Grievances: Non-Academic

Situations sometimes arise in which students feel that they have not been dealt with fairly, do not agree with a policy decision made by an office of the University, or have a complaint about the performance of a member of the staff or faculty of the University. The University has a set of procedures designed to address these kinds of problems. Student Affairs can assist students who have non-academic complaints or grievances and need help in determining the procedures to be followed.

As a general rule, a complaint from a student who is dissatisfied with a situation or event should be directed to the person(s) whose actions or inactions have given rise to the complaint. Whenever possible, every effort should be made to resolve the problem fairly and promptly at that level. In the event that a student is not able to satisfactorily resolve the matter with those directly involved, he or she may pursue the issue within the normal reporting structure (appropriate administrative channels) of the academic or administrative unit.

Students who are uncertain as to the proper procedure to follow for a particular grievance or who would like to seek help should submit an Incident Report to Student Affairs.

Students with disabilities who believe they have received inappropriate treatment or inadequate service from the University pertaining to their granted accommodations have the right to file a grievance with Director of Disability Services. The grievance must be submitted in writing to Office of Disability Services and should include a detailed description of the inappropriate or inadequate service and supporting documentation (when appropriate). Students with disabilities must indicate the resolution they are seeking.

Students with disabilities who are unsatisfied with the response from the Director of Disability Services may submit an appeal within 5 business days to the ADA Coordinator, Dr. Ann Coyne, Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students, Student Affairs Office, 12th floor 73 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108, 617-573-8239, TDD: 617-557-4875. Students with disabilities must state the resolution they are seeking. The decision of the appeal by the Dean of Students is final.

Grievances Related to Students Enrolled in an Online Program

Suffolk University is approved to operate in Massachusetts SARA by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) to offer distance education in SARA member states and territories.  Consistent with 610 CMR 12.00 [PDF], students must attempt to resolve complaints at the institutional level.

For Massachusetts Residents and Online Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories

After you have exhausted the non-academic complaint procedures made available by Suffolk University, described above, if your complaint has not been resolved, you may file a consumer complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) by using the AGO’s consumer complaint form.  The AGO consumer complaint form should be used by students who are located in:

  • Massachusetts
  • Non-SARA member states or territories (e.g., California, Guam, etc.)
For Online Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories

After you have exhausted the non-academic complaint procedures made available by Suffolk University, described above, if your complaint has not been resolved, you may file a complaint with the DHE by using the SARA complaint form.  The DHE SARA complaint form should be used by students who are located in SARA member states and territories.  This includes all students who are located in SARA member states and territories for the purposes of completing out-of-state learning placements, such as internships, practica, clinical experiences, etc., in SARA member states and territories outside Massachusetts.

Additional information from the DHE’s SARA complaint website:

The SARA complaint process is as follows:

  1. Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by the SARA institution.
  2. After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with the MA-SARA institution, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via the URL below.
  3. The Department shalls end a copy of the complaint to the institution that is the subject of the complaint.
  4. Within 30 days of the date that the Department sends a copy of the complaint to the institution, the institution must provide a written response to the student and the Department.

More information about DHE’s complaint processes can be found in this [PDF].