University of Washington School of Public Health

Student Concern Policy

Issued: 7/12/2018

Replaces all previously issued policies and procedures, effective: 7/30/2018

Purpose

The School seeks to partner with our students to resolve conflicts and address concerns that arise during the student's educational program. Information about the concerns that arise will be used to understand the impact our institution has on students and to work towards equitable practices and an inclusive environment.

Policy

Students are invited to pursue resolution of concerns that arise as a result of their enrollment in the School of Public Health through informal or formal mechanisms. Faculty, staff and administrators will act in good faith to listen, understand, and work in partnership with students to resolve issues that impact students individually, and to consider the totality of reported concerns to improve the school climate and educational outcomes for all students.

We look to all members of our community to engage concerns with respect for diverse perspectives, assuming positive intent, promoting continual learning and development, and with an appreciation that open communication may allow for misunderstandings to be clarified and resolved. We acknowledge that both individual and structural factors play a role in the origins of students' concerns and in differentiating the processes and pathways for their resolution. As a community, we aim to recognize that these differences may create tension with our policy as written and require adjustment and exception periodically.

Situations that present immediate concern for health and safety should be treated as emergencies and addressed as an emergency situation would be. Reporting and concern mechanisms beyond the School are listed at the end of this policy for students who prefer not to seek address through SPH processes.

Procedure:

INFORMAL PROCESS:

Students are encouraged to attempt to address concerns as they arise informally. While not exhaustive, likely avenues of redress include:

  • To the instructor and or TA, classroom instruction and climate issues
  • To the instructor and/or program director, concerns about the curriculum
  • In direct interaction with the peer, concerns arising with a peer
  • With the Faculty Advisor or their supervisor, issues with the advisor: advisee or supervisor: staff relationship
  • In cases where multiple relationships may simultaneously exist, please reach out to your student services advisor to help consider the best redress pathway.

Student are encouraged to seek assistance and enlist the support of their student services advisor as an advocate, but still attempt the resolution directly with the individual they have a concern or conflict with. The student service advisor can act as a source of information and assistance, discussion options for resolving concerns and help students determine alternative reporting options they can pursue. In cases where it is not clear, the student may also contact Student and Academic Services or the Chief Diversity Officer for guidance on resolving conflicts in the school.

In cases where direct communication does not lead to the hoped for resolution, student can pursue the formal process detailed below.

FORMAL PROCESS:

Stage 1.

Each department at the School will identify and publish the appropriate contact for formal concerns. This information will be available from student service advisors, in the student section of the SPH website, from the Student and Academic Services office and from the Chief Diversity Officer. The process will follow existing departmental pathways of communication and resources to support resolution of concerns in a timely manner. The department chair serves as the final arbiter of efforts made in the department to resolve the student concern. The department chair will confirm that informal reconciliation was attempted (or that there was a compelling reason to bypass that step.) Timely response from a department administrator is expected. In cases where a concern takes more than 10 days to resolve, a student can reasonably expect notice on the delay and an expected time for a final response. The response of the department chair will be conveyed to the student as well as any parties who are the subject of the concern. The department chair will report the concern and its resolution to the office of Student and Academic Services for recordkeeping purposes.

Stage 2.

Students who seek further redress can take their concern to the Office of the Dean for a hearing. A hearing committee will be convened to review all collected information about the concern and conduct interviews if needed, to develop a resolution recommendation for the Dean of the School. Timely response from the Office of the Dean is expected. In cases where a concern takes more than 20 days to resolve, a student can reasonably expect notice on the delay and expected time for a final response. The Dean's office response will be conveyed to the student, any parties who are the subject of the concern, and the Chair of the department where the concern originated in a timely manner. The Office of Student and Academic Services will keep a record of determinations made through this process.

Hearing Committee composition:

Hearing committee members will be appointed each Fall Quarter to serve for the academic year.

  • Two students, identified by DACs, representing the same program level as the student that initiated the concern. The students should ideally be from a different department than the department in which the concern originated.
  • Two faculty members, identified by the Dean's office, from a department other than the one in which the concern originated.
  • Two departmental staff members. This staff member should be from a different department than the department in which the concern originated.
  • The hearing will be convened by a member of the office of the Dean.

Stage 3.

On a quarterly basis, aggregate information about all formal concerns will be shared with Deans Advisory Council for Students for distribution as well as with Department Chairs.

Alternate Reporting of Student Concerns

Students can anonymously report issues that have caused concern to dcinfo@uw.edu . This email account is managed by Student and Academic Services. Anonymous concerns will be brought to the attention of the most likely resolution body within the school and will be included in aggregate reports of concerns received.

Beyond the School of Public Health

Resolution mechanisms beyond the School are also available. They include:

Supporting documents

Authority to set this policy is established by UW Presidential Order No 58, as well as Council for Education on Public Health Accreditation Criteria H3 (2016). School policies are in accord with existing University complaint resolution options afforded, as noted above.

Key Contacts

Policy Implementation, Questions or Amendment -
Juanita Ricks, jmricks@uw.edu 206.616.3198

Department/program contacts for Formal Concerns (pdf)

Student Concern Policy (pdf)