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4. Federal Requirements

Federal Requirement:

4.5 The institution has adequate procedures for addressing written student complaints and is responsible for demonstrating that it follows those procedures when resolving student complaints. (See Commission policy "Complaint Procedures against the Commission or its Accredited Institutions.") (Student complaints)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

In accordance with the responsibilities of the institutions outlined in the SACS policy of "Complaint Procedures against the Commission or Its Accredited Institutions" [1], the University of West Georgia has instituted procedures for addressing written student complaints and can demonstrate that these procedures are followed in a formal process of resolution. Student complaints are investigated in a manner which protects the confidentiality of the parties and the facts of the case to the extent allowed by applicable law.  The due process rights of all parties to a complaint are honored to the fullest extent possible and in accordance with applicable institution, system, state, and federal policy and law.   

The University of West Georgia categorizes student complaints into two major areas:   

  1. General Student Complaints and Grievances - these would include any written complaint lodged against an employee, a particular office, a policy or procedure, employer, or any other concern a student may have.
  2. Recognized Petitions and Appeals to Administrative Decisions - these would include formal process appeals to decisions that are made within the scope of normal university operations.  This category would also include Judicial Appeals.

The University of West Georgia publishes its policies and procedures on student due process rights and responsibilities broadly on the University website and in the Student Handbook, which is available both in print and online [2]. In support of student needs and to facilitate the required processes, the University of West Georgia provides a general website called UWG Cares [3] where students can access information about a variety of services meant to support them in times of concern. Additionally, the University Ombuds Office provides consultation to students in areas of mediation and conflict resolution [4], and access to the Alternative Dispute Resolution process [5] that address conflicts that may not require formal judicial intervention.    

Additionally, the University System of Georgia maintains a third party monitored, anonymous fraud and complaint hotline that records complaints, which may include complaints made by students. The link to this hotline is available through the Internal Audit & Compliance website [6], [7] and through the Legal Affairs website [8]. The University System of Georgia website for Internal Audit & Compliance disseminates the necessary information and links for the reporting of fraud, waste, and abuse [6].

In general, written student complaint procedures are made available through the University of West Georgia website and various University of West Georgia publications. For example, written student complaint procedures are found on the website for UWG Connection and Student Handbook [2], through the websites of certain departments such as the University of West Georgia Distance Education Department [9] or the University of West Georgia University Police, which links students to the forms required for reporting multiple types of complaints [10], in the Undergraduate Catalog [11], and in the Graduate Catalog [12]. Specific complaint procedures, appeal procedures, and due process procedures are outlined in separate appendices of the University of West Georgia Student Handbook [2]

The following table lists the web pages outlining policies and procedures for each type of a complaint and appeal, and the University of West Georgia publication in which they are found.   

Student Handbook / UWG Website

Undergraduate Catalog

Graduate Catalog

Academic Grade Appeals [13]

Academic Grade Appeals [11]

Academic Grade Appeals [12]

General Student Complaint [14] 

 

 

Civil Rights Grievance 1 [15]

Civil Rights Grievance 2 [16]

 

 

FERPA Appeal [17]

FERPA Appeal [18]

FERPA Appeal [19]

Admission Appeals [20]

 

Admission Appeals [21]

Board of Regents Appeal [22]

 

 

Financial Aid Appeal [23]

Financial Aid Appeal [24]

Financial Aid Appeal [25]

Housing Appeals [26]

 

 

University Hazing Policy [27]

 

 

**Complaints by Distance Learning Students [28]

 

 

Parking Code [29]

Online Parking Appeal [30]

 

 

 

Judicial Affairs - Reporting A Concern [31]

 

 

Student Organization Complaint   (pages 10-16) [32]

 

 

** According to the SACS policy on "Distance and Correspondence education" [33], online students should have adequate access to a range of services. Thus, the “Complaints by Distance Learning Students” appendix in the Student Handbook provides students with information about the rights and services available to them.

In addition to the information available through the sources discussed above, the University of West Georgia offers an optional class, UWG 1101 [34] that was developed for all students but is geared to the First-Year Experience students [35]. The course introduces students to the college experience and constantly refers them to the rights, policies, and procedures outlined in the narrative.

It should be noted that each department involved in the process retains a record of student complaints according to the policies and procedures outlined in the following document: Retaining Student Complaints [36].

Finally, the "Complaints and Resolution Table" [37] provides brief descriptions of written student complaints and resolutions. The paperwork on the complaints included in the table is also available [38].

Supporting Documentation: