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Institution Complaint Process

Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) strives to provide remarkable service to its students, in an environment conducive to learning and academic excellence. MSMU is committed to ensuring that all student complaints are resolved using a clear, fair and reliable process. The University treats complaints seriously and ensures all processes are clear, prompt, confidential and fair to all parties. 

It is important to note that there is a difference between a complaint and an appeal. 

  • A complaint usually involves a concern, problem or issue alleging improper, unfair, or arbitrary treatment or it may involve issues of institutional or program quality.
  • An appeal is the response one might take regarding a disciplinary measure which is deemed unfair or excessive; or dissatisfaction with a grade; or progression, probation, or dismissal from a program. Appeals are made through established university procedures.

Based on the principle of solidarity found in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, students are strongly encouraged to first attempt to address all concerns with the party involved, before going to anyone else.  If the concern is not resolved at that point, then they should take it to the next level.  For example, the next level up from a faculty member is the program director/department chair.  If the issue is still not resolved, then they should take it to the next level after that, and so on.  For example, if a student has an issue with one of their instructors, they should follow the process below:

image with flow chart of complaint policy

When registering concerns or complaints, MSMU students must follow the appropriate procedures. If a student does not address their concern in the proper order, they will be sent back to start at the beginning.  If a student has any question about the applicable procedure to follow for a particular complaint, the student should contact the appropriate Academic Dean:  Lacey Smith lasmith@msmu.edu (Chalon), Dr. Pam Gist pgist@msmu.edu (Doheny), Dr. Leah Fitzgerald lfitzgerald@msmu.edu (Nursing), or Suzanne Williams swilliams@msmu.edu (WEC/Online); or, the appropriate Dean of Student Life: Laura Crow lcrow@msmu.edu (Chalon) or Jessica Cuevas jcuevas@msmu.edu (Doheny/Sunset Gower).

Existing University Complaint Policies and Procedures

If a student has a complaint concerning any of the following matters, the student should follow the procedures outlined in each policy:

A.     Athenian Promise – for complaints regarding student civility. If you feel a student has violated the Athenian Promise, please contact the appropriate Dean of Student Life.

B.     Sexual Misconduct / Compliance with Title IX – for complaints regarding sexual misconduct, harassment or discrimination. Current students, please see the Sexual Conduct Title IX MyMSMU page for more information or contact the Title IX Coordinator or a Title IX Deputy. Others, please see the Title IX Webpage for more information or contact a member of the Mount Community Assault Response & Education Support Team.

C.     Policy for Zero Tolerance for Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation – for complaints regarding non-sexual harassment or discrimination, see the Zero Tolerance Policy.  Students, please contact a Dean of Student Life; staff, please contact Human Resources; faculty, please contact the Provost’s Office. 

D.     Student Conduct and Community Standards Policy – for more information regarding the disciplinary process for student conduct outside of the classroom, please see the Student Handbook, Student Conduct and Community Standards Policy section. Please contact the appropriate Dean of Student Life if you have any questions.

E.     Disability Accommodations {see Student Handbook, Disability Support Services section} – Students, who believe they have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability, or have been denied access to services or accommodations required by law, should contact the institution’s ADA Manager at disability@msmu.edu.

F.     Academic Grievance Policy (includes grade appeals) {see Student Handbook, Academic Grievance section} – for complaints that have not been resolved on a lower level (Instructor and Department Chair/Program Director) regarding:

  • Admission into a major or program
  • Disqualification from a major, a program, or from the University
  • Student academic performance evaluations (grades)
  • All other instructional matters (e.g., deviating from a syllabus, instructor absences)

Students must submit a written complaint to the Chair of the Academic Grievance Committee.

G.     Academic Integrity Policy and Appeals Procedure {see Student Handbook, Academic Integrity section} – for complaints regarding academic dishonesty, submit a written appeal to the Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee.

Personnel

Matthew Brosamer Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee mbrosamer@msmu.edu
Julia Chang Chair of the Grievance Committee jchang@msmu.edu
Laura Crow Dean of Student Life – Chalon lcrow@msmu.edu
Jessica Cuevas Dean of Student Life – Doheny/Sunset Gower jcuevas@msmu.edu
Leah Fitzgerald Dean of Nursing lfitzgerald@msmu.edu 
Pam Gist Dean, Traditional Undergraduate Programs, Doheny pgist@msmu.edu
Dana Lopez Human Resources/Title IX Deputy Coordinator for Staff dlopez@msmu.edu
Michael McFatridge Director of Security/Title IX Deputy Coordinator for Students mmcfatridge@msmu.edu
Bernadette Robert Title IX Coordinator brobert@msmu.edu
Lacey Smith Dean, Traditional Undergraduate Programs, Chalon lasmith@msmu.edu
Michele Starkey Title IX Deputy Coordinator for Faculty mstarkey@msmu.edu
Kimberly Terrill Title IX Deputy Coordinator for Students kterrill@msmu.edu
Suzanne Williams Dean, Weekend Evening College/Online swilliams@msmu.edu
Provost’s Office Provost’s Office provostoffice@msmu.edu

Resolution Options Outside of the University

It is expected that students will fully utilize any/all of the University’s administrative procedures to address concerns and/or complaints in as timely a manner as possible. On occasion, however, a student may believe that these administrative procedures have not adequately addressed their concerns. In those select cases, the following government and state agencies may be contacted:

An individual may contact the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education for review of a complaint. The bureau may be contacted at:           

California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education
P. O. Box 980818.
West Sacramento, CA 957-98-0818
Phone 888.370.7589
http://www.bppe.ca.gov/enforcement/complaint.shtml

An individual may also file a complaint with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission at the following link:  https://wascsenior.box.com/shared/static/qlfs91c4lujckblp2puy.pdf.

If you believe you have been discriminated or retaliated against on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age, you may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the following link:  https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html

Students who live in a state other than California may also contact their State Consumer Protection Agency.  See the following list of all State Consumer Protection Agencies.

Students who have an unresolved complaint about Financial Aid, may submit a complaint to the Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/contact/feedback

Students may also contact a variety of other State agencies or State Boards, which are involved in the evaluation and approval of institutional programs, or in the granting of professional certification or licensure.  These agencies include, but may not be limited to, the following:

Accreditation Council for Business School and Programs (ACBSP):
https://www.acbsp.org

Board of Registered Nursing (BRN)
http://www.rn.ca.gov/ 

Department of Public Instruction (teacher preparation programs):
http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/default.html 

Physical Therapists Affiliated Credentialing Board
http://www.ptbc.ca.gov/

If you are currently enrolled, or anticipate enrollment, in an educational program that requires State agency or board authorization and/or licensure and do not see it listed here, please contact the Provost’s Office at provostoffice@msmu.edu for further information.