University of Southern California

SCampus Student Guidebook

University Governance

F.4 Student Grievance Procedures

F.4 Student Grievance Procedures

I. Definitions

A grievance arises when a student believes, based on established administrative policies and procedures, that he or she has been treated in an arbitrary or capricious manner by a university department or a representative of the university.

II. Grievances Covered by This Policy

A grievance against a university official arises when a student believes he or she has been subjected to inappropriate behavior by a department or university representative (faculty or staff) acting within their role and duty.

A grievance of personal misconduct by a faculty member or other university employee arises when a student believes he or she is the subject of inappropriate behavior outside of the employee’s role and duties within the university.

III. Grievances Not Covered by This Policy Include:

  • Grade disputes, academic evaluation disputes and other matters related to a faculty member’s assigned duties. The grievance process for these disputes is found in the Academic Policies section of SCampus (see here).
  • Issues of sexual harassment or discrimination. These issues should be referred to Jody Shipper, the Title IX coordinator, Office of Equity and Diversity (Credit Union Building 2nd Floor, University Park Campus, (213) 740-5086, oed@usc.edu). SCampus outlines the policy on Sexual Misconduct in Section E.2.

IV. Informal Grievance Resolution

Prior to bringing a grievance forward against a university office or representative acting within their role or duty, students are encouraged to attempt a good-faith resolution of the grievance. This attempt may be made with the party directly involved with the disputed matter, or with the head of the department or unit in which the grievance arises. Please note that there are cases when it is appropriate to go directly to the formal grievance resolution process.

Attempts at information resolution should be initiated within 30 days of the incident in dispute.

V. Formal Grievance Resolution

Should a situation arise in which a student is unable to resolve his or her grievance informally, the university’s formal grievance process may be employed. This process, outlined below, should also be initiated within 30 days of the failed informal resolution if applicable.

Step I

A formal grievance is presented in writing to the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs (Student Union 201). This written grievance must include the following:

  • Name, address and phone number of the person making the grievance;
  • Identification of the office or individual against whom the grievance is brought;
  • A description of the specific university action or individual behavior resulting in this grievance;
  • The date or period of time in which the behavior occurred and the location of the incident; and
  • A listing of all individuals who witnessed any part of the incident in dispute.

Step II

Upon receipt of the formal grievance, a designee is appointed by the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs to investigate the dispute.

the grievance involves a university office or representative acting within their role or duty, the investigator determines the involvement of pertinent supervisors, department chairs and deans in the investigation. Depending upon the grievance, pertinent data (interviews, etc.) will be gathered by the investigator or the university office involved in the grievance. This data is then presented to the department for resolution. If the complainant and the respondent do not agree through informal resolution, a formal hearing becomes necessary. In a formal hearing, the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs appoints a panel or administrator to make a recommendation to the cognizant administrator. Copies of the detailed protocol may be obtained from the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs (Student Union 201).

If the grievance is based on personal misconduct by a faculty member or other university employee, the investigator gathers pertinent information and presents it to either the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs (faculty complaint) or the Office of the Senior Vice President for Administration (staff complaint). The Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs assists the appropriate office with resolution and the resolution process.

Revised November 2011.


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