Grievance and Complaint Procedures

Grievance Procedure—Problem Solving

Situations sometimes arise in which students feel that they have not been dealt with fairly, do not agree with a policy decision made by an office of the University, or have a complaint about the performance of a member of the staff or faculty of the University. The University has a set of procedures designed to address these kinds of problems. The dean’s office of the school or college in which a student is enrolled, the student’s academic advisor, and the Dean of Students Office will assist students who have complaints or grievances and need help in determining the procedures to be followed.

As a general rule, unless specified otherwise below, a complaint from a student who is dissatisfied with a situation or event should be directed to the persons whose actions or inactions have given rise to the complaint. Whenever possible, every effort should be made to resolve the problem fairly and promptly at that level. However, students who have experienced sexual misconduct of any kind should not address that misconduct with the alleged perpetrator; students should contact the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center immediately. Certified counselors are available 24/7 at 617-353-SARP.

In the event that a student is not able to satisfactorily resolve the matter with those directly involved, he or she may pursue the issue within the normal reporting structure (appropriate administrative channels) of the academic or administrative unit.

Students who are uncertain as to the proper procedure to follow for a particular grievance should seek help and information from the Dean of Students Office.


In Cases of Alleged Discrimination

Complaint Procedures in Cases of Alleged Unlawful Discrimination or Harassment

Boston University prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or other unlawful basis. The goal of the procedures outlined below is to ensure that non-discrimination is a reality at Boston University and that no person in the University community is subjected to such unlawful conduct. All members of the University community can assist in the furtherance of this goal by ensuring that complaints of discrimination are promptly directed to the departments or individuals who have been designated to receive them, in accordance with these procedures.

Any employee, student or applicant for employment or admission who believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual misconduct of any kind, including sex-based discrimination, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating or domestic violence or stalking, may make a complaint to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Kim Randall, at krandall@bu.edu or 617-353-9286, or to any of the University’s Deputy Title IX Coordinators identified here: http://www.bu.edu/eoo/title-ix-2/. Additional information about the University’s policies concerning sexual misconduct are available at: www.bu.edu/safety/sexual-misconduct.

Any employee, student or applicant for employment or admission, who believes that he or she has been subjected to any form of unlawful discrimination may make a complaint. Unlawful discrimination includes harassment based on an individual’s membership in any legally protected category. Boston University will conduct a fair and impartial investigation of all such complaints, with due regard for the rights of all parties. Retaliation against any individual who has made a complaint of discrimination, or who has cooperated in the investigation of such a complaint, is unlawful and in violation of Boston University policy. The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that all complaints of discrimination are thoroughly and fairly investigated by authorized University officials who have the necessary expertise.

All complaints regarding sexual misconduct should be referred to the University’s Title IX Coordinator or one of the Deputy Title IX Coordinators. Any other complaint of discrimination should be referred to one of the schools, departments, or individuals who are responsible for receiving or investigating such complaints. Any employee who receives a complaint, but who is not specifically designated to formally handle such a complaint, is responsible for directing the complainant or otherwise referring the complaint to the appropriate individual. All complaints, either verbal or written, must be referred to the appropriate office, as set forth below.

Initiating a Complaint

The process outlined in this section applies to all complaints of discrimination, except those regarding sexual misconduct or brought by students on the basis of disability. Any employee, student or applicant for employment or admission who believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual misconduct of any kind, including sex-based discrimination, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating or domestic violence or stalking, may make a complaint to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Kim Randall, at krandall@bu.edu or 617-353-9286, or to any of the University’s Deputy Title IX Coordinators identified here: http://www.bu.edu/eoo/title-ix-2/. Additional information about the University’s policies concerning sexual misconduct are available at: www.bu.edu/safety/sexual-misconduct.

Students who wish to file a complaint alleging discrimination based on disability should file with Disability Services, in accordance with the procedures set forth in the last section of this document.

An employee, student, or applicant for employment or admission who believes that any other unlawful discrimination has occurred may initiate a complaint either by meeting with the appropriate individual in one of the offices listed below, or by submitting a written complaint to that individual or office. The information provided in the complaint should be as specific as possible regarding the circumstances that precipitated the complaint. The complaint should include the dates and places of the incidents at issue, the individuals involved, the names of any witnesses, any efforts to resolve the matter informally and their results, and any other pertinent information.

Offices in which a Complaint of Discrimination May Be Initiated

There are a variety of offices available to receive complaints from students, faculty, and staff who believe they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination.

Complaints by Students

Students may initiate a complaint by speaking to the designated individual in the dean’s office of the student’s school or college, by speaking to a representative in the Dean of Students Office, or by contacting the Equal Opportunity Office.

Complaints by Members of the Faculty or Staff

Faculty or Staff may initiate a complaint by contacting the Equal Opportunity Office, or by contacting Human Resources. Employees in academic units may also initiate a complaint with the designated individual in their Dean’s Office. Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement may have additional options under that agreement for addressing complaints.

Complaints from applicants for employment or admission, visitors, or other non-affiliated individuals may be initiated in the Equal Opportunity Office.

Complaints from students, faculty, or staff at off-site locations

Any individual at an off-site location, such as Washington, DC or overseas programs, etc., may bring a complaint to any of the above offices as appropriate, or to the on-site director of the program.

Names of the designated individuals in the dean’s offices of the schools and colleges may be obtained from the Dean’s Office or the Equal Opportunity Office.

Investigation and Resolution of Complaints

The individuals and offices available to receive complaints, noted above, were selected to give all members of the University community the opportunity to initiate a complaint in a place in which they will feel comfortable doing so. These individuals and offices have the responsibility, after speaking with the complainant and/or reviewing a written complaint, to ensure that the complaint is directed to the proper office or individual for investigation.

Any employee, student or applicant for employment or admission who believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual misconduct of any kind, including sex-based discrimination, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating or domestic violence or stalking, may make a complaint to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Kim Randall, at krandall@bu.edu or 617-353-9286, or to any of the University’s Deputy Title IX Coordinators identified here: http://www.bu.edu/eoo/title-ix-2/. Additional information about the University’s policies concerning sexual misconduct are available at: www.bu.edu/safety/sexual-misconduct.

The University has designated specific offices and individuals to investigate complaints of unlawful discrimination. Depending upon whether the individual accused of engaging in discrimination is a student, a member of the faculty, or a member of the staff, the investigation will be conducted by the designated office or individual with the appropriate expertise and jurisdiction to do so. The offices and individuals responsible for investigating complaints of discrimination are set forth below. In any particular case that does not involve sexual misconduct, the Provost may designate which office or individual will investigate a complaint. The University will ensure that no person who is the subject of a complaint will be assigned to investigate that complaint. The Equal Opportunity Office, if it is not conducting the investigation, and/or the Office of General Counsel will provide advice or assistance to the investigation process.

The investigation may involve meeting with the parties, interviewing witnesses, requesting written statements from the parties, informing the person whose actions are the subject of the complaint of the allegations and/or providing to that person a copy of the complainant’s statement, and/or making any other appropriate inquiries. Before any adverse determination is made, the individual whose actions are the subject of the complaint will be informed as to the nature of the complaint, and will have the opportunity to respond.

The investigation should be completed promptly so that a decision can be rendered within 45 days of receipt of the complaint. If this is not possible, the complainant will be informed of the status of the investigation within 45 days.

A confidential record of all complaints, including their disposition, will be maintained by the investigating unit. The Equal Opportunity Office will be informed of, and maintain a confidential record of, the nature of all complaints of discrimination investigated by other units, the names of complaining parties and respondents, and the final disposition of all complaints.

Complaints Against Students

The person who receives a complaint against a student will generally refer the matter for investigation to the Dean of Students Office, though if a school or college has an established internal process for investigation of complaints it receives against its students, the dean of that school or college will decide if the complaint will be investigated in accordance with that process or by the Dean of Students Office. The investigating office will take any action that might be appropriate based on the results of the investigation, consistent with the applicable provisions in the Code of Student Responsibilities or the disciplinary procedures of the school or college.

Complaints Against Faculty Members

The person who receives a complaint against a member of the faculty will refer the matter to the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity, who will inform the Dean of the faculty member’s school or college. If the school or college has an established internal process for investigation of complaints against faculty, the dean of that school or college will decide if the complaint will be investigated in accordance with that process or by the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity in consultation with the dean or the dean’s designee. If the complaint also involves academic matters such as grades, curriculum, etc., the investigator will ensure that those matters are addressed by the appropriate officials within the school or college. The dean of the school or college will be informed of the findings of the investigation and will determine whether further action is appropriate. Any action involving faculty will be consistent with the procedures outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

Complaints Against Staff Members

The person who receives a complaint against a member of the staff will refer the matter for investigation to the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity, who will inform the appropriate Dean or administrative head and Human Resources. The complaint will generally be investigated by the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity. The Executive Director of Equal Opportunity (or other designated investigator) will provide findings, in writing, to the dean or administrative head, who will determine what action, if any, is appropriate. Action involving staff will be consistent with any applicable collective bargaining agreement and University policies.

Confidentiality

Allegations of sexual misconduct may be discussed confidentially with the University’s Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center (www.bu.edu/sarp). Counselors are available 24/7 at 617-353-7277. Members of the University community may also contact a member of the clergy to talk confidentially. University Chaplains from a variety of religious traditions may be contacted through Marsh Chapel (www.bu.edu/chapel).

For all allegations that do not relate to sexual misconduct, every reasonable effort will be made to protect the privacy and confidentiality of all parties during the investigation, consistent with and subject to the University’s need to investigate the complaint and/or implement decisions made in order to resolve the complaint. It must be understood that in order to permit the University to carry out its obligation to investigate all complaints fairly, and to ensure that non-discrimination is a reality within the University community, no representative of the University is authorized to promise complete confidentiality to any person who possesses information relevant to the investigation of a complaint, including the complainant.

Any individual who requests confidentiality before disclosing a complaint must be informed that because any apparent violation of Boston University Policy must be addressed, complete confidentiality may not be possible. An individual who insists on confidentiality as a condition of disclosing a complaint may be advised of the opportunity to consult with one of the University’s medical or mental health professionals, with whom such matters may be discussed in confidence. However, consulting with these professionals does not constitute the initiation of a complaint. Medical and mental health professionals are not representatives of the University for this purpose and are not authorized to investigate or respond to complaints of discrimination.

Appeals

In the event that the complainant believes that the resolution of the complaint has not rectified the situation, an appeal may be made. The appeal should be filed with the Director of Equal Opportunity. In the case of complaints against students and staff members, the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity will direct the appeal to the appropriate officer of the University for review and disposition. In the case of complaints against faculty, the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity will consult with either the dean of the school or college in which the faculty member is appointed (if the dean did not make the decision being appealed) or the Provost to determine the appropriate officer of the University to whom the appeal should be directed.

An individual whose action(s) are the subject of a complaint may appeal adverse action taken as a result of the complaint. Students disciplined under the Code of Student Responsibilities should follow the appeal procedures outlined in that document. Faculty members should follow the procedures in the Faculty Handbook. Other employees should follow the grievance procedures outlined in the Personnel Policy Manual, or their collective bargaining agreement, whichever is appropriate.

These procedures shall constitute the grievance procedure mandated by the regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and, for employees, the grievance procedure mandated by the regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The procedure for student grievances under Section 504 is set forth in the Student Grievance Procedure in Cases of Alleged Disability Discrimination. The University’s Director of Equal Opportunity, 19 Deerfield Street, 2nd floor, tel. 617-353-9286, is the designated coordinator for complaints arising under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The Director of Disability Services, tel. 617-353-3658, is the designated compliance officer for complaints arising under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Questions about the University’s Complaint Procedures in Cases of Alleged Unlawful Discrimination or Harassment may be addressed to the Equal Opportunity Office.

Exceptions to these procedures may be granted by the President, Provost, Medical Campus Provost, or the General Counsel.

Offices where complaints may be initiated:

  • Title IX Coordinator, 19 Deerfield Street, 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02215, 617-353-9286
  • Equal Opportunity Office, 15 Deerfield Street, 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02215, 617-353-92869286, www.bu.edu/eoo
  • Office of the dean in the individual’s school or college
  • Dean of Students Office, 775 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, 617-353-41264126, www.bu.edu/dos
  • Human Resources, Charles River Campus, Employee Relations Representatives, 910 Commonwealth Avenue, Third Floor, Boston, MA 02215, 617-353-23802380, www.bu.edu/hr
  • Human Resources, Medical Campus, Director of Human Resources, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, Crosstown Center, Suite 400, 617-638-46104610, www.bu.edu/hr

Student Grievance Procedure in Cases of Alleged Disability Discrimination

Boston University prohibits discrimination against any individual on the basis of physical or mental disability. This policy extends to all rights, privileges, programs, and activities, including housing, employment, admissions, financial assistance, and educational and athletic programs. It is also the policy of Boston University to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities unless such accommodations would impose an undue burden or fundamental alteration to the program in question. The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that all complaints of discrimination based on disability are thoroughly and fairly investigated by the authorized units of the University. Boston University will conduct a fair and impartial investigation of all allegations of discrimination, with due regard for the rights of all parties. Retaliation against any individual who has filed a complaint of discrimination, or who has cooperated in the investigation of such a complaint, is unlawful and in violation of Boston University policy.

When a student believes that he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of disability, he or she may file, in writing a formal grievance with the Director of  Disability Services, who is the University’s compliance officer for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The statement should be as specific as possible regarding the actions(s) or inaction(s) that precipitated the grievance: date, place, persons involved, efforts made to settle the matter informally, and the remedy sought.

If a student with a grievance alleging disability discrimination is also employed by the University, and the grievance arises out of the student’s employment, the grievance may be filed under the University’s Complaint Procedures in Cases of Alleged Unlawful Discrimination or Harassment. If the Director of Disability Services receives a grievance which appears to allege disability discrimination arising out of a student’s employment, the grievance may be referred to the appropriate office to be handled under the policy applicable to employees.

Where the grievance arises out of a decision made by Disability Services regarding a student’s eligibility for academic or other accommodations, the grievance will be forwarded for investigation to the Provost. Grievances otherwise involving academic matters, for example, cases in which grades are disputed, will also be forwarded to the Provost, who will determine which office(s) should conduct the investigation. Otherwise, the Director of Disability Services shall investigate the matters set forth in the written grievance. In conducting this investigation, the investigator may forward a copy of the grievance statement to the persons whose actions (or inactions) are the subject of the grievance, and may request a written response from appropriate individuals in the University. The investigator may also choose to interview witnesses, to meet with concerned parties, to receive oral or written statements, and to make other appropriate inquiries.

After completing the investigation, the investigator will forward a copy of a report and recommendation to the appropriate University official. If the complaint arises out of an academic unit, the report will be forwarded to the dean of the appropriate school or college, unless he is the subject of the grievance. In such cases, the report will be sent to the Provost. If the complaint arises from a nonacademic unit, the report will be forwarded to the administrative head of the unit, unless he is the subject of the grievance. In such cases, the report will be forwarded to the Dean of Students, who will forward it to the appropriate officer of the University.

Within forty-five (45) days of the filing of the grievance, the Provost, dean, or administrative head will render a decision on the merits of the student’s complaint. If resolution is not possible within forty-five (45) days, the Provost, dean, or administrative head shall inform the student of the status of the investigation.

Copies of the decision by the Provost, dean, or administrative head will be sent to the student, the Provost (when not issued by him), and the Director of Disability Services. A copy may also be sent to the department and/or the persons whose actions (or inactions) are the subject of the grievance, as appropriate.

In the event that the student is not satisfied with the resolution of the grievance, an appeal may be made. The appeal should be filed with the Director of  Disability Services, who will direct the appeal and all appropriate records to the appropriate office of the University for review and disposition.

Copies of the decision will be maintained in the Office of the Provost and the Disability Services Office.

These procedures shall constitute the grievance procedure mandated by regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Questions about the University’s Student Grievance Procedures in Cases of Alleged Disability Discrimination should be addressed to the Disability Services Office.

Exceptions to these procedures may be granted by the President, Provost, Medical Campus Provost, or the General Counsel.

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