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Formal Complaint Process

Mesalands Community College encourages resolution of formal complaints in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Retaliation for any formal complaint is not tolerated. The formal complaint process is applicable to all students and should be followed in all cases when informal resolution is not enough to resolve the issue.

While anonymous formal complaints are accepted, doing so may limit the College’s ability to investigate and respond to a formal complaint. Information concerning the nature, scope, evaluation and resolution of formal complaints shall be confidential to the greatest extent possible and shared only with those persons who have a need to know.

A formal complaint is a request for the resolution of a problem, conflict, concern, or issue that adversely affects a student(s). Student formal complaints may include, but are not limited to, issues regarding classroom instruction, College policies, procedures, services and offices. To file formal complaints the College’s formal complaint form must be used.

Formal complaints that involve discrimination and sexual/sexual harassment are addressed under Title IX and are handled separately from the processes described below. Should you wish to report a Title IX related incident, please contact Mesalands Community College’s Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Aaron Kennedy at (575) 461-4413 or use Mesalands Community College’s online reporting form. If you would like more information about Title IX, please go to our What is Title IX page.

Formal complaints involving grades where the final course grade is disputed and/or the student believes that the final grade is not indicative of his/her academic performance are addressed by the grade appeal process which is described in detail Mesalands Community College’s Catalog.

Filing a Formal complaint – Non Faculty Related

A. Informal Resolution

Students are encouraged to resolve any concern by first speaking with the staff member, administrator, and his/her supervisor if necessary. Assistance is available from the Vice President of Student Affairs. Prompt reporting of all formal complaints is critical and essential, as it is often difficult to trace the facts of an incident or incidents long after they have occurred. Students are advised that a formal complaint will be most effectively addressed if the formal complaint is brought forward within sixty (60) College business days of the alleged incident. Students must complete each step in the process before proceeding to the next one.

B. Filing a Formal complaint

A formal complaint is a request for assistance with a problem, conflict, concern, or issue that negatively impacts students that could not be addressed by informal resolution with the staff member, administrator, and his/her supervisor.

Formal complaints are reported using Mesalands Community College’s online formal complaint form. When completing the online form, a student may choose to remain anonymous. Although, anonymous formal complaints are allowed, doing so may limit the College’s ability to investigate and respond to a formal complaint. Mesalands Community College’s Student Formal Complaint Processes complaints are forwarded to the appropriate administrator responsible for the individual, process, or department involved. Documentation of the formal complaint should include:

  • A detailed description of the issue and adverse impact
  • The date, time, and place of the event(s) pertaining to the formal complaint
  • The name and contact information for any witnesses with knowledge of the formal complaint or subject of the formal complaint
  • Specific details regarding the instance(s) of non-compliance with the policy or procedure applicable
  • A proposed solution or action
  • If the formal complaint is not a violation of policy, law or standard practice guideline, the appropriate campus Vice President will assist the complainant in resolving the issue with the appropriate college resource, employee, or employee group (i.e. human resources, supervisor, and campus designated contact person).

If the formal complaint demonstrates a violation, or potential violation of policy or standard practice guideline, the appropriate campus Vice President will begin a formal resolution process. This process could include investigation and/or coordination with appropriate College contacts.

C. Appeal/Due Process

The student may appeal to the divisional Vice President within five (5) College business days of the completion of the formal resolution.

The divisional Vice President will review appeal documentation submitted by the student and the documentation produced by the area level administrator’s investigation and communicate an appeal decision within five (5) College business days of receipt of the student’s appeal. The appeal decision is sent to the student.

The appealed formal complaint decision is not subject to further appeals.  

Faculty-Related Formal complaints – Non Grade Related

A. Initial Formal complaint/Informal Resolution

The student should discuss the formal complaint with the faculty member, or the faculty member’s supervisor. Should resolution not be reached, the student may file a formal complaint against the faculty member. Formal complaints must be filed using Mesalands Community College’s online formal complaint form.

Prompt reporting of all formal complaints is critical and essential, as it is often difficult to trace the facts of an incident or incidents long after they have occurred. Students are advised that a formal complaint will be most effectively addressed if the concern or formal complaint is brought forward within sixty (60) College business days of the alleged incident.

When discussing formal complaints with an instructor it is most effective to arrange a time when the instructor is available for a confidential conversation. It is important to note that breaks in a faculty member’s instructional service time may affect the resolution timeline (i.e., Spring Break, and Summer Break, and Holiday Break).

If the student does not agree with the initial discussion and suggested resolution, the student may file a formal complaint against the faculty member.

Any formal complaint must refer to actions of the Faculty member within the scope of his/her employment. A grade change request based strictly upon academic considerations shall not be considered a formal complaint against a Faculty member.

B. Formal complaint against a Faculty Member

Formal complaints must be filed using Mesalands Community College’s online formal complaint form. The formal complaint must be filed within ten (10) College business days from the date of the initial formal complaint (Item A above). The formal complaint should be addressed to the faculty member’s supervisor the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

The Vice President of Academic Affairs will have fifteen (15) College business days to investigate and respond to the student’s formal complaint.

The investigation by the Vice President of Academic Affairs shall include the faculty member, the student and/or any other person who has first-hand knowledge of the subject of the complaint. During the investigation, s/he shall meet separately with:
• The student who may, if desired, have an advisor present; and
• The faculty member and
• Any additional parties involved.
During the Vice President of Academic Affair’s investigation, he/she shall meet separately with the different parties who may, if they desire, have an advisor with them, unless the faculty member is not available due to semester break and vacations. In those situations, the fifteen (15) College business days allowed for resolution will start and stop based on faculty contracts.

The Vice President of Academic Affairs may address the formal complaint in one of the following ways:
• Offer a resolution to the formal complaint.
• Dismiss the formal complaint.
• Take appropriate action, which may include training, counseling or corrective action with one or more parties to the formal complaint.

Appeal

The student may appeal to the Vice President of Academic Affairs within five (5) College business days.

The Vice President of Academic Affairs will review appeal documentation submitted by the student and communicate an appeal decision within five (5) College business days of receipt of the student’s appeal. The appeal decision is sent to the student.

The appealed formal complaint decision is not subject to further appeals.

Feedback

To gain feedback on the investigation process and help ensure continuous improvement, those who file formal complaints and parties who respond to the formal complaints will be sent a survey at the Mesalands Community College’s Student Formal Complaint Processes conclusion of the investigation. The Director of Academic Services and Institutional Research shall review feedback surveys for trends and common themes on a quarterly basis; the information will be used to aid in policy and training development.

Suggestion Box

Mesalands Community College community members may have a voice in the continuous improvement process here at Mesalands Community College. All suggestions and comments must be in the spirit of collegiality and improvement.