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SMITH COLLEGE GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

I. Pre-Complaint Resolution Strategies

In a diverse community, disagreements and conflicts of various degrees of seriousness are inevitable. Many issues are best resolved informally, by direct communication between the individuals involved, or with the help of mediation by a third party. However, such a strategy may be inappropriate when the conduct is severe or when the person responsible for the alleged behavior holds a position of authority. Under these circumstances the complainant is encouraged to use the formal complaint procedure. The following members of the college community are available to discuss complaints or concerns under this policy: all supervisors or department heads, the executive director of human resources, the human resources manager of employee relations and recruitment, and the dean of the school for social work.

These persons are prepared to assist with the assessment of a concern and to explain the options and resources available for resolving concerns. Questions are encouraged; merely discussing an incident in this way does not commit an individual to making a complaint. After discussion with one or more of these persons, the complainant may: pursue the matter on her or his own; ask the director of human resources to discuss the matter with the person who engaged in the conduct; ask one of the specialists listed below to mediate; or proceed to the formal complaint process described below. The director of human resources will provide advice to all parties on the substantive issues involved and the means for addressing the complaint and its possible resolution. Should one of these persons undertake to mediate, she or he will so inform the director of human resources.

The matter will be considered resolved when there is an agreed resolution acceptable to all parties. A written record of the resolution and any other relevant documents will be maintained by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity and will not become part of a personnel file. Failure to respond to a complaint, or refusal to participate in informal mediation, shall not be introduced as a consideration during any formal proceedings that might arise.

Informal resolution may not be appropriate when the behavior complained of is so egregious as to constitute a violation of policy that could result in disciplinary action. After learning about a situation from the complainant, any of the above listed persons may determine that an investigation into the complaint is merited even if the complainant does not file a formal complaint.

 

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