Complaint Policy and Procedure for Students
Southern Adventist University is committed to respecting and caring for all members of the university community and providing fair treatment regarding complaints by students. The objective of the Student Complaint Policy and Procedure is to ensure that concerns and complaints of undergraduate or graduate students are addressed fairly and are resolved promptly. Complaints usually involve actions affecting students that are alleged to be unjust, inequitable, or create unnecessary hardship. A student may pursue this complaint procedure if he or she believes a problem is not governed by other complaint or appeal procedures at the university.
Southern Adventist University seeks to provide students, staff, and faculty with a safe and secure learning environment, free of crime and/or violations motivated by discrimination or sexual and other bias-related harassment. There are two important complaint processes not governed by this Student Complaint Policy and Procedure: 1) the Sexual Harassment, Sexual Offenses, and Retaliation policy found in the Student Handbook and 2) the Academic Grievance Procedure found in the Catalog. These types of complaints should be filed according to the procedures described in those policies.
When a concern occurs, the student is encouraged to discuss it directly with the appropriate employee such as the pattern set before us in Matthew 18:15. Often a resolution or an answer can be attained informally. If an informal approach is neither successful nor advisable, the student should use this Student Complaint Policy and Procedure. If your complaint involves accreditation, licensure of a specific program, or you are an out-ot-state student in an online program in addition to following the procedure below please reference the "Other Complaints" section at the bottom of the page. The procedure for filing student complaints governed by this policy is as follows:
To submit a complaint, a student must complete the official Student Complaint Form and send it via email attachment within ten working days from the date of the initiating event. The form should be sent to the appropriate faculty member or supervisor who is over the area in which the complaint occurred (if the complaint is directed against that faculty member or supervisor, then it should be referred to the next highest level administrator). The faculty member or supervisor will attempt to determine the validity of the complaint and, in the case of a valid complaint, seek resolution including any necessary action. He or she will communicate his or her decision to the student on the Student Complaint Form and make every effort to do so within ten working days from the conclusion of the decision-making process.
If a student wishes to appeal the decision made in Step 1, he or she must submit the additional Student Complaint Appeal Form A along with the completed Student Complaint Form via email attachment within ten working days from the
date of the decision being appealed. These forms should be sent to the director, chair, or dean who is over the area in which the complaint occurred (or to the next highest level administrator in relation to the first submission). The student will be invited to discuss the complaint with that individual who will attempt to determine the validity of the complaint and, in the case of a valid complaint, seek resolution, including possible administrative action. The administrator will communicate his or her decision on Student Complaint Appeal Form A and make every effort to inform the student within ten working days of the conclusion of this appeal.
If the student believes that he or she has not been afforded due process, the student must submit Student Complaint Appeal Form B together with Student Complaint Appeal Form A and the Student Complaint Form via email attachment within ten working days from the date of the decision being appealed. These forms should be sent to the vice president who is over the area in which the complaint occurred. The vice president will make the final determination about the matter and will communicate the decision on Student Complaint Appeal Form B making every effort to reply to the student within ten working days from the conclusion of this appeal. The determination will include reasons for the decision and direct a remedy, if any, to the student complaint.
A record of all complaints and their resolution will be documented at each level of the review process by the appropriate administrator. In order for the university to monitor complaints/responses and to meet accreditation requirements, employees
Complaints relating to quality of education or accreditation requirements shall be referred to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), (http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/complaintpolicy.pdf);
Complaints related to the application of state laws or rules related to approval to operate or licensure of a particular professional program within a postsecondary institution shall be referred to the appropriate State Board (i.e., State Boards of Health, State Board of Education, and so on) within the Tennessee State Government and shall be reviewed and handled by that licensing board (http://www.tn.gov, and then search for the appropriate division);
Complaint Resolution Policies and Procedures for Non-Tennessee Resident Students in State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement States (SARA) - Student complaints relating to consumer protection laws that involve distance learning education offered under the terms and conditions of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), must first be filed with the institution to seek resolution.
Complainants not satisfied with the outcome of the Institution's internal process may appeal, within two years of the incident about which the complaint is made, to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (https://www.tn.gov/thec/bureaus/student-aid-and-compliance/postsecondary-state-authorization/request-for-complaint-review.html).
For purposes of this process, a complaint shall be defined as a formal assertion in writing that the terms of SARA or the laws, standards or regulations incorporated by the SARA Policies and Standards (http://www.nc-sara.org/content/sara-manual) have been violated by the institution operating under the terms of SARA.
For a list of SARA member States, please visit the NC-SARA website (http://nc-sara.org/sara-states-institutions). Students residing in non-SARA states should consult their respective State of residence for further instruction for filing a complaint.