Conflict Resolution Options

The AccessAbility Services staff, the Section 504 Coordinator/Dean of Students, and the Ombudsperson are available to help students with disabilities in navigating campus conflicts. We strive to engage in a respectful conflict resolution process that is designed to empower students and strengthen relationships. Our goal in all conflict resolution is to provide an outcome in which all parties are better equipped to support, understand, and communicate with one another.

As a student at Mount Holyoke College, you have a range of options and channels when it comes to resolving conflict. All members of the community are encouraged to attempt conflict resolution in an informal way when possible. Often, the most effective avenue for addressing concerns is direct conversation with the involved parties; reasoned discussion of the issue will often bring about a resolution and new understanding. AccessAbility Services and the Section 504 Coordinator/Dean of Students are available for confidential counseling for students interested in the informal process of resolving conflict. If the informal process does not work, a student may file a formal grievance with the Section 504 Coordinator.

Accommodation or Access Difficulty

Students who experience difficulty with accessing an approved accommodation or any service or program of the college should immediately notify AccessAbility Services. We will make every effort to correct the situation in a timely manner.

Accommodation Denial

If a student is not satisfied with an accommodation decision made by an AccessAbility Services counselor, she is encouraged to speak with the Director of AccessAbility Services or with the Section 504 Coordinator. Accommodation decisions may be reversed or other appropriate strategies may be considered.

Mediation

Mediation is the process whereby a neutral third party seeks to bring the parties together to resolve a dispute in a way that is mutually acceptable. The ombudsperson provides neutral mediation services. The ombudsperson shall consult with the grievant and shall meet with the individuals separately and/or together to attempt to reach a resolution that is agreeable to all parties to the dispute. No written records, other than the final resolution, shall be retained by the ombudsperson. Original documents shall be returned to their source or to another site as agreed in the resolution. All other notes shall be destroyed. If the dispute is not resolved through mediation, the ombudsperson shall immediately inform all affected parties and discuss with the grievant other alternatives. The mediation process, if unsuccessful, will not prejudice the rights of either party to the dispute. Therefore, should mediation be unsuccessful, neither the reasons for the failure of mediation nor any material or statements made during the process may be utilized in any subsequent proceedings or forums (Student Handbook).

Roommate Conflict

Students are assigned housing for the academic year. If a student would like to change rooms, there are two ways to do so: Room Swapping and Room Change Request. Again, the college's housing process is guided by the principle of communication.  All students are asked to communicate with their roommate and attempt to reasonably resolve the conflict before a move is considered.  The Community Advisor or Senior Community Advisor is available to help mediate. Usually roommate disputes can be resolved by having a student staff member mediate a conversation between roommate pairs or triples. If this does not resolve the situation, the student should make an appointment to talk with the Area Coordinator or Assistant Director of Residential Life to talk about other options (Residential Life, Housing Process).

Questioning a Grade

By faculty legislation a grade that has been submitted to the registrar can be changed only at the request of the instructor, and then only with the approval of the Academic Administrative Board. The Board has granted such permission only in cases in which there was a computational error, and not in cases that involve re-evaluation of student work. A student questioning a grade she has received should therefore consult with the instructor. If it turns out that there was a computational error, the instructor could petition the Academic Administrative Board. If after talking with the instructor the student remains concerned about the way in which a grade was determined, she should speak with the department chair. If her concern persists she can speak with the dean of the College, who may be able to clarify the issue or, if circumstances warrant, refer it to the dean of the faculty (Student Handbook).

Students who are questioning a grade are encouraged to contact AccessAbility Services. Types of assistance available may include academic or self-advocacy coaching, advisement, and AccessAbility Services presence at meetings or hearings.

Formal Procedures

When a student has been unable to resolve a conflict through an informal process, mediation, or the aforementioned channels, she is encouraged to file a formal request with the Section 504 Coordinator, Rene Davis. The Section 504 Coordinator will walk you through the campus grievance procedures.

Filing an Accommodation Appeal

An appeal may be filed by any student who believes that an appropriate accommodation has been denied to her. Please note, Mount Holyoke College has the right to deny a request for accommodations and services if an individual fails to provide the required documentation, the provided documentation does not support the requested accommodation, the student fails to make the request in a reasonable time period, the requested accommodation poses a health or safety risk, or the requested accommodation  imposes an undue burden or fundamental alteration to a program, service, or activity.  Students should contact the Section 504 Coordinator to file a complaint based on the denial of a requested accommodation.

Filing a Disability Discrimination Complaint

A complaint may be filled by any student who believes that a practice at Mount Holyoke College has or will result in discrimination against her based on her disability. The Section 504 Coordinator should be contacted for confidential counseling regarding a particular matter, will provide confidential counseling as requested and necessary during the complaint process, and ensure prompt resolution of complaints filed. We encourage students to file complaints as soon as possible.