academic probation, disqualification, or other academic decisions by a department, college, or the university
- University student conduct action
- Academic dishonesty allegations
- Parking citations
- Debt to the University
- Retaliation for making a complaint under any University Policy
- Federal and State Laws
- Employment and personnel decisions
- Policies of the Board of Trustees
The aggrieved student must first confer with the staff member, faculty member, or student involved in an attempt to resolve the problem. If the student is not comfortable with first addressing the staff or faculty member you may skip to Step 2. You may also choose to report any non-academic complaint through the Report an Incident Student Form in the self-referral system (EARS).
Using the Self-Referral System (EARS)
- Log in to the portal using your North Park username and password. Do not include “@northpark.edu.”
- Once you arrive at the “Launchpad” click the life vest icon labeled “Ask for Help.”
- You’ll be taken to a page called “New Referral.” Fill out the section titled “Your Information,” and in the “Relationship to Student” field, select “Self.” In the section titled “Referral” click the drop-down and select “Report an Incident – Student Form.”
- Fill out each field with as much detail as possible to give the case manager enough information to properly address your complaint.
- Click the button “Submit Referral” to complete your complaint report.
Unresolved complaints shall be filed in writing by the student with the appropriate staff or faculty member’s supervisor and/or human resources. In the case of a complaint against a student, the written complaint shall be presented to the dean of students. In consultation with the assistant vice president of human resources, dean of students and/or the supervisor, an inquiry will be conducted and an attempt to resolve the matter impartially and as quickly as possible. This step is generally concluded within ten (10) business days of the date the complaint was received.
If the student is dissatisfied with the prior decision, the student can present the complaint, in writing, to the vice president, provost, or dean, as appropriate. The complaint should be presented promptly and in no event, later than five business days after the Step 2 decision. The complaint must summarize the decision, action, or other matter being grieved and explain why it is being challenged. Copies of any related documentation shall be attached. The vice president, provost, or dean receiving the complaint, or a designee to whom they assign responsibility for resolving the complaint, will conduct any investigation deemed necessary, including joint meetings among the student grievant, the person who is the subject of the complaint, if any, and a University official responsible for any policy or procedure at issue. In the event of a meeting, both the grievant and any person who is the subject of the complaint may request the assistance and presence of another member of the North Park University Community. The appropriate vice president, provost, dean or designee will promptly render a decision.
If the student is dissatisfied with the decision at Step 3, the student may appeal to the president of the University. The appeal must be made no later than five business days after the prior decision and shall be in writing. The appeal must summarize the decision, action, or other matter at issue, explain why it is being challenged, and describe any prior steps of the complaint process, including the determination. Copies of any related documentation shall be attached. The president shall determine the appeal based upon the record presented, and any additional investigation the president deems appropriate. The decision of the president shall be final and binding.
Every effort will be made to settle complaints promptly. Time limitations specified in this policy may be extended by written mutual agreement. If there is no written mutual agreement to extend the time limits, and if the student fails to appeal to the next level within the specified time limits, the complaint will be deemed settled on the basis of the last decision rendered. If the University fails to act on a complaint or to notify the student of the decision at any level within the specified time limits, the student will be permitted to appeal to the next level within the time that would have been allotted had the decision been communicated within the appropriate time limit.
Retaliation is defined as adverse action against an individual who has (1) complained about alleged Prohibited Conduct or otherwise utilized a complaint procedure created by the University, (2) participated as a party or witness in an inquiry, investigation, or hearing relating to such allegations or complaint, or (3) participated as a party or witness in a court proceeding or administrative investigation relating to such allegations. Retaliation by any member of the campus community, including students, faculty, and staff, is prohibited by state and federal law and violates North Park Policy. Retaliation is strictly prohibited.
Interim measures may be available to the complainant. Interim measures are temporary measures to ensure the integrity of the process and to safeguard the complainant and the University community. Such measures may include changes to academic, living, transportation, or working situations and limiting or suspending access to University facilities and events or regulating continued interaction between the complainant and the subject of the complaint. If the complainant wishes to explore the possibility of interim measures, one should contact the dean of students or assistant vice president of human resources.
Students should complete North Park’s internal complaint process before seeking external resolution of the issue. External agencies may refer complaints back to the University if the student has not gone through the University’s process.
In accordance with the Higher Learning Commission Policy FDCR.A.10.030 – Institutional Records of Student Complaints, North Park University has established the above outlined student complaint procedures. North Park University is required by law to share information about the complaints with its accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; however, individual identities will not be revealed without the express permission of the complainant or as required by law.
The Dean of Students Office will annually review the data to identify any trends/issues that warrant further investigation, revision to existing policies, etc.
Should a student wish to file their complaint with a regulatory agency, the contact information is listed below. Please note that these offices will require that a student first seek resolution directly with the institution by following the defined complaint or grievance policy.