Resolving student complaints

Andrew Wilson/Reporter

If a student has a complaint or a grievance against a faculty member or concerning an issue, the student may file a grievance with the Dean of Student Engagement and Retention Office, located on the second floor of the Harvin Student Center.

Sandra Valerio, acting dean of Student Engagement and Retention, said students who want to file a complaint should think about what they want resolved. Valerio said that the purpose of a complaint should be “to generate change and to make our campus a better place for everyone.”

According to DMC’s Student Complaint Policy, one important factor in the filing of a complaint is that the student does not abuse the process by filing a complaint “in bad faith or for the purpose of harassment.”

Before filing a complaint formally, Valerio said students should to try to work out the issue at the closest level possible. “If you really want something to change, then you need to go talk to that person or write them a letter.”

Valerio strongly recommends that students try to resolve the issue with all parties involved before filing a formal complaint. She said that most issues can be taken care of with this kind of personal interaction.

If this interaction does not resolve the problem, then a formal complaint can still be filed. There are three types of complaint that students can file, non-academic, academic non-grade, and a grade appeal. The non-academic complaint is when students have a grievance not related to their grade or related to a matter that happened in the classroom.

The academic non-grade complaint concerns matters relating to something that happens in the classroom that does not affect the student’s grade.

The last kind of complaint is a grade appeal when students believe they unjustly received a grade in a class. There are five main reasons why a student may file this type of complaint.

As defined by the Student Complaint Policy, the five reasons are: “A mathematical error in calculation of the grade or clerical error in recording of the grade that remains uncorrected; the assignment of a grade to a particular student by application of more exacting requirements than were applied to other students in the course; the assignment of a grade to a particular student on some basis other than performance in the course; the assignment of a grade by a substantial departure from the faculty member’s previously announced standards; and when extenuating circumstances such as illness, incapacity or absences of the instructor generate uncertainty regarding appropriateness of the grade assigned.”

Though not covered by the process above, all sexual harassment and discrimination complaints are taken seriously and are also handled by the Dean of Student Engagement and Retention who is the District Complaint Coordinator.

Valerio said that in every conflict, the college tries to find a solution that satisfies both parties. For more information about student complaints, consult the Del Mar College Student Handbook and the Student Complaint Policy.


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