Stephen F. Austin State University

Student Complaints and Grievances

Student Compliant and Grievance Information

Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) is committed to fostering an educational environment that promotes the highest level of learning and personal development of its students. To support this commitment, SFA strives to ensure all students are treated equitably and in accordance with university policies. Should an instance arise in which a student believes that a department or an individual has not acted in accordance with this stated goal, the student should first seek to resolve the issue informally with the respective individuals involved. If these informal procedures prove unsatisfactory, the student may file a formal grievance to seek resolution.

Definition

A formal student grievance may be filed when a student can demonstrate that a campus department or individual has not followed university policies. For a student grievance to be considered a formal student grievance , it must meet the following thresholds:

OR

AND

AND

I. Procedures for Student Grievances Governed by a Process Outlined in an Official SFA Policy

Many policies at SFA contain formal procedures for handling grievances. Students filing a grievance governed by one of these policies should refer to the procedures and expectations as outlined within the relevant policy statement for the appropriate procedures.

Since this is the case, the formal grievance procedures outlined in Section II below are not intended to circumvent these established processes:

Academic Complaints

Policy and procedure for students to appeal academic decisions can be found in the Academic Appeals by Students policy.

Fiscal (Financial) Complaints

Policy and procedure for students to appeal charges to their student account can be found in the Student Fiscal Appeals policy.

Policy and procedure for students to appeal their satisfactory academic progress can be found in the Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid Recipients policy

Provision of Accommodations

Policy and procedure for students who disagree with the provision of accommodations for students with disabilities can be found in the Appeal Procedure Relating to the Provision of Accommodations for Students with Disabilities policy.

Discrimination Complaints

Policy and procedure for students who believe that he/she has been subjected to any type of discrimination (excluding sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct) can be found in the Discrimination Complaints policy.

Sexual Misconduct Complaints

Policy and procedure for students who believe he/she has been subject to sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct can be found in the Sexual Misconduct policy. Additional sources of help and support can be found on the Lumberjacks Care website.

Student Record Complaints

Policy and procedure for students who wish to request a correction to his/her education records can be found in the Student Records policy.

Intercollegiate Athlectics Student Grievance Procedures

Procedures for student athletes who wish to make a complaint about athletic related matters can be found in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics Policies and Procedures Manual.

II. Procedures for Student Grievances Not Governed by a Process Outlined in an Official SFA Policy

In grievances for which no process is prescribed in an official SFA policy, the following guidelines must be followed:

Stage I - Informal Resolution

Any student who can demonstrate that he or she has been subject to adverse treatment due to a lack of adherence to University policy or procedure by university personnel may express dissatisfaction and seek resolution. As a first step, the student must seek to resolve the issue directly with the aggrieving University representative (e.g., staff member, faculty member, administrator). If a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached between the student and university representative, or if extenuating circumstances prevent direct communication between the student and university representative, the student should contact the university representative's direct supervisor (e.g., office supervisor, department chair, college dean). For academic matters, it may be necessary to follow the chain of command from instructor to department chair to academic dean. For issues dealing with staff, it may be necessary to discuss the matter with the staff member and then progress to coordinator, director, and ultimately divisional vice president as appropriate. If, after diligent communication through the chain of command, a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, a formal grievance may be filed following the procedures as outlined in Stage II below.

You can always seek guidance from the Dean of Student Affairs office. For help contact the Dean at 936-468-7249 or dosa@sfasu.edu.

Stage II - Formal Grievance

Students may file a formal, written grievance only after informal resolution strategies have been pursued (see Stage I procedures above). Formal grievances must be in writing and filed within 30 university business days of the university action creating the student's concern. Upon submission, the formal, written grievance will be routed to the appropriate administrator for review. Upon receipt of the grievance , the administrator will notify the student of its receipt and has 20 university business days to provide a written respond. For grievances filed between semesters, additional response time may be necessary to allow for availability of the relevant parties. When additional time is necessary, students will be advised in writing of the estimated time for response within 20 university business days of receipt of the grievance.

You can click here to access a Formal Grievance Form to complete and provide to the Dean of Student Affairs office. In addition you can e-mail "Tell Jack" or you can contact the Dean of Student Affairs office at 936-468-7249.

Questions regarding complaints not detailed above should be referred to the Office of the General Counsel at ogc@sfasu.edu for forwarding to the appropriate department.

Student Complaints and Grievances - External

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) may investigate student complaints concerning compliance with statutes and regulations that THECB administers. Students must exhaust all grievances and appeal procedures that SFA has established prior to filing a complaint with THECB. Complaints may be filed by sending a completed student complaint form to StudentComplaints@thecb.state.tx.us or by mail to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Office of the General Counsel, P.O. Box 12788, Austin, TX 78711-2788. Additional information regarding THECB's student complaint process may be found in their website.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACS), SFA's accrediting agency, may investigate complaints regarding significant non-compliance with SACS' standards, policies, or procedures. Additional information regarding SACS' complaint process may be found on their website.