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13.3 Formal Grievance Procedures

While informal resolution is available for students to address many conflicts and complaints, the formal resolution process is applicable to instances where there is an allegation of Abuse of Authority and where attempts at informal resolution have been ineffective. Timelines are specified for all stages in the formal grievance process. If necessary, specific deadlines may be extended with notice to the student and respondent[s].

Role of Support Person

Both the student and respondent(s) may bring a support person of their choice to any meeting conducted as part of the formal grievance process. However, they must notify the individual or individuals with whom they are meeting of the identity of their support person in advance. If the support person is a lawyer, a representative of the University’s Office of Legal Counsel may also attend the meeting. The support person does not function as an advocate or participate directly in any way during the meeting. Both the student and respondent(s) are expected to speak for themselves and submit their own written statements.

Submitting a Formal Grievance 

Students wishing to file a formal grievance are required to submit a complaint using this online form

Initial Review

The form and any provided written documentation will be reviewed by either the Dean of Students of the Law School or by the Deputy Dean to determine if:

  • The case is appropriate for formal resolution pursuant to the grievance policy (i.e., it alleges an Abuse of Authority as defined above and is not covered by another policy); and
  • The case cannot be resolved by informal means. 

The Dean of Students or the Deputy Dean of the Law School will receive and review the complaint to determine if it meets the above stated criteria for formal resolution. As part of this initial review, the Dean of Students or Deputy Dean may request a meeting with the student to discuss the complaint. At this meeting there will be discussion of any supportive resources that the student may find helpful. 

The student will receive written notification of whether the case meets the criteria for formal resolution within 30 calendar days of submitting the formal grievance complaint. 

If the Dean of Students or Deputy Dean decides the complaint is appropriate for resolution, the respondent(s) will be provided with written notice and a copy of the complaint within seven calendar days of the notice to the student.

Law School Grievance Committee

The Dean of the Law School will convene a Grievance Committee to consider the case. The Committee is charged with reviewing all information about the case and making a recommendation to the Dean.

The Committee will generally be composed of three faculty members and the Dean of Students or Deputy Dean. 

All members of the Committee are expected to maintain independent judgment and open-mindedness about the alleged grievance, free from material bias and conflicts of interest, or they should recuse themselves.

The student and respondent(s) will be notified of the composition of the Committee as soon as practicable before the Committee begins their review. Either party may request a substitution if the participation of any individual on the Committee poses a conflict of interest. Such requests must be made to the Dean of Students or Deputy Dean within two business days of receiving notice of the composition of the Committee. Requests must identify with specificity the alleged nature of the conflict of interest. Using reasoned judgment, the Dean will decide whether the alleged conflict is genuine and material and, if so, whether it compels the Committee member’s replacement.

Law School Grievance Committee Process 

The Committee will designate a member or members to:

  • Interview, as necessary, individuals who may have relevant knowledge;
  • Collect materials, as necessary, including relevant documents.

The complainant and respondent(s) will be given the opportunity to provide relevant documentation, provide names of relevant individuals, and meet with the committee or a designated representative of the committee.

The Committee will apply a preponderance of evidence standard in making its recommendation to the Dean. Namely, the Committee will decide whether, in consideration of all the information before it, it is more likely than not that an Abuse of Authority occurred.

Potential Outcomes 

Grievance processes and outcomes are intended to create a more respectful and inclusive university environment in which every student has the opportunity to maximize their potential, to provide remedies for students in need of support, and to facilitate productive conversations about challenging issues. In considering appropriate resolutions to grievance cases, the Law School will be guided by the principle that outcomes should focus on addressing harm to the student and preventing its recurrence.

The range of possible outcomes will vary according to the role of the individual found responsible for violating the policy and the severity of the violation. If any individual is found to have Abused their Authority as defined in this policy, at minimum the Dean of the Law School and/or other supervisor will meet with the respondent to discuss the finding and expectations regarding future conduct, and a notation regarding the finding and expectations may be made in the personnel record. Other possible outcomes include, but are not limited to, required trainings, amendments to teaching and advising assignments, removal from leadership positions or committee assignments, ineligibility for annual pay increases, and referral to applicable processes if further action is recommended. Outcomes will be based on the specific nature of the conduct, the particulars of the situation, and a pattern of violations if such exists. 

Notification of Outcome

The student and the respondent(s) shall be notified formally, in writing, of the decision no more than 90 calendar days after the case was initially submitted. 

Notifications will also provide both parties with information about how to request a review of the outcome by the Office of the Provost under the Graduate Student Grievance Review Process.