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The Student Relations Liaison position is intended as an additional support for students who are seeking information and mediation regarding the grievance processes related to policies described in the Student Handbook. One of the key responsibilities of the Liaison is to create communication between students and the faculty, staff, and administration regarding creation of fair and positive solutions that uphold Pacifica’s standards and values as well as to address student’s questions and concerns. The Student Relations Liaison can be reached at a confidential phone line (805) 220-8707 or at studentliaison@pacifica.edu.

 

Procedure for Resolving Academic and Administrative Complaints

Students are encouraged to first discuss complaints with the person(s) who is (are) directly involved in the complaint in an effort to come to a satisfactory, informal resolution.

If these informal direct discussions are not successful, the student may pursue further informal avenues as defined within each academic program. The Program Chair, Student Relations Liaison, or the Director of the appropriate administrative department may be involved in discussing possible resolutions or can be of assistance in directing a student to the appropriate person. If the matter relates to the student’s financial account, it may be referred to the Student Accounts Committee.

Before filing a formal grievance, Pacifica encourages students to use established program procedures for addressing and resolving complaints whenever possible. In some cases, students or faculty may be directed to the Education Council for consideration of exceptions to academic policies. If it is determined that the student complaint is appropriate for consideration by the Education Council, the Education Council will review the matter in accordance with its procedures and its decision will be final, subject to review by the Provost as described in Education Council procedures. When Education Council review is not appropriate, or where other specific and separate grievance procedures are not applicable, students may file a formal grievance according to the procedures described below. When an Education Council review is conducted, there will not be a duplicative grievance procedure.

Procedure for Addressing Grievances

The grievance policy and procedures provide students with a method for addressing any concerns that may arise regarding possible violations to Pacifica’s academic or administrative policies that pertain to students, or an arbitrary or discriminatory application of, or failure to act in accordance with, the academic or administrative policies of Pacifica Graduate Institute pertaining to students. The procedure provides a thorough review of the student’s complaint and affords due process rights to dispute participants with the intent of arriving at a mutual agreement. The grievance procedures are only for non-Education Council matters.

Definitions

Complaint

A student complaint is an allegation by a student that there has been an arbitrary or discriminatory application of, or failure to act in accordance with, the academic or administrative policies of Pacifica Graduate Institute pertaining to students.

A student complaint may involve a faculty or staff member(s) and/or the Program Chair or it may be related to an academic or administrative process.

Grievance

A grievance is made when complaints have not been resolved and the student alleges that there has been an arbitrary or discriminatory application of, or failure to act in accordance with, the academic or administrative policies of Pacifica Graduate Institute. A formal written grievance is made by a student to a designated academic (Program Chair) or administrative officer (Director) in which specific remedies may be requested.

Formal Procedure for Resolving Grievances

A grievance is initiated by completing and filing a Grievance Form available on Pacifica’s website or by writing a letter that includes the following description. This form requires a detailed description of the grievance, the parties involved, the attempts to resolve the grievance informally, and the remedies sought.

Most frequently, the grievance is addressed to the Program Chair or, if it involves non-academic matters, to the administrative director of that function, e.g., Financial Aid, Student Accounts Office, etc. If the Program Chair or an administrative director is a party to the grievance, the formal written grievance must be addressed to the Provost, who will assign the matter for review. If the Provost is a party to a grievance, the formal written grievance should be directed to the President, who will assign the matter for review.

The person receiving the formal written grievance will review it and within 30 days will gather information from the grievance parties, keeping a record and/or summary of this information. They will recommend a solution to the grievance based on mutual agreement. If a mutual agreement cannot be reached, a resolution will be determined and the grievant will be notified of the resolution in writing. Copies of all records will be sent to and maintained by the Academic Affairs Office or, for administrative department grievances, by the Human Resources office.

Appeal Process

For both academic and administrative grievances, if the parties accept the resolution, the grievance is considered settled. If the resolution is not accepted, then the grievant(s) may appeal the resolution in writing within 15 days of the date the resolution is mailed to the grievant(s). If the appeal is not submitted within the prescribed time limit, the resolution is final.

If the grievant(s) elects to appeal, appeals are submitted to the Provost, along with the written record from the previous steps. If the Provost is the object of the grievance, the grievance will be referred to the President.

Within 30 days of appeal to the Provost, the Provost may decide the matter or may convene a Special Hearing Committee to further investigate the grievance. The Committee may include any of the following members, depending upon the circumstances: Core Faculty members, any Administrative Director, or others. The Committee will make its recommendations to the Provost within 45 days after being convened.

The Provost will accept, reject, or revise the Committee’s decision and communicate it to the grievant(s). This decision will be based on the record and the Provost will not reopen the matter for additional evidence or argument. The action of the institutional management will be final.