Student Grievance

Virginia Christian University is committed to providing an environment in which its faculty, staff, students, administrators, and other constituents are treated fairly with courtesy, respect, and dignity. VACU seeks to exist as a Christian university community. Communication in which there is Christian respect for individuals and groups that comprise this community is the basic ingredient of developing this relationship.

It is the aim of the university to resolve all complaints, including but not limited to, grade disputes, alleged sexual harassment or any other form of complaints in a manner that is fair and just to all persons involved. For this end, it has been established the Grievance Committee, composed of representatives from faculty, administration and student government. The Student Dean of VACU serves as the chair of Grievance Committee.

Definition of Student Grievance

A grievance is a complaint arising out of any alleged unauthorized or unjustified act or decision by a student, faculty member, administrator, or staff personnel, which may adversely affects the status, rights or privileges of a member of the student body.

Student Grievance Procedure and Process

Procedure

All complaints against a faculty member or staff of the university, grade disputes, or disciplinary action taken against the student must be in writing. When preparing a formal appeal to the Grievance Committee, following information should be documented and submitted to the chair of the committee.

  1. Nature of the Complaint or dispute;
  2. Date the alleged dispute or problem occurred;
  3. Names of the individuals involved; and
  4. Copies of all relevant documents.

Grievance procedure is made up of several stages. At all stages of the process, the complainant and/or respondent have the right to be represented by a third person (such as family member, friend, counselor or other professional support person) if they so desire. At all stages of the process, reasons and a full explanation in writing for decisions and actions taken as part of the procedures must be given if so requested by the complainant and/or respondent.

In accordance with Matthew 18:15, it is the Christian’s responsibility in areas of personal grievances, as distinguished from policy or principle, to first discuss his or her grievances with the other party in the dispute in private. The University will adhere to this responsibility in resolving grievances, except where the grievance involves allegations of wrongful actions that are sensitive in nature (such as allegations of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, or physical or emotional abuse) where the student would feel threatened discussing his or her grievance with the other party in the dispute in private. In such instances, the process should be initiated by the student by taking the grievance to the immediate supervisor of the other party in the dispute, in accordance with the processes enumerated below.

Student Grievance Procedure Process

The following procedures enumerate VACU’s means of resolving a student’s justifiable cause for grievance. Justifiable cause for grievance shall be defined as any act that, in the opinion of the student, adversely affects the student, causing an uncomfortable situation or complaint and calls for action, and is perceived as capricious, prejudicial, or arbitrary action on the part of any university faculty, staff member, administrator or student; or any arbitrary or unfair imposition of sanction or policy that undermines and detracts from the student’s educational experience, effectively denying the student equal and fair access to the institution’s resources and opportunities. It should be noted that the University is requiring the grievance process to proceed through the appropriate chain-of-command. In this regard, if a grievance originates at a higher level (i.e., with a chair or other administrator) and the private Matthew 18:15 one-on-one process has not resulted in a satisfactory resolution, the grievance process shall continue at the supervisory level just above the party involved in the grievance, in accordance with the processes enumerated below.

Stage 1
The student with the complaint shall discuss the problem with the faculty member, staff person, administrator, or student who is directly involved. Together, they shall try to solve the problem through prayer, discussion, and negotiation in accordance with Biblical principles and the University’s rules, policies, and procedures. All efforts should be made to resolve the problem at this level.
Stage 2
If further resolution is deemed necessary, the student shall state the problem in writing and submit it to the Dean of the Students. The chair has 14 days to respond to the student request for resolution. However, if in the opinion of any party involved a satisfactory resolution does not result, such party in the dispute may request (within 7 days of the Dean of the students’ response) a meeting with the Dean of the students; and, the Dean of the students, working with all of the parties involved, shall (within 14 days from the date of request for a meeting) try to solve the problem through prayer, discussion, and negotiation in accordance with Biblical principles and the University’s rules, policies, and procedures.
Stage 3
If further resolution is deemed necessary by any party involved, such party in the dispute may (within 7 days of the Dean of the students’ determination) request the matter be referred to the Grievance Committee. Within 21 days of this request, the school’s Grievance Committee, shall
  1. afford the parties a hearing,
  2. submit a report of its investigation/ recommendations to the academic dean who shall work with the committee to issue a final Grievance Committee determination, and
  3. furnish a copy of the final determination to all of the parties involved.
Stage 4
The final determination of the Grievance Committee shall become full force and effect unless a party appeals the decision to the academic dean. This appeal must be filed in writing with the President within 14 days of the submission of the Grievance Committee’s final determination.