The College offers an informal procedure, in addition to the formal procedure, as an alternative method of resolving a complaint. The informal procedure can be used to resolve a wide range of grievances in a cooperative and timely manner. The informal procedure is not required, nor is it appropriate for all matters of grievance (e.g. sexual assault). Using or starting the use of the informal procedure does not restrict a grievant from use of the formal procedure at any time.
Useful supports when considering the informal procedure include
- Direct supervisor or advisor
- Director or Associate Director of Human Resources
- Dean or Assistant Dean of Students (for students)
- Appropriate Compliance Coordinator (see On Campus Resources for a listing of the College's compliance coordinators )
Consultations with any of the supports above are intended to aid an individual in determining whether or not to try to resolve the situation on his or her own; to help the individual understand the College’s formal and informal grievance procedures; and to provide a safe and private setting in which to discuss the incident(s) that gave rise to the concerns.
The informal procedure may include one or a combination of the following:
- Notice to the respondent (if any) of the behavior and the impact of their behavior on the grievant
- Mediation (see below) agreed upon by grievant and respondent (if any) and conducted by the ombudsperson
- Impartial inquiry by an appropriate college administrator or the ombudsperson resulting in recommendations for resolving the problem
- Referral of the grievance to an appropriate administrative officer for assistance in reaching a resolution.
In an effort to resolve a complaint in the informal procedure, the supervisor or advisor may also consult with or refer the grievant to the ombudsperson.
The informal procedure is initiated once the grievant notifies an individual named above and elects to pursue an informal resolution. Notice should include the grievant’s name, address, telephone number and email address; a full description of the problem; name of the respondent (s) if any; a description of what efforts have been made to resolve the issue (if any); and a statement of the remedy requested.
The ombudsperson provides neutral mediation services for the College. The ombudsperson shall consult with the grievant and respondent (if any) 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.
If the dispute is not resolved through mediation, the ombudsperson shall immediately inform all involved parties and discuss with the grievant other alternatives. The mediation process, if unsuccessful, will not prejudice the rights of either party to the dispute.
A grievant who chooses to file a grievance should do as soon as possible. Delays in reporting will affect the College’s ability to investigate the matter. The College will work with the grievant and respondent (if any) to resolve a complaint using the informal procedures within 45 calendar days from the date in which the College received notice.
Should the informal procedure fail to resolve the matter, the grievant may move to the formal process. A grievant may move from the informal procedure to a formal procedure at any time during the informal process. A grievant wishing to proceed from informal procedure to formal procedure should file a formal grievance as soon as possible. Delays in reporting will affect the College’s ability to investigate the matter.
Other items of note with respect to the informal procedure
- If mediation is the desired method of resolution, both parties must agree to engage in mediation.
- Mediation will not be used for matters that involve violence, intimidation, or coercion (including sexual misconduct, sexual assault, or sexual harassment).
- An informal complaint may move to the formal process at the discretion of the College in instances where the complaint or investigation identifies behavior that is not appropriate for review in the informal process. Examples of these behaviors include sexual assault and harassment, violence, threats to the College community, and similar actions with serious consequences. Investigations of this nature may proceed independently by the College without identifying the grievant to the extent possible if the grievant has not agreed to participate in the investigation.
- Documentation of complaints resolved by the informal process will be shared with the appropriate compliance officer (as noted in the Resources section) as required to comply with applicable federal and state monitoring and reporting guidelines.