Complaint Procedures 4.401
Elgin Community College acknowledges that a student or group of students may have a difference of opinion with regard to policies, practices and procedures of the College. Assurance is given by Community College District 509 that should genuine grievances arise, students adhering to the following procedures have the right to a hearing and resolution of complaints in a prompt and fair manner without fear of retribution.
This Student Complaint Procedure is not intended to limit the options of the College or of a student or group of students, but to resolve any difference mutually and informally. Copies of this procedure are available in the offices of the Counseling Center, Student Life, vice presidents, deans and directors. Students seeking procedural assistance may contact the Dean of Students or his/her designee.
Types of Complaints
Students may file a complaint for the following allegations:
- Academic regulations (Specific regulations may have specific procedures. The Dean of Students can assist in identifying these.)
- Administration of ECC policy, practices, or procedures.
- Official Incident Reports from ECC Police detailing on campus incidents may be considered as complaints.
- Disciplinary charges (Administrative Procedure 4.402 Student Code of Conduct)
- Complaints about treatment of students by college employees (Filing a Complaint Against a College Employee)
- Discrimination because of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, disability or national origin in regard to programs, courses, activities, facilities, financial aid, or student employment (The process begins with a meeting with the EEO/AA Officer in the President’s Office)
- Sexual harassment (Administrative Procedure 3.403 Sexual Harassment)
- Disabilities accommodations (Administrative Procedure 3.501 Individuals with Disabilities)
Filing a Complaint Against a College Employee
Every attempt will be made to resolve a complaint informally at the point of origin (instructor, advisor, staff person). The procedures are listed in sequence as follows. The student can request support from the Dean of Students or Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services or the support person of his/her choice in this process:
- Within 20 school days of the situation, the student contacts with the individual or group with whom he/she has a complaint, in an attempt to resolve the issue.
- If there is no resolution of the issue, the student forwards the complaint in writing to the supervisor of the individual named in the complaint. The incident or situation should be described as specifically and completely as possible. A statement of the relief necessary to resolve the situation must be stated. It is the responsibility of the student to provide sufficient and tangible documentation or evidence to support his/her allegation.
Because the complaint involves a college employee, the supervisor should consult with the Managing Director of Human Resources to ensure that the interface between the student’s right to a hearing of his/her complaint is balanced with the employee’s contractual protections. The supervisor must respond to the student within 10 school days. Responses may include investigation and dismissal of the charge, mediation, discipline, or other. Confidentiality of personnel records prevents the outcome being reported to the complainant in most cases.
Filing a Complaint Against a Student
Any member of the college community may file charges against any student for misconduct. A charge involving a student must be filed in writing with the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services within twenty (20) days of the alleged incident. The Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services must forward a copy of the charge to the Dean of Students. The Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services must also notify the student accused of the infraction.
The Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services will make a preliminary investigation of the charge or the complaint to determine if the charges have merit and/or if they can be disposed of by mutual consent of the parties involved on a basis acceptable to the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services. If the charges cannot be disposed of by mutual consent, the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services may, after investigation, decide to warn and inform the student(s) involved, dismiss the charge, or call for a hearing.
Either party, the complainant or the accused, may waive the investigation and go directly to a hearing. The Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services will inform the person accused of the investigation decision in writing either in person or by certified mail. A student may appeal the decision of the investigation and request a hearing.
In certain circumstances, the Dean of Students or a designee may impose an interim suspension prior to a hearing before a disciplinary hearing board. Interim suspension may be imposed only to ensure the safety and well-being of a member of the College community or preservation of College property; to ensure the student's own physical or emotional safety and well-being or if a student poses a definite threat of disruption or interference with the normal operation of the College.
During interim suspension, a student may be denied access to the campus (including classes) and/or other College activities or privileges for which the student might otherwise be eligible as the Dean of Students may determine to be appropriate.
The Dean of Students or her/his designee will notify the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services and the Campus Security Office within one working day after a student has been put on interim suspension.
The Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services will set a hearing date as soon as practicable. The Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services will notify the student by certified mail of the interim suspension and the date of the hearing, as well as the hearing procedural information.
The college shall have a Student Affairs Committee to ensure due process for all students. Membership of the committee shall be composed of the following members appointed by the President of the College:
- One or two faculty member(s)
- One or two members of the support staff
- One administrative member
- One or two student member(s) appointed by the Student Government or Student Life in the event of a conflict of interest
- The chair of the Student Affairs Committee and non-voting member will be the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services.
Functions of the Committee are to hear from a student charged with an infraction that may result in disciplinary action; to make a recommendation to the Dean of Students based only on evidence introduced at the hearing and to recommend one or more of the following sanctions:
- Dismissal of the complaint
- A written reprimand
- An obligation to make restitution or reimbursement
- A suspension or termination of particular student privileges
- Disciplinary probation
- Suspension from the College
- Expulsion from the College
- Any combination of the above sanctions
Any member of the Student Affairs Committee may excuse him/herself from serving if he or she identifies a conflict of interest in serving. The committee member must secure a substitute and inform the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services prior to the hearing.
Procedures for Hearings
At least seven school days prior to the date set for a hearing before the Committee, the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services shall send a certified letter to the student's last known address providing the student with the following information:
- A restatement of the charge or charges
- The time and place of the hearing
- A statement of the student's procedural rights
On written request of the student, the hearing may be held prior to the expiration of the seven day advance notification period, if the Dean of Students concurs with this change.
Procedural Rights of Students include the following:
- The right to counsel or advisement. The role of the person acting as counsel or advisor is solely to advise the student. The counsel or advisor speaks only to the charged student; not to the Student Affairs Committee. The school is not responsible for providing counsel for students. This is a disciplinary hearing, not a trial.
- The right to produce witnesses, documentation, and evidence. The student shall be allowed to present relevant documentation and to produce pertinent witnesses to the incident/issue.
- The right to information. All relevant records, not restricted for official use, will be made available to the student (s) for use as documentation in the hearing. A request for relevant records must allow due time for processing and must not be in violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which is described in the ECC catalog.
- The right to privacy during the hearing. All procedures and meetings including name and related information will be confidential unless otherwise mutually agreed upon by the student(s) and College authorities.
- Right to no reprisals or retaliation. Student(s) who are involved in a disciplinary procedure will not be subjected to reprisals, retaliation or different treatment because of their participation.
- The right to know the identity of the person(s) bringing the charges.
- The right to hear witnesses on behalf of the person bringing the charges.
- The right to testify or to refuse to testify without such refusal being detrimental to the student.
The Conduct of Committee Hearings
Hearings before the Committee shall be confidential and shall be closed to all persons except the following: Student, Advisor/Counsel, Witnesses who shall be defined as persons related to the incident, who are allowed to give testimony singularly and in the absence of the other witnesses and leave the hearing meeting room immediately upon completion of the testimony.
The hearing will be taped until the committee goes into closed session. A record of the open session will be prepared by the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services. The tape will be erased at the end of the hearing or the appeal (if one occurs).
The recommendation of the Student Affairs Committee will be submitted to the Dean of Students by the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services who writes up the narrative of the process and forwards the recommendation and the narrative to the Dean of Students.
The Dean of Students will advise the complainant and the accuser in writing of his/her determination and of the sanction(s) imposed, if any, within five (5) days.
The Dean of Students may impose any one or a combination of the following disciplinary sanctions. The sanctions that may be imposed will include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Disciplinary Warning:This is a strong, written warning that the same conduct or other conduct in violation of the Elgin Community College Code of Student Conduct during that student's enrollment at the College shall result in additional disciplinary action. A copy of the Disciplinary Warning will be placed in the student's confidential file maintained in the Dean of Students Office for five (5) years from the disposition of the case.
- Disciplinary Probation:A student on disciplinary probation may continue to attend classes but may not participate in any student activities or intercollegiate activities during the period of Disciplinary Probation. Probation is for a designated period of time. Any further violations of the Student Code of Conduct may lead to suspension or expulsion from the College.
- Restitution: A student may be required to pay for the repair or replacement cost for any damage he or she causes to property, real or personal. A student may be required to provide specific in-kind services.
- Educational Sanction: A student may be required to participate in a specific program(s), either of an educational nature or counseling nature, including but not limited to instruction or research. The student is responsible for all expenses arising out or related to the requirements of this Sanction, including expenses for education, counseling or treatment, where such expenses are incurred.
- Exclusion from College Facilities or Activities: A student may be prohibited from attending one or more classes or courses, undertaking College employment, entering a building, participating in some or all extra-curricular activities sponsored by the College, representing the College in an official capacity, or using other services provided by the College. Such exclusion shall be for either:
- a definite period of time
- until certain requirements placed on the student are completed, or
- Disciplinary Suspension: A student may be suspended from the College for a specific period of time. Such suspension shall include disenrollment and denial of attendance at any classes and participation in any College-sponsored activities and employment with the College during the term of suspension. The student may be readmitted upon completion of the suspension.
- Expulsion: Where a student has committed very serious violations of the Elgin Community College Code of Student Conduct and/or has a record of multiple violations and/or disciplinary actions, the student may be dismissed from Elgin Community College permanently.
More than one of the sanctions listed above may be imposed for any single violation.
Disciplinary sanctions shall not be made part of the student's permanent academic record, but shall become part of the student's confidential record.
A disciplinary record will be maintained in the Dean of Students’ office for five (5) years after final disposition of the case.
The following sanctions may be imposed upon groups or organizations:
- Disciplinary Sanctions listed previously, plus
- Deactivation: Loss of all privileges, including college recognition, for a specified period of time.
In each case in which a disciplinary hearing committee determines that a group or organization has violated the Student Discipline Procedure, the sanction(s) will be recommended by the Student Affairs Committee and communicated by the Associate Dean of Counseling and Career Services who writes up the narrative to the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students is not limited to sanctions recommended by members of the disciplinary body. Following the hearing the Dean of Students will advise the complainants and the accuser in writing of the determination and the sanction(s) imposed, if any, within five (5) school days.
The student has the right to appeal the decision according to the Administrative Procedure 4.408 Appeal.
Record of Complaint
After the process is concluded, all records will be filed in the Dean of Students office for a period of five (5) years.