Complaint Procedure 4.401
Elgin Community College acknowledges that a student or group of students, such as a student club or organization, 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 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 and form are available in the offices of the Student Success Center, Student Life, vice presidents, deans, and directors. Students seeking procedural assistance may contact the Dean of Student Services and Development or his/her designee.
1. Types of Complaints
Students may file a complaint seeking investigation and possible resolution of grievances on topics including, but not limited to, the following:
- Academic regulations. (Academic regulations may have specific procedures.)
- Privacy (See Administrative Procedure 4.103 Student Academic Records.)
- Administration of ECC policy, practices, or procedures.
- Official Incident Reports from ECC Police detailing on-campus incidents may be considered as complaints.
- Disciplinary charges. (See Administrative Procedure 4.402 Student Code of Conduct.)
- Complaints about the treatment of students by college employees. (Students filing a complaint about a college employee should follow step 2.)
- Discrimination because of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex/gender/gender identity, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other status protected by applicable federal, state, or local law in matters of admissions, programs, courses, activities, facilities, financial aid, or student employment. (The process begins with a meeting with the Title IX Officer in the President’s Office.)
- Sexual harassment. (See Administrative Procedure 3.403 Anti-Discrimination, Violence, and Retaliation Policy and Procedure (The process begins with a meeting with the Title IX Officer in the President’s Office.)
- Disabilities accommodations. (See Administrative Procedure 3.501 Individuals with Disabilities.)
2. Filing a Complaint Against a College Employee
Every attempt will be made to resolve a complaint informally at the point of origin (faculty, staff, administrator). The procedures are listed in sequence as follows. The student can request support from the Dean of Student Services and Development, Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs, or person of his/her choice in this process:
- Within 20 school days of the situation, the student communicates with the individual or group with whom the student has a complaint in an attempt to informally 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 proposed to resolve the situation must be articulated. It is the responsibility of the student to provide sufficient and tangible documentation or evidence to support their allegation.
Should the complaint have the potential to result in employee discipline, the supervisor of the employee should consult with the Chief Human Resource Officer to ensure that the interface between the student’s right to a hearing of their complaint is balanced with the employee’s contractual protections. The supervisor must respond to the student in writing within ten (10) school days after the student forwards the formal complaint to them. Responses may include investigation, dismissal of the charge, mediation, discipline, or other. Confidentiality of personnel records prevents the outcome from being reported to the complainant in most cases.
3. Filing a Complaint Against a Student
Any college community member may file charges against any student for misconduct, as defined by the Student Code of Conduct (). A charge involving a student must be filed in writing with the Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs within twenty (20) school days of the alleged incident. Official incident reports from the ECC police detailing on-campus incidents may be considered as complaints. The Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs must forward a copy of the charge to the Dean of Student Services and Development. The Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs must also notify the student accused of the infraction.
The Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs will conduct 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 Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs. If the charges cannot be disposed of by mutual consent, the Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs may, after investigation, decide to warn and inform the student(s) involved or call for a hearing.
Either party, the complainant or the accused, may waive the investigation and go directly to a hearing. The Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs will inform the accused person(s) of the decision reached following the investigation in writing, either in person or by certified mail. The student may appeal the decision of the investigation and request a hearing.
In certain circumstances, the Dean of Student Services and Development or a designee may impose an interim suspension prior to a hearing before the disciplinary hearing board. Interim suspension may be imposed only to ensure the safety and well-being of a member of the College community or any persons involved in on or off-campus learning activities, including but not limited to clinical and observation hours; to ensure the preservation of College property; to ensure the student's own physical or emotional safety and well-being or if a student poses a threat of disruption or interference with the normal operation of the College.
During interim suspension, a student may be denied both physical and virtual access to the campus (including classes) and/or other College activities or privileges, as the Dean of Student Services and Development may determine to be appropriate, for which the student might otherwise be eligible. The Dean of Student Services and Development will notify the student in writing either in person or by certified mail of the interim suspension.
The Dean of Student Services and Development or her/his designee will notify the Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs and the Campus Police Department immediately when a student has been put on interim suspension.
The Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs will set a hearing date as soon as practicable. The Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs will notify the student by certified mail with the date of the hearing, as well as the hearing procedural information.
The college shall have a Student Disciplinary Committee, the composition of which is established annually, to ensure due process for all students. Membership of the committee shall be composed of the following members, upon recommendation by their constituent groups, and 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 Disciplinary Committee and non-voting member will be the Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs
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 Student Services and Development 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 Disciplinary Committee may excuse themself from serving if that person identifies a conflict of interest in serving. The committee member must secure a substitute and inform the Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs prior to the hearing.
Procedures for Hearings
At least seven school days prior to the date set for a hearing before the Committee, the Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs shall notify the student in writing either in person or by sending 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
With approval from the student, the hearing may be held prior to the expiration of the seven-day advance notification period if the Dean of Student Services and Development 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. Students (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 audio recorded electronically until the committee goes into a closed session. A record of the open session will be prepared by the Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs. The recording will be destroyed at the end of the hearing or the appeal (if one occurs).
The Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs will write the narrative of the process and forward the recommendation of the Student Disciplinary Committee to the Dean of Student Services and Development.
The Dean of Student Services and Development will advise the complainant and the accuser in writing of his/her determination and of the sanction(s) imposed, if any, within five (5) school days.
The Dean of Student Services and Development may impose any one or a combination of the following disciplinary sanctions. The sanctions that may be imposed will include but are not 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 Student Code of 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 Student Services and Development 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 that person 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 of 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 a definite period of time or
- 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 may include being withdrawn from courses, denial of participation in any College-sponsored activities, and/or employment with the College during the term of suspension. Upon completion of the terms of the Disciplinary Suspension, the student must meet with the Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs to begin the process of being readmitted to the College.
- Expulsion: Where a student has committed very serious violations of the Elgin Community College Student Code of Conduct and/or has a record of multiple violations and/or disciplinary actions, the student may be permanently dismissed from Elgin Community College.
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 the 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 Director of Student Success and Judicial Affairs, who writes up and submits the narrative to the Dean of Student Services and Development. The Dean of Student Services and Development is not limited to sanctions recommended by members of the disciplinary body. Following the hearing, the Dean of Student Services and Development 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 or student club/organization has the right to appeal the decision according to the Administrative Procedure 4.408 Appeal.
5. Record of Complaint
After the process is concluded, all records will be filed in the Dean of Student Services and Development office for a period of five (5) years.
Complaint forms may be obtained from the Dean of Student Services and Development Office, room B105.13, and the Student Complaint Form. The Dean will forward the complaint form to the appropriate party in the next step of the process if needed.