AppealThe process by which a student may request an exception to a University policy or challenge a decision made by the University. Most University policies have established appeal procedures.
Complaint or grievanceComplaints and grievances are used interchangeably in the policy library, but in either case they are an expression of dissatisfaction with a University policy, the application of a policy in a particular situation, a service (or lack thereof) provided by the University, and/or the actions of a member of the University community (faculty, staff, or student). Complaints can be informal or formal.
Informal complaints are generally those handled through discussion with a representative of the unit or department on campus in which the issue originated.
Formal complaints are those submitted in writing (electronic or hard copy) to address issues that could not be resolved informally. Formal complaints should be submitted to the appropriate administrator of the office, department, or unit involved and should include a description of the issue or concern and the steps taken to resolve it through the informal process as well as the name and contact information (email and/or phone and/or address) of the complainant.
In some cases, both an appeal and a complaint may be filed about the same issue (e.g., an appeal for a refund as an exception to policy based on dissatisfaction with the actions of a member of the faculty or staff).
Missouri State University-West Plains seeks to provide quality programs and services for the benefit of the public while ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and consistent application of all institutional policies as found in the Policy Library.
Consistent with these objectives, the University also provides avenues for individuals who wish to file an appeal or complaint. The Policy Library provides links to a number of specific policies that provide students and others with opportunities to appeal decisions of the institution and/or file complaints. These policies include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities
- Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedures
- Ethics Hotline-Whistleblower Policy
- Grade Appeals and Academic Grievances
- HIPAA Complaint Process
- Title IX Policy on Sexual Assault, Stalking and Other Forms of Sexual Misconduct
Individuals who have a concern are encouraged to review the policy library for relevant policies and associated procedures. Complaints regarding discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct shall always follow the procedures set out in those policies, and those policies shall control.
For complaints not covered by specific policies or procedures, individuals are encouraged to address their concerns through an informal complaint process by following the appropriate chain of command in accordance with the University’s organizational structure. For example, complaints about an office or department (or an individual in a department or office) should be addressed to the coordinator or department head of that unit. Individuals who are not satisfied that a complaint has been adequately addressed may pursue it to the next level within the administrative structure up through the chancellor level.
Students who are unable to resolve their concern through this process may file a formal (written) complaint using the Student Complaint Form. A record of such complaints will be maintained at the dean/chancellor level (designated officers). Designated officers will maintain a Student Complaint Log of formal complaints, which will include the following:
- Date complaint was first formally submitted to a designated officer
- Nature of the complaint (e.g., dispute about a grade, allegation of sexual harassment, etc.)
- Steps taken by the institution to resolve the complaint
- Final decision of the institution regarding the complaint, including referral to outside agencies
- Any other external action initiated by the student to resolve the complaint, if known by the institution (e.g., lawsuit, EEOC investigation, etc.)
Individuals who are unsure of relevant policies or procedures for addressing a specific issue or who need guidance regarding the organizational structure of the institution are encouraged to contact the Dean of Student Services, and/or their academic advisor.
The Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) serves as a clearinghouse for postsecondary student complaints. The MDHE complaint policy contains information about the complaint process and includes instructions for how to file a formal complaint. Note that the policy provides that a student who wishes to file a complaint with the department must first exhaust all formal and informal avenues provided by the institution to resolve disputes.
Approved by Missouri State University-West Plains Administrative Council – June 20, 2017
Line of authority
Responsible administrator and office: Office of the President
Contact person in that office: Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President for Governmental Relations
Presidential approval: August 17, 2015