Stephen F. Austin State University

Student Complaints

Formal Written Student Complaints

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 seek to resolve the issue informally with the respective individuals involved. If these informal procedures prove unsatisfactory, the student may file a formal written complaint to seek resolution.

Formal written complaint - a statement that a student finds something to be unsatisfactory and alleges the dissatisfaction has been created by a violation or disparate application of a university policy or written procedure.

A formal written complaint must meet the following thresholds:

OR

AND

AND

I. Procedures for Formal Written Student Complaints Governed by a Process Outlined in an Official SFA Policy

Many policies at SFA contain formal procedures for handling student complaints. Students filing a complaint related to situations governed by one of these policies should refer to the procedures and expectations outlined within the relevant policy statement for the appropriate procedures.

The formal procedures outlined in Section II below are not intended to circumvent these processes established in policy:

Academic Complaints

Policy and procedure for students to appeal grade decisions can be found in the Final Course Grade 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 they have 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 they have been subjected 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 their education records can be found in the Student Records policy.

Intercollegiate Athletics 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 Complaints Not Governed by a Process Outlined in an Official SFA Policy

For complaints for which no process is prescribed in an official SFA policy, the following guidelines should 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 to the divisional vice president as appropriate. If, after diligent communication through the chain of command, a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, a formal written complaint 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 Written Complaint

Students may file a formal, written complaint only after informal resolution strategies have been pursued (see Stage I procedures above). Formal complaints must be in writing and filed within 30 university business days of the university action creating the student's concern. To file a formal written complaint, a student can complete and submit a Formal Student Complaint Form. Once submitted, the Dean of Student Affairs office will notify the submitting student of its receipt and will route the complaint to the appropriate administrator for review. Upon receiving the complaint, the reviewing administrator will notify the submitting student of its receipt and will have 20 university business days to provide a written response. For complaints 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 complaint.

For any questions about this process, you may email the Dean of Student Affairs at dosa@sfasu.edu or call 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 on the board's 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 the commission's website.