This policy applies to William & Mary as a whole university, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (the university). Information regarding the filing of certain complaints by prospective students, the provision of which is federally mandated, is also provided herein.
II. Purpose and Policy Statement
This policy defines official written student complaints and provides procedures for reporting such complaints at the university.
Compliance is required by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Non-compliance may result in loss of Title IV eligibility, negative accreditation-related action resulting from non-compliance with the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation, and/or loss of eligibility to participate in Virginia-SARA and NC-SARA and to offer programming to students outside of Virginia.
Written Student Complaint means those complaints falling into one of the five specific categories of complaints and which are reported according to existing university policy or by using the appropriate reporting form on the university’s Report Concerns or Violations webpage.
The Five Categories of Complaints Constituting Official Written Student Complaints
- Sexual Misconduct/Title IX reports
- Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation reports
- Free Speech concerns
- Hazing reports
- Other official written student complaints
Student, for purposes of this policy, means an individual who has enrolled at the university and who maintains an active student status within the university’s student information system.
Prospective student means as an individual who has applied or has indicated, in writing or electronically, an intent to apply to the university.
The terms “student” and “prospective student” are distinct groups for purposes of this policy. The use of the word “student” does not imply inclusion of “prospective students” within this policy.
Students who wish to file an official written complaint must do so by following appropriate procedures as outlined in the Procedures section of this policy. Complaints not filed pursuant to the procedures outlined in this policy shall not be designated as an official Written Student Complaint. Nothing in this policy shall prohibit students from seeking informal resolution of a concern, grievance, or complaint by contacting directly one or more appropriate units within the university.
The Office of Compliance & Equity shall ensure the ongoing monitoring, logging, and resolution of all official written student complaints and shall maintain a complete and accurate log of all official written student complaints. Logs shall be provided to the Office of the Provost and the Office of Institutional Accreditation & Effectiveness (IAE) upon request. Logs may be redacted of identifying student/employee information if necessary or required by law.
University employees who receive complaints from students through means other than those provided for in the Procedures section of this policy shall not be required to re-route or treat such complaints as official written student complaints.
If an employee involved in processing or resolving official written complaints receives such a complaint about themselves, they must forward the complaint to their supervisor immediately and must recuse themselves from any further involvement in the complaint.
The Code of Federal Regulations in 34 CFR 668.43(b) requires that institutions make available to enrolled students and to prospective students the contact information for filing complaints with the institution’s accreditor and with its State approval or licensing entity. The university makes this information available in the Procedure section below. However, these types of complaints do not meet the university’s definition of an official written student complaint.
A. Filing Official Student Complaints at the University
This section of the policy applies to students only.
Discrimination, harassment, and retaliation complaints by students must be made according to the university's Student Discrimination and Title IX Complaint Procedure.
Title IX/Sexual Harassment complaints by students must be made according to the university's Student Discrimination and Title IX Complaint Procedure.
Hazing complaints, Free Speech complaints, and other Official Written Student Complaints by a student must be submitted by the student using the appropriate complaint form published on W&M’s Report Concerns or Violations webpage.
Students with appropriate, documented accommodations who may need assistance with filing official written student complaints may obtain assistance through Student Accessibility Services within the Dean of Students Office.
B. Filing Unofficial Student Complaints with Entities External to the University
This section of the policy applies to students and to prospective students.
Filing Complaints with SACSCOC, the university's Accreditor
The College of William & Mary in Virginia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award bachelor's, master's, education specialist, and doctoral degrees. William & Mary also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of William & Mary may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on the SACSCOC website.
Filing Complaints with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV)
If an issue cannot be resolved by the university’s internal processes, students may file a complaint with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). SCHEV’s Student Complaints website states:
“If a student has exhausted the avenues provided by the institution and the complaint has not been resolved internally, the student can submit a “Student Complaint Form” to SCHEV. Upon receiving a completed form, SCHEV will open an investigation if the matter being disputed falls within its authority. If preliminary findings indicate a violation of SCHEV regulations by the institution, SCHEV shall attempt to resolve the complaint through mediation. All parties will be notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation.
Please note that SCHEV has no authority or role regarding issues of employment law, claims of discrimination, or instances of suspected consumer fraud. Such complaints should be directed to the appropriate state or federal agency.”
Student complaints to SCHEV can be filed using the procedures published in the “Complaint Process” section of SCHEV’s Student Complaints website.
SARA and Non-SARA State Complaint Processes
William & Mary has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Students who reside outside of Virginia but in another SARA state while taking courses at William & Mary may file complaints with the Virginia SARA portal entity, SCHEV. See “Filing Complaints with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV)” above.
W&M students engaged in learning outside Virginia with complaints not resolved through all applicable university and state processes may file complaints with the state in which they reside, using information provided by NC-SARA’s Student Complaint Information by State webpage.
Non-SARA state complaints may be filed with the state portal entity in the state where the student is located.
Enforcement of this policy shall be overseen by the Office of Compliance & Equity.
VII. Authority and Amendment, Implementation
This policy is approved by the Executive Leadership Team in accordance with the Policies & Procedures on Creating and Maintaining Whole University Policies.