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4.5 Student complaints

The institution has adequate procedures for addressing written student complaints and is responsible for demonstrating that it follows those procedures when resolving student complaints. (See Commission policy “Complaint Procedures for the Commission or its Accredited Institutions.”) (Student complaints)

Judgment of Compliance

Sam Houston State University has policies to respond to student’s complaints in a prompt and equitable manner.

The above policies are disseminated to students through a variety of venues. Academic policies can be accessed in the Academic Policy Manual, available online via the Academic Affairs webpage [1]. The Office of Student Life publishes and disseminates the Student Guidelines [2]. Within these guidelines, all of the policies concerning academic and campus life can be found. These guidelines can be found both online and in hard print. Both the undergraduate and graduate catalogues also contain reference to these policies. Policies concerning student employment are disseminated by the Department of Human Resources and are available through their website [3].

In terms of academic disputes and/or grievances, students are encouraged to follow the chain of command, starting with the class instructor, and then their departmental or school chair, their respective college review panel, their academic dean, the graduate dean (for graduate students) and finally the Office of the Provost [4]. Academic complaints include disputes over academic dishonesty, grades, unauthorized class absences or tardiness, suspension for academic deficiency, an instructor’s alleged unprofessional conduct, graduate comprehensive and oral exams, and theses and dissertations.

If the student complaint deals with the campus atmosphere or environment, they may address their complaint(s) with the Office of Student Services. This includes disputes about sexual assault [5], sexual harassment [6], racial harassment [7], or failure to accommodate students with disabilities [8]. The Office of Student Life procedure for dealing is also addressed in the Student Guidelines. The Office of Student life publishes procedures for seeking formal mediation [9], right to challenge impartiality [10] or appeal a disciplinary decision [11]. Finally, student employees are covered by the University’s Human Resource policies regarding workplace violence [12], sexual harassment [13], and dispute resolution [14].

The Texas State University System, of which Sam Houston State is a member, recently initiated an Ethics and Compliance Line allowing students and/or staff to make an anonymous complaint to the System Office. “The System has established a reporting hotline through a private contractor, EthicsPoint, to provide a confidential avenue for reporting concerns about potential waste, fraud, and abuse of resources, the lack of compliance with laws and regulations, or violations of the System’s Code of Ethics [15].”

The State of Texas does not provide formula funding for credit hours in excess of 45 credit hours over the minimum number of hours required for a degree, nor do they fund courses three or more times (3-pete). Without formula funding, SHSU charges nonresident tuition rates to students falling into this category. Students may appeal for a waiver of these charges through the Office of the Provost. Such appeals are reviewed by the Council of Associate Deans. As seen in the table below, to date, 55% of the student appeals have been fully or partially granted.

45-hour 3-pete All requests
full partial denied full partial denied full partial denied
7 2 8 2 0 1 9 2 9
41.2% 11.8% 47.1% 66.7% 0% 33.3% 45% 10% 45%

Examples of appeal documentation are provided by the Dean of Graduate Studies [16], Dean of Students [17], Financial Aid [18], and Undergraduate Admissions [19] as evidence that the policies are followed.

Supporting Documentation
Documentation Reference
Document Title
[1] Academic Affairs, Policies and Procedures
[2] Student Guidelines
[3] Human Resource Policy Webpage
[4] Academic Policy Statement 900823 - Academic Grievance Procedures for Students
[5] Student Guidelines - Sexual Assault
[6] Student Guidelines - Sexual Harassment
[7] Student Guidelines - Racial Harassment
[8] Student Guidelines - Students with Disabilities
[9] Student Guidelines - Formal Mediation
[10] Student Guidelines - Challenge Impartiality
[11] Student Guidelines - Appeal
[12] Human Resource Policy RM2 - Workplace Violence
[13] Human Resource Policy ER7 - Sexual Harassment
[14] Human Resource Policy ER1 - Dispute Resolution
[15] The Texas State University System - Ethics and Compliance Line
[16] Appeal Documentation, Graduate Studies
[17] Appeal Documentation, Dean of Students
[18] Appeal Documentation, Financial Aid
[19] Appeal Documentation, Undergraduate Admissions

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Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341
(936) 294-1111