Formal Procedure

Filing a Complaint
Review of the Complaint and Investigation
Notice of Outcome
Right of Appeal
Standards of Proof
Hearing Officer

Step 1: Filing a Complaint
A grievant who chooses to file a grievance should do so as soon as possible.  Delays in reporting will affect the College’s ability to investigate the matter.  Complaints under the formal procedure should be submitted to the following:

  • For employees and employee applicants: the director of human resources. 
  • For students and prospective students: the dean of students. 
  • For guest and visitors of the College:  the appropriate compliance coordinator listed in the Resources section.

Any grievant may also file a grievance directly with the compliance coordinator named in the Resources section.

When filing a grievance, the grievant should present clearly and concisely the grievant’s contact information; a full description of the problem;  name of respondent (if any) a description of what efforts have been made to resolve the issue (if any); and a statement of the remedy requested.

Step 2: Review of the Complaint and Investigation
The Director of Human Resources (in matters related to Faculty and Staff) or Dean of Students (in matters related to students) will notify the respondent (if any) that a grievance has been filed and shall provide a description of the grievance.  The hearing officer and investigator will be identified to the grievant and to the respondent (if any).

The investigation will include discussions with the grievant, the respondent (if any), and any other individuals believed to have knowledge pertinent to the grievance. The investigator will obtain information from those witnesses or other individuals identified by the grievant and respondent (if any).  The investigator will also collect and review any hard copy information including photos, written communication, and electronic information.

The investigator will submit a report of findings to the named hearing officer.  After the receipt of the investigator report, the hearing officer will move forward to determine an outcome for the complaint. If additional evidence or interviews are required, the hearing officer will inform the grievant and respondent (if any) with an anticipated timeline to come to a determination. 

The College will work efficiently and appropriately to resolve any notice of grievances.  The College will make every effort to resolve a complaint within 60 calendar days from receipt of a complaint.  The College reserves the right to extend any of the above time-periods when circumstances so warrant in the sole judgment of the College.  The College considers six months as a reasonable outside limit for bringing a grievance. The College may allow a grievance to be filed beyond the six-month limit.

Step 3: Notice of Outcome:
The hearing officer will meet with the grievant and respondent (if any) separately to discuss the determination of the case. A written decision will be sent to the grievant and respondent (if any) after the completion of the two meetings to discuss the determination.

  • The grievant will receive a written letter with the outcome. The grievant will not receive information on specific sanctions imposed as an outcome unless the sanction directly relates to the grievant, such as restitution, order of no contact, removal from the College, or as required by law.  
  • The respondent (if any) will receive a written letter with the determination and sanction(s) of the case.

Should the hearing officer conclude there is a reasonable basis for believing that the grievance has been substantiated, sanctioning will be taken during the respondent’s (if any) determination meeting. 

Sanctions for faculty, staff and students will vary based on their specific rights and privileges. 

Outcomes may include one or more of the following:

  1. A plan to discuss and set goals designed to stop or reduce the offending behavior, including possible training or other educational based sanction
  2. Relocation of event to an accessible location or providing a reasonable accommodation to ensure access.
  3. No contact order
  4. Changes in course or  residence hall assignment
  5. A written warning or directive placed in the respondent (if any)'s personnel  or student discipline file, including remedial action
  6. Letter of apology
  7. Restitution
  8. Removal of privileges
  9. Suspension with or without pay
  10. Mandated short term leave from the College
  11. Termination of employment or expulsion from the College
  12. Other outcomes as deemed appropriate by the hearing officer.

Since Mount Holyoke College views acts of harassment and discrimination as intolerable, any one of the actions stated above, including removal from the College, may be taken immediately if the infraction warrants such action.

Right of Appeal
Both the grievant and respondent (if any) have the right to file an appeal with the President of the College.  Individuals may file appeals on the findings and/or sanctions. Such an appeal must be received in the Office of the President within ten (10) calendar days after the date of the written notice of outcome. Appeals on findings are limited to claims of procedural errors only. The grievant and respondent will be notified that an appeal has been submitted.

The President’s decision will normally be rendered and notice of the decision will be within twenty (20) calendar days of the receipt of appeal.  Both the grievant and the respondent will be notified of the President’s decision.  The President’s decision will be final and binding within the College. In the absence or unavailability of the President, a Senior Administrative Officer/ Vice President may review and decide the appeal. 

Standards of Proof
The hearing officer will use the standard of preponderance of the evidence to make a determination that a violation of policy has occurred.

Hearing Officers
The Hearing Officer for a formal complaint is a College appointed official or body assigned to review the complaint, examine the facts presented by the parties involved (including the investigation report), determine responsibility, and if necessary impose disciplinary sanctions. 

The designation of the hearing officer is based upon the classification type (i.e., student, staff, faculty, or guest) of the grievant and respondent (if any). 

  • Student to student cases are generally heard by the Honor Code Council (or designee from the Dean of Students Office). 
  • Faculty matters are heard by the Dean of Faculty (or designee).
  • Staff matters are heard by the supervisor (unless the complaint involves the supervisor) or designee as determined by the Director of Human Resources.