Provost’s Procedure for Student Complaints
This Procedure governs any case in which a student has a complaint, including but not limited to a complaint of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability1 or sexual orientation against a faculty member who is not a member of the faculty of the complainant’s School (or, in the case of students in Yale College and the Graduate School, not a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences); or against an employee who is not an administrator in the student’s School or who is not subject to discipline by the student’s Dean.2 Also this Procedure is to be used for all complaints of discrimination on the basis of disability where structural modifications of University facilities is the remedy sought. Since an instructor’s evaluation of the quality of a student’s work is final, this Procedure does not apply in any dispute about a grade assigned to a student by a member of the faculty, unless it is alleged that the determination of the grade resulted from discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability or sexual orientation. Similarly, this Procedure does not apply to any matter inherent in the academic freedom of an instructor, such as, for example, in regard to the syllabus or contents of a course of instruction. It is also not a Procedure that may be used when there is a complaint about the quality of a course or the quality of instruction in a course; such concerns may be addressed directly within the Department or School in question.
If a student believes that he or she has been retaliated against as a result of filing a grievance under this Procedure, a separate complaint charging retaliation can be pursued by means of this Procedure.
I. Informal Resolution
If at all possible, the complainant is encouraged to bring a problem directly to the attention of the person whose actions he or she has found to be objectionable. Whether or not this is done, the student may seek assistance and advice on how to secure an equitable solution of the problem from any administrator or faculty member of the University.
II. Filing of a Written Complaint
If the problem cannot be resolved by informal discussion or if the student has chosen not to discuss the matter informally, the complainant will submit to the Dean of his or her School a letter describing the complaint and the facts upon which it is based (insofar as the facts are known to the complainant), specifying the issues in question and indicating what redress or resolution of the grievance is sought. The complaint should be brought to the Dean’s attention as soon as possible after the action giving rise to it, but in no case later than 45 days after the action complained of. (If a complaint is in some manner associated with the conduct of a course, the complaint must also be submitted within 45 days after the action upon which it is based but the student may request that no action be taken on the complaint until after the conclusion of the term in which the course has been offered.) The Dean will supply the person or persons against whom the complaint has been filed with a copy of the complaint.
The Dean3 will undertake an informal investigation of the complaint and in doing so may consult with the student filing the complaint and may meet with such other parties as he or she deems appropriate in an attempt to resolve the complaint.
The Dean’s investigation will be carried out within a reasonable period of time, ordinarily within 45 days, and will be concluded by a written response to the complainant’s letter. The Dean’s written response will also apprise the complainant of the availability of a review as described below.
III. Review by the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Student Grievances
If the Dean does not achieve a resolution that is satisfactory to the complainant, then the complainant may submit to the Provost a written statement of the grievance, describing the complaint and the facts upon which it is based (insofar as the facts are known to the complainant), specifying the issues in question, indicating what remedy or resolution is sought and requesting that the complaint be referred to the Provost’s Committee on Student Grievances.4 This written request must be received within 10 days after the complainant’s receipt of the letter from the Dean that concluded the review described in Section II above.
The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Student Grievances will inform in writing the parties involved that it will review the complaint. The person against whom the complaint has been lodged will be given a copy of the letter to the Dean describing the complaint if this has not already been done. Reasonable time (in no case less than one week and ordinarily within two weeks) is to be allowed between the receipt of the written notification and the date of the commencement of the review in order to provide the parties time to prepare for a meeting with the Committee if either of the parties or the Committee wish it.
In meetings with the Committee, the complainant and the person complained against may each be accompanied by any member of the Yale Community (i.e., student, faculty member, dean, administrator, or other employee); however, these advisers may not have legal training.5 The proceedings are in their nature nonadversarial and the advisers, while they may counsel the individual whom they are accompanying, may not participate directly in the proceedings.
The student and the person complained of will have the opportunity to present information and witnesses deemed by the Committee to be relevant. All documents considered by the Committee that relate to the actions of the person against whom the complaint has been filed may be inspected by that person; and the complainant will be permitted to inspect those documents or parts of documents directly relating to the student’s specific complaint that the Committee deems relevant and concludes were not written under a presumption of confidentiality. Ordinarily both parties may be present when either party or any witness is being interviewed; however, the Committee may enter into closed session with or without one or both parties upon the vote of a majority of the members of the Committee (except that when any witness is being interviewed either both or none of the parties will be present as the Committee deems appropriate). For a complaint alleging sex discrimination or discrimination on the basis of disability, the Committee will be advised by, respectively, the Title IX Coordinator of the complainant’s School or the University’s 504 Coordinator.
The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Student Grievances, having thus conducted its inquiry and having interviewed whatever further witnesses it deems necessary, will then deliberate without the presence of the parties and will prepare a written Report (i) stating its findings of fact and the conclusions it has drawn from these facts and (ii) including a summary of the substance of the testimony that the Committee has relied on in reaching its conclusions and that was heard in closed session. In a separate section of the Report the Committee may outline what actions, if any, it would recommend that the Provost undertake. The Report of the Committee will be adopted only upon the majority vote of the members of the Committee who participated in the Committee’s inquiry.
IV. Final Resolution by the Provost
The Committee will submit its Report to the Provost, ordinarily within two months of the receipt of the complaint by the Committee. The Provost will permit the complainant and the person against whom the complaint was lodged to inspect the Committee’s findings of fact, conclusions and summary of testimony in the Report and to indicate in writing what clarifications each party believes appropriate; however, since the Report is a confidential document advisory to the Provost, only the Provost and neither of the parties is entitled to a copy of it. The Provost will accept the Committee’s findings of fact unless he or she believes that the findings are not substantiated by the evidence presented to the Committee. The Provost may accept, modify or reject the conclusions of the Committee and any recommendations it might have made. However, in any case where the Provost does not follow the actions recommended by the Committee, the Provost will discuss the matter with the Committee and explain the reasons for not doing so. The Provost will then make a decision on the matter and convey the decision in writing to the complainant, the person against whom the grievance was lodged and the Committee; the Provost’s decision will include his or her conclusions about the issues raised in the complaint and the remedies and sanctions, if any, to be imposed. The Provost’s decision is final.
If the remedy deemed appropriate by the Provost is beyond the Provost’s authority, he or she will recommend the initiation of such disciplinary action in accordance with applicable University practices and procedures. The Provost’s decision should ordinarily be rendered within one month after the Provost receives the Committee’s Report.
V. Time Guidelines
If the complainant’s or respondent’s School is not in session during part of that three-month period or in instances where additional time may be required because of the complexity of the case or the unavailability of the parties or witnesses, the Provost may extend beyond three months the period for rendering a decision. If the period is extended, the complainant and the person against whom the complaint was filed will be so informed.
1Complaints of sex discrimination or discrimination on the basis of a disability will be addressed in accordance with the requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, respectively. The federal regulations implementing these two laws are published in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 104 and 106. A formal complaint of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, must be pursued in accordance with the procedures of the UWC. Additionally, Title IX Coordinators are available to respond to such complaints through informal resolution.
2Except for the two types of complaints indicated below, a complaint by a student against employees who are not administrators or faculty in the complainant’s School (or not on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for a complainant who is in Yale College or the Graduate School) must be pursued in accordance with the Provost’s Procedure for Student Complaints. The two exceptions are (i) the President’s Procedure for Addressing Students’ Complaints of Racial or Ethnic Harassment that is available as an alternative to the Provost’s Procedure for any complaint of racial or ethnic harassment against any member of the Yale community and (ii) the Police Advisory Board’s hearing procedure which supersedes this Procedure for complaints brought by students about the conduct of University police officers.
In a case where more than one procedure is available, a student may pursue his or her complaint by means of only one procedure; that is, procedures for redress of a student’s complaint may not be used simultaneously or seriatim. Furthermore the Provost’s Procedure for Student Complaints does not serve as a means to appeal a decision rendered as a result of another procedure.
3This and subsequent references to the Dean shall refer to the Dean or his or her designee. For a complaint of sex discrimination or discrimination on the basis of a disability, the Dean’s investigation will be undertaken in concert, respectively, with the Title IX Coordinator in the Dean’s School or the University’s 504 Coordinator.
4The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Student Grievances will be an ad hoc committee composed of six members appointed by the Provost. There will be two student members: one from Yale College and one from the Graduate or Professional Schools. There will be at least two faculty members appointed to the Committee. The remaining two members may be administrators, staff members, other faculty members, or other individuals employed by the University. In appointing the non-student members of the committee, the Provost will strive to rotate the membership over the years to represent broadly the Schools and various academic and administrative Departments.
The complainant and person against whom the complaint is lodged will have the right to challenge individual members of the Advisory Committee where such challenge is for cause (e.g., close personal contact with one of the parties). Peremptory challenges will not be entertained. The Advisory Committee, excluding that person being challenged, will decide the disputed issues in cases of challenge, and its decision will not be subject to appeal. When members are excused or are otherwise unavailable to participate in the deliberations or have been successfully challenged for cause, the Provost will designate substitutes to serve for the duration of the pending case.
5In a case where a student in the Law School is a complainant or where a member of the Law School faculty is a respondent, the other party may be accompanied by another student, administrator or faculty member of the School.