SOAR

Grievance Resolution for College Faculty

The College is committed to maintaining a humane atmosphere in which individuals do not abuse their personal authority or power. The College recognizes and endorses the importance of resolving grievances properly without fear of prejudice or reprisal. The procedures described below are to facilitate prompt and equitable settlement or grievances and permit all members of the College community to work together without disruptive conflicts. The procedures described apply to all members of the teaching faculty, including part-time faculty. In the following procedure, the faculty member (or members) who makes the allegation is termed the complainant, and the person (or persons) against whom the allegation is made is termed the respondent.

1. Definition of Grievance

A grievance is defined as an allegation that a violation of College policy or procedure as set forth in the Faculty Handbook (including violations of faculty rights, infringements of academic freedom or breach of professional ethics, civil rights or harassment complaints), or an allegation of a condition which seriously interferes with the ability of a faculty member to fulfill his or her responsibilities as teacher and scholar or artist has occurred. Appeals of decisions of the Academic Personnel Committee are heard by the Faculty Review Committee, and the procedure below does not apply.

2. Informal Procedures

The College encourages the informal and prompt settlement of grievances. Its policy is to attempt to resolve all grievances in an informal, confidential and amicable way, and strive to avoid hearings and formal reports. The necessary first step toward an informal solution of a grievance is for the complainant to attempt personally to resolve his or her complaint with the other person or parties involved.

If this fails, or because of the nature of the grievance, is not possible, then in all cases where the respondent is a member of the teaching faculty, the complainant should seek the intervention of a department chairman, an appropriate administrator or the grievance mediator. (If the respondent is a student, and the nature of the grievance is not the purview of the Academic Standards Committee or the Student Discipline Committee, then the matter should be referred to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and/or the Vice President for Student Affiars. If the respondent is an administrator, the matter should be referred to the President, and if the respondent is a member of the support staff, the matter should be referred to the appropriate Vice President.)

Whenever a complainant seeks such intervention, the administrator or grievance mediator will investigate the complaint immediately and assure the complainant of confidentiality and fairness. A person bringing a complaint founded in good faith will suffer no retaliation. After determining the nature of the grievance, the administrator or grievance mediator will normally seek to resolve the matter through informal negotiations with the persons involved. The mediator may also recommend that a formal (written) complaint be submitted to the Faculty Grievance Resolution Committee.

When the grievance is an allegation of serious professional or personal misconduct that might result in termination for cause, the matter is to be referred to the President, who will investigate the matter. On the basis of that investigation, either the grievance will be amicably settled, or the President will request the Personnel Committee to conduct a review for termination for cause. (See Procedures in Termination for cause.)

3. Formal Procedure

When the informal procedures described above have failed to resolve a grievance satisfactorily, the complainant may submit to the Faculty Grievance Resolution Committee a written statement describing the action or condition which caused the grievance, together with any supporting evidence. Such a formal complaint should be made in a timely manner, preferably within thirty days of the alleged occurrence. The complainant will meet with the Committee to detail the nature of the grievance and the steps taken thus far to resolve it.

The Grievance Resolution Committee decides whether the grievance merits examination, and has the right to dismiss any complaints which it deems trivial or malicious. When the Committee rules that the grievance be investigated, then the respondent will be promptly notified by the Committee and given a copy of the written complaint and invited to respond in writing within fifteen days. The Committee may also seek further information from other members of the College community involved in the grievance in order to effect its resolution. All material given to the Committee and all discussions of the Committee with those involved in the grievance will be held in strict confidence.

The Committee will take appropriate steps to effect a resolution of the complaint acceptable to both parties. This may take the form of a meeting of both parties, mediated by one or more members of the Grievance Resolution Committee, at which the facts of the case are established and a settlement agreed upon.

A more formal hearing may be requested by the Committee, at which both parties to the dispute have the right to an advisor of their choosing from the faculty or staff of the College. Such a hearing is for the purpose of arriving at a fair judgment, and is not a legal proceeding. Both parties to the dispute will be prepared to make statements and answer questions by the Committee. At the discretion of the Committee, evidence may be presented by others concerning the dispute. Both parties to the dispute have the right to knowledge of such other testimony and evidence.

The Committee will keep a record of all such formal hearings, including the initial written complaint, those in attendance at the hearing, the Committee’s findings and reasons for such conclusions, and any recommendations. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee will report its findings and recommendations in writing to the complainant, the respondent, and the President. The President must respond within 15 days to the recommendations of the Committee, informing the Committee and both parties to the dispute of any actions to be taken. The President’s decision cannot be appealed.

If, at any point in the College grievance proceedings, any party to the dispute initiates legal proceedings, the College grievance proceeding will cease.

4. Selection of the Grievance Mediator and Grievance Resolution Committee.

a. The Grievance Mediator

(1) This person must have the trust and respect of the faculty, and not be in an elected or appointed position which requires evaluations and decisions on faculty performance for a wide range of the faculty. The mediator must possess good mediation skills, and be good at interpersonal relations. There shall also be an alternate mediator of the opposite sex (and if the mediator is a faculty member, the alternate may not be from the same department).

(2) Each faculty member is asked to submit at least one and at most two names for the position to the Faculty Executive Council. The Council, guided by this list of recommendations, chooses one and an alternate whom it feels are best suited to the position (having checked that the recommended choice is willing to assume the position). The Council recommends to the President its choices for appointment to the positions of grievance mediator and alternate. The appointments are for term of three years, expiring in different years.

b. The Grievance Resolution Committee

This committee, like the Faculty Review Committee, is identified, but not called into action until (and unless) a formal written complaint is submitted for their consideration. The chair of the committee will be the alternate to the grievance mediator (the one not yet involved in attempts to informally resolve the grievance). The committee, when convened to consider a grievance, shall have three members, including the chair, not all of the same sex. No member shall have a conflict of interest with the parties to the dispute (such as from the same department, if a departmental matter is the cause of the dispute). In addition, no member shall be a member of the Personnel Committee.

Using the list of suggested names for grievance mediator received from the Faculty, and after the President has appointed the grievance mediator and alternate, the Faculty Executive Council will prepare a list of at least four nominees for the Grievance Resolution Committee, including both men and women, and from different departments. At the final faculty meeting in May, the faculty will elect two members and two alternates to the Grievance Resolution Committee. Terms of office are for two years, not all expiring in the same year.