Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

MSU Billings Student Policies & Procedures Handbook

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Part IV.  Student Complaint Procedures

  1. General Procedures
    When a student has a concern about the action of a particular individual or department, the complaint initially should be directed to the person(s) responsible for the individual or department as noted in the University organizational structure.  Certain expeditious procedures to redress specific complaints are outlined on the following pages.
  2. Access to Personal Records
    Policy and procedures concerning student records are based on respect for the privacy of the individual.  Guidelines governing student access to individual records and procedures for challenging information on these records can be found in Part III of the Student Policies and Procedures Handbook.
  3. Traffic and Parking Complaints
    All students driving a car and parking on campus must register that vehicle and display the proper parking permit.  Students may appeal violation citations to the University Police Office and file a notice of appeal.  Bonds must be posted in the same amount as the fine that would be imposed.  Appeals are heard and decided upon by the Montana State University Billings Traffic Appeals Board.  A copy of Montana State University Billings Traffic and Parking Regulations is on file at the Montana State University Billings University Police Office.
  4. Financial Aid
    Specific rules, regulations, and eligibility requirements for obtaining and maintaining financial aid can be found in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.  A summary can be found in the General Bulletin.  All complaints should be sent in writing to the Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships.
  5. Race, National Origin, Sex, Age, or Religious Discrimination
    Montana State University Billings is committed to providing an environment that emphasizes the dignity and worth of every member of its community and that is free from harassment and discrimination based upon race, color, religion, national origin, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran’s status, sex, age, political ideas, marital or family status, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Such an environment is necessary to a healthy learning, working, and living atmosphere because discrimination and harassment undermine human dignity and the positive connection among all people at our University. Acts of discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation will be addressed consistent with the Policy on Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation.

    All complaints regarding discrimination in the areas covered under this section, if not otherwise resolved, should be registered with the Human Resources/EEO-AA/Title IX Coordinator Office, McMullen Hall 310, Phone (406) 657-2278. http://www.montana.edu/policy/discrimination/procedures/
  6. Sexual Harassment
    Sexual Harassment includes: unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including sexual misconduct. Sexual harassment, including sexual misconduct, can involve persons of the same or opposite sex. Sexual harassment occurs when the terms or conditions of employment, educational benefits, academic grades or opportunities, living environment or participation in a University program is conditioned upon, either explicitly or implicitly, submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or such submission or rejection is a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a University program.  Sexual Harassment also includes hostile environment harassment based on sex which is severe, pervasive, or persistent and interferes with academic performance.  Anyone with questions or concerns about sex discrimination or harassment or who believes they have been a victim can use the link below to contact Title IX Coordinator and review policy. The grievance procedure. .Policy violations include retaliation against an individual for taking any of the actions in support of the policy as defined in Section 128.00 of the Policy.

    Sexually Explicit Materials in the Workplace
    In keeping with its policy on sexual harassment, Montana State University Billings desires to create a working environment for employees and a learning environment for students which is free of sexual harassment and intimidation.  Materials such as calendars, posters, post cards, photographs, and cartoons which contain sexually explicit images or language can create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment and may subject persons of either sex to humiliation, embarrassment or discomfort.  Such materials are inappropriate and should be removed from the workplace.

    This policy applies to space provided by the University such as offices, shops, classrooms, hallways, lounges, computer labs (including the Information Commons located on the lower level of the Library), and study carrels.

    This policy does not apply to: (1) libraries, resource rooms, research collections; (2) materials related to course content or assignments; (3) displays and exhibits in galleries and museums; or (4) private rooms or family housing units which are rented from the University.

    Complaints regarding sexually explicit materials in the workplace should be filed with the Human Resources/EEO-AA/Title IX Coordinator Office, McMullen Hall 310, Phone (406) 657-2278.  Students’ failure to comply with this policy may be a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, and may subject a student to disciplinary action.
  7. Student Employment
    Montana State University Billings is an equal opportunity employer.  Students should initiate discrimination complaints with the Office of Human Resources.  The Equal Opportunity policy can be found in the Affirmative Action Plan located in the Offices of the Administrative Vice Chancellor, Provost, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Human Resources, and the Library.
  8. Students with Disabilities
    Montana State University Billings does not discriminate on the basis of disability in employment or in access to programs.

    Students with disabilities have the right to access programs and services at Montana State University Billings as stated in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, which states:

    “No otherwise qualified disabled individual . . . shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance . . .” and in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which states:  “ . . . no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity . . . no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.”

    Students with disabilities have the responsibility to identify themselves and request appropriate accommodations and reasonable modifications and are encouraged to contact Disability Support Services in the Academic Support Center, Room 10, (406) 657-2283 (V/TTY/VP).  Employees with disabilities are encouraged to address questions to the Human Resources Office, McMullen Hall, Room 310, (406) 657-2278.

    If students with disabilities have a complaint, prior to filing a formal grievance, they are encouraged to attempt to resolve any problems relating to the stated provisions of Section 504 of the ADA directly with the individual(s) involved, or seek advice and/or assistance from the Director of Disability Support Services.  Students will find that most situations can be effectively addressed in this manner.

    To file a formal grievance, students may obtain the ADA grievance procedure from the Director of Disability Support Services or the Director of Human Resources.

    Any student seeking remedy on the basis of disability must register as a person with a disability with the Director of Disability Support Services and must provide all required documentation of disability.  Contact Disability Support Services for more information about Montana State University Billings’ policy concerning documentation.
  9. Resident/Non-Resident Classification
    The residency status of a student is set by policy established by the Board of Regents.  A copy of the regulations used to interpret and establish residency status is available in the Office of Admissions and Records.  A summary of the policy can be found in the General Bulletin.  Complaints regarding residency status should be filed with the Office of Admissions and Records, which will make a determination. Contested decisions are heard by the Chancellor. 
  10. Student Resolution Officer
    The Associated Students of Montana State University Billings (ASMSUB) employ a Student Resolution Officer (SRO) to assist students with various academic and non-academic questions and concerns.  The purpose of the Student Resolution Officer is to help students resolve problems at the lowest possible organizational level, refer them to the appropriate University officer for assistance if necessary, and provide support and guidance to them as they follow the student complaint resolution procedure. The Student Resolution Officer (SRO) is located in the ASMSU Billings Student Senate Office in the Student Union Building, Room 213, and can be contacted at 657-2365.
  11. Student Complaint Resolution Procedure
    When a student has good cause to believe that he/she has a complaint, he/she may utilize the following procedure.  The student should meet with the Student Resolution Officer (SRO) to discuss the complaint, clarify the details of the complaint, identify a desired resolution to the complaint, and submit written documentation to clearly state the nature of the complaint.  Complaints of sexual harassment (including sexual violence) by students will be referred to the Title IX Coordinator/Human Resources Office, McMullen Hall 310, Phone (406) 657-2278.

    “Complainant,” when used in this section, refers to the student making the complaint.  The individual(s) upon whose action the complaint is based (respondent) has the right and obligation to attend complaint resolution meetings.  Failure of either party(s) to attend reasonably scheduled meetings or hearings shall constitute forfeiture of the right to participate in the complaint resolution process at that step.  The SRO can help schedule and confirm meetings.  In such instances the Campus Hearing Committee shall proceed as indicated in Step IV.

    Step I - The student, after meeting with the SRO, will confer with the faculty or staff member against whom the complaint exists.  If resolution cannot be reached through discussion, the complaint must be put in writing to ensure that all parties understand the issues. 

    Step II - If the student feels the complaint is unresolved after the Step I meeting, the student must then attempt a resolution through discussion with the Department Chair (or supervisor in the case of a staff member) or, in the event the complaint is against a Department Chair or supervisor, with the appropriate Dean or Vice Chancellor.  This meeting must take place within ten (10) University business days of the Step I conference with the faculty or staff member and written documentation from Step I must be provided.

    Step III - If the student feels that the complaint is unresolved after the Step II meeting, the student shall request a meeting with the appropriate next-level supervisor (Dean, Provost, Vice Chancellor) in an effort to informally resolve the complaint through discussion.  This meeting must take place within fifteen (15) University business days of the Step II meeting or within twenty-five (25) University business days of the Step I meeting.  In the case that the Step II meeting was with a Dean or Vice Chancellor, the process will move directly to Step IV.

    Step IV - If the complainant feels that the complaint is unresolved after the Step III meeting, the complainant may, within ten (10) University business days, file the written complaint as a formal complaint with the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will review the complaint and make and will contact the Complainant and SRO regarding outcome.  The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs can refer the complaint to the Chancellor for final determination or resolution.   In the event the complaint is against the Chancellor, the final disposition of the complaint rests with the President of Montana State University.

    PLEASE NOTE: Online students who are distant from campus will participate in this process via telephone and teleconference in Steps I, II and III.  In the case of a Step IV complaint, other technology may be employed or the student may choose to physically come to campus for the hearing.

    A complaint against a faculty member shall not result in the forfeiture of said faculty member’s rights as protected under the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Montana State University Billings Faculty Association and the Montana University System.
  12. Grade Appeal Procedure
    Montana State University Billings has a set of procedures for contesting a grade which must be followed for appropriate resolution.  The student must understand that they cannot appeal a grade after fifteen (15) University business days from the official release date of those grades.  All documentation must be in writing and submitted to the instructor and Student Resolution Officer (SRO) (see Part IV. J.).

    Step I – The student must meet with or attempt to make appropriate contact (email, phone, office hours, etc.) with their instructor to discuss their reasons for the grade appeal within fifteen (15) business days from the official release date of those grades.  Documentation supporting their claim should be made available at this meeting.  The University would like to have the student and the instructor discuss the details, in a reasonable, open manner, and formulate an agreeable resolution.

    Step II – If the initial meeting (or attempt to meet) with their instructor did not provide an agreeable resolution, the student must then contact the ASMSU Billings Student Resolution Officer and schedule a time for them and the SRO to meet and discuss the reasons for the appeal.  The SRO can then help schedule a meeting between the student and the instructor of the course they are contesting or, if Step I was not successful, can help move the appeal to Step III.  The student must submit any documentation supporting your claim and a copy of the course syllabus to the SRO.  This information should be presented at the meeting with the instructor.  The instructor will submit a formal decision to the student, in writing, within fifteen (15) University business days.  A copy of the letter must be sent to the SRO.

    Step III – If no resolution is achieved at Step I or II, the dispute may be brought to the Department Chair of the relevant department (if the dispute is with the Department Chair, then refer to Step IV).  The student must submit all documentation and a letter of appeal to the Department Chair within ten (10) University business days after receipt of the formal decision by the instructor.  The student will then schedule a meeting with the Department Chair.  The Chair will submit a formal decision to the student, in writing, within fifteen (15) University business days.  A copy of the letter must be sent to the SRO and the vice provost for Academic Affairs (VPAA).

    Step IV – If no resolution is achieved at Step III, the dispute may be brought to the Dean of the relevant college.  The student must submit all documentation and a letter of appeal to the Dean within ten (10) University business days after receipt of the formal decision by the Chair.  The student will then schedule a meeting with the Dean at which the SRO will be present.  The Dean, as the representative of the relevant college, has the authority to review all documentation, discuss the matter with the instructor and Department Chair, and formulate a resolution.  The Dean will submit a formal decision to the student, in writing, within fifteen (15) University business days.  A copy of the letter must be sent to the SRO and the VPAA.

    Step V – If no resolution is achieved at Step IV and the student wish to appeal further, the dispute may be brought before the vice provost for Academic Affairs.  The student must submit a letter of appeal to the VPAA within ten (10) University business days after receipt of the formal decision by the Dean.  The VPAA will review all grade appeal materials and documentation, and determine if the appeal needs to be heard by a Campus Hearing Committee.  The Campus Hearing Committee is comprised of a maximum of three students chosen by the Associated Students of Montana State University Billings (ASMSUB), three faculty members chosen by the VPAA from a pool of faculty members who serve on the Academic Senate Academic Standards Committee, and the VPAA, who shall serve as the Hearing Officer.  The Hearing Officer will not vote during the proceedings except in the case of a tie vote.  The Campus Hearing Committee will follow prescribed hearing procedures and make a recommendation to the Chancellor who makes the final decision.  The Chancellor will then have fifteen (15) University business days to send a formal and final decision to the student.
  13. Due Process
    The University’s academic and non-academic (personal/organizational) discipline codes, procedures and appeals processes are outlined in Part IX of the Student Policies and Procedures Handbook.

Next: Part V.  Chartering & Registration Procedures for Student Organizations