Student Grievance

Recommended By
Academic Senate
Judy K. Sakaki, President
Issue Date
Wednesday, February 3, 1988
Current Issue Date
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Effective Date
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Contact Office
Student Affairs
Policy number
  1. Preamble
    1. A grievance may arise out of a decision or action reached or taken in the course of official duty by a member of the faculty, staff, or administration of Sonoma State University. A grievable action is defined below. The purpose of the grievance procedures is to provide a process for an impartial review and to ensure that the rights of students are properly recognized and protected.
    2. The Student Grievance process relies on the good faith of all involved to achieve a reasonable resolution of grievable actions.  Any student who believes he/she has grounds for a grievance shall make an attempt in good faith to resolve the problem through early informal discussion of the matter with the academic, administrative, or staff member directly involved. 
    3. In the case of a grade appeal, students are directed to the Grade Appeal Policy and Formal Dispute Resolution Procedures. The authority for the procedures followed in the case of a grade appeal is based on the Chancellor's Executive Order #1037. Also, if the grievance remedy includes a request for a grade change, then see Section V of this policy. In the case of sexual harassment, or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, creed, color, religion, sexual preference, national origin, age, marital status, pregnancy, veteran's status or disabling condition, the Managing Director of Employee Relations and Compliance Services is designated as the person responsible for receiving student complaints. Student appeals relating to Financial Aid decisions, rules, and regulations are directed to the Financial Aid Office in order to initiate the Financial Aid Appeal Process.
    4. The faculty member and/or Department being grieved shall not retaliate against the grieving student.
  2. Definitions of Grievable Actions
    1. A grievable action is an action that:
      1. Is in violation of written campus policies or procedures, or
      2. Constitutes arbitrary, capricious, or unequal application of written campus policies or procedures.
  3. Standing to File a Grievance
    1. Any person who, at the time of filing a grievance, is a matriculated student at Sonoma State University, or is a non-matriculated student taking an academic credit bearing course, or was one of these two types of students during the semester (or summer/intersession) prior to the time of filing, has standing to file a grievance under these procedures, provided that person has attempted to resolve his or her complaint informally through those procedures discussed in Section IV.
    2. Any person who, at the time of filing a grievance, is a matriculated student enrolled in a non-credit bearing course through the School of Extended and International Education (SEIE), has standing to file a grievance under the SEIE grievance procedure. 
    3. Any person who, at the time of filing a grievance, is a non-matriculated student enrolled in a professional development certificate program, non-degree granting program, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program, or other non-credit bearing course or program through the School of Extended and International Education (SEIE), has standing to file a grievance under the SEIE grievance procedure.
  4. Informal and Formal Procedures 
    The initiation of informal and formal grievance procedures follow the Formal Dispute Resolution procedures. The Vice President of Student Affairs office may be consulted for assistance at any point in the informal process, if the grievant so desires.
  5. Grievances that Include a Request for a Grade Change
    Where the remedy to a grievance includes a request for a grade change AND there are allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, the grievance shall follow the same procedures as outlined in the Grade Appeal Policy, Section I.C.  In accordance with Executive Order 1074, “the Campus grade appeal procedure shall be placed in abeyance until such time as the informal or formal Campus investigation procedures and any appeal processes have concluded.  The final determination regarding whether discrimination, harassment, or retaliation occurred” will be communicated to the Dispute Resolution Board. The Dispute Resolution Board must take into account such determination when considering the grade appeal request contained in a grievance.
  6. Time Limit on Filing a Grievance 
    The Student Grievance form and the documentation of the informal resolution process must be submitted to the Chair of the Dispute Resolution Board no later than the end of the semester following the occurrence of the action upon which it is based. Failure of the student to file a grievance by the deadline constitutes a waiver of all rights under this policy.