246 DiGiorgio Campus Center, Rock Hill, SC 29733 · 803/323-4503 · 803/323-4514 (FAX)

Student Complaint Procedures

Winthrop University maintains a comprehensive array of processes and procedures to promptly address student complaints, especially written ones. For both academic and non-academic complaints, rigorous and robust response mechanisms and records of actions are maintained by appropriate university officials. It is the role of the University to protect the rights and privileges of all parties involved.

Winthrop University wants students to have positive educational experiences in which student concerns can be expressed openly and readily. Student complaints are addressed in a fair and professional manner, and the policies and procedures concerning student complaints are well publicized and provide consistent guidelines for resolution. To address and resolve their complaints as quickly as possible, students should contact the office responsible for overseeing the immediate area causing the concern. There are multiple access points for students to address complaint procedures. Records of complaints and their resolutions are maintained by each office.

If students are uncertain to whom or where to address their written complaints, they can contact the Dean of Students in the Department of Student Affairs, 246 DiGiorgio Campus Center or call 803 / 323-4503. The student and Dean (or designee) can schedule a meeting to discuss the complaint if the student desires. The Dean (or designee) will help the student in resolving the complaint. If unable to address the complaint immediately because of policy or procedural requirements, the Dean (or designee) will assist the student in directing the complaint to the appropriate university official or office better able to address the matter.

Students with complaints involving the following issues are advised to contact:

Students may also complete the Division of Student Life complaint form ( below ) when it is alleged that a Student Life policy or procedure was not followed or implemented consistently. Completed forms may be delivered to the Vice President for Student Life in the DiGiorgio Campus Center suite 238.

( PDF ) Division of Student Life Complaint Form

Students with complaints involving Winthrop University polices for resolving undergraduate or graduate student complaints regarding academic issues including appeals for variations in the college level requirements, University-level general education requirements, academic ineligibility, grades, and other college-level general complaints:

Click on a section to view the contents.

  • College Level

    Academic Petitions for College / Department Requirements

    Each college has a procedure for addressing student petitions regarding department and / or college academic requirements. Consult the web site of the appropriate college for further information about procedure and the procurement of forms:

  • University Level Academic Complaints

    Academic Petitions for Waivers in General Education and Other University - wide Academic Regulations ( Undergraduate Students )

    Any undergraduate student may appeal for variations in the general education requirements and other university-wide academic regulations by submitting a typed petition to the Committee on Undergraduate Petitions. Petitions may be accessed here.

    Petitions must be accompanied by supporting statements or other documentary evidence that the student judges pertinent to the process. Petitions should be addressed to the Committee on Undergraduate Petitions, in care of the Registrar, and should include the student's name, student number, address, major, class, telephone number, and name of adviser. A petition form is available in the Office of Records and Registration.

    To be considered at a regular monthly meeting, petitions must be received by the Registrar at least one week prior to the published meeting date of the Petitions Committee. The Registrar forwards the petitions, along with any supporting documents, to the Undergraduate Petitions Committee and relays to the student the decisions reached by the Committee. (Refer to "Recourse For Academically Ineligible Students" for specific instructions pertaining to petitions concerning academic ineligibility.)

    Students may appeal the decision of the Committee through the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The request to see the vice president or his / her designee should be in writing. The student and the Office of Records and Registration will be notified of the final appeal decision.

    Petition Procedure as Recourse for Academically Ineligible Students

    1. A typed petition from the student must be presented to the Registrar stating the specific extenuating circumstances (see Item 4 following) which prevented the student from succeeding in his or her course work. This petition must be accompanied by a physician's supporting statement or by other documentary evidence of extenuating circumstances. The petition must include the student's name, student number, address, major, class, telephone number, and advisor's name. A petition form is available in the Records and Registration Office. The petition must be accompanied by a plan of action regarding future academic work. The Dean of University College is available to assist in the development of this plan.
    2. The typed petition and the accompanying plan of action must be received by the Registrar at least one week before the beginning of the semester for which the student wishes to be readmitted.
    3. The Registrar forwards the petition, along with all supporting documents, to the Petitions Committee.
    4. Decisions are based only on extenuating circumstances such as illness, death in the family, or emergency military service.
    5. Those who are readmitted by the Committee are notified and are allowed to register for courses.
    6. Students may appeal the decision of the Committee through the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The request to see the vice president or his / her designee should be in writing. The student and the Office of Records and Registration will be notified of the final appeal decision.

    If an academically ineligible student feels there are extenuating circumstances in his or her situation, special consideration may be asked of the Committee on Undergraduate Petitions. You can access the petition here.

    Academic Petitions for Waivers in Graduate Education and Other University-wide Academic Regulations ( Graduate Students )

    Any graduate student may appeal for variations in university-wide graduate policies and regulations by submitting a petition, written by the student, to the Graduate Petitions Committee through the Graduate School. Instructions for a petition may be found on the Graduate School website. Petitions must be typed in the recommended format and signed by the student.

    Signatures from the student's advisor, department chair, and dean or graduate director are required. Petitioners are encouraged to attach a letter of recommendation from their advisor; however, letters of recommendation are optional. The Assistant Dean of the Graduate School will forward the petition and all accompanying documentation to the Graduate Petitions Committee. The student, advisor, and the college dean will be notified of the decision once it is made.

    Meeting dates of the Petitions Committee are available in the Graduate School. The chair may call special meetings of the Petitions Committee. Appeals of the decision of the Graduate Petitions Committee may be made to the Dean of the Graduate School. If the student is unsatisfied with the decision, final appeals may be made to the Vice President for Academic Affairs in writing.

    Grade Appeal Procedures ( Procedures for Graduate and Undergraduate Students )

    Students and faculty members should try to resolve grade problems informally. If no satisfactory solution is reached, the student has 30 days from the issuance of a grade report in which to initiate a formal written grade appeal to the appropriate department chair. After that time, it is assumed the grade report is correct; and it becomes a part of the student's permanent record. The department chair will address the case in writing. The student may appeal the chair's decision to the dean in writing. The dean will provide a decision in writing to the student within 30 days of receiving the appeal.

    University-level / Academic Conduct Committee

    If the student feels that resolution of the appeal was not successful, the dean will then refer the case to the Academic Conduct Committee for a hearing within 10 working days. The Academic Conduct Committee has jurisdiction in two kinds of cases:

    1. A case in which a student has accused a faculty member of violating stated course grading policies.
    2. A case in which a student has reason to believe that an error has been made in computing or recording his or her grade for a particular assignment or for the course. The committee will not hear cases in which a student simply feels that he or she has received unfair treatment.

    Powers: The committee will be limited to recommending that a given grade remain unchanged, be changed to a different grade or be changed to a zero (for a particular assignment). The recommendation will be based on a majority decision of the five voting members. Copies of the recommendation will be forwarded to the student(s), department chair and academic dean. Protecting the anonymity of the parties involved, the committee will submit reports to Academic Council or to the Graduate Council; these reports will be forwarded upon request to Faculty Conference and to the Council of Student Leaders. Records of all committee hearings and actions will be kept for no more than one year.

    Membership: Membership of the Committee on Academic Conduct consists of a non-voting chair to be appointed by the chief academic officer of the University and five voting members - two faculty members elected by the faculty, two upper class and / or graduate students appointed by the Council of Student Leaders, and one faculty member appointed by the chair or dean of the department or college in which an academic conduct case originates. The committee chair will serve for one year. One faculty member will be elected for a two-year term; the other faculty member will be elected for a one-year term. The students will be appointed to one- year terms. Each subsequent year one new faculty member will be elected to a two-year term. The faculty member appointed by the chair or dean of the department or college will serve only for the designated case. The chief academic officer will have such powers to appoint representatives as necessary for the summer interim.

    Other College-Level Academic Complaints ( Graduate and Undergraduate )

    Complaints dealing with department-level decisions are ideally handled through discussion with the faculty member directly involved. In a situation where the informal resolution process does not occur, the student may submit a formal written complaint to the chair of the appropriate department. The complaint must be in writin and be accompanied by pertinent documentation concerning

    1. the specific action or decision involved in the dispute
    2. the consequences of the action or decision
    3. what resolution is being sought
    4. why it should be granted. The complaint should be submitted no later than the end of the semester from which the matter in question arose

    The chair will provide a decision in writing to the student, normally 10 business days following the receipt of the complaint.

    The student has 10 business days to appeal the chair's decision in writing to the dean of the appropriate college. The dean may call together an advisory committee to review the appeal and examine the complaint. The dean will issue a statement in writing to the student normally within 10 business days of the receipt of the appeal.

    The student may appeal the dean's decision in writing to the Office of the Vice President Academic Affairs who will inform the student and the dean in writing of the final decision. All decisions of the vice president are final.

    This policy does not apply to complaints concerning decisions of the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or the BioSafety Committee.

    Deadlines: All administrators involved will strive to resolve the issues in a timely fashion; however, every situation is different and holidays and other issues may prevent meeting deadlines. Every effort will be made by the parties involved to move the issue through the appropriate process.

Glossary of Terms

Policy: A written statement governing the actions of Winthrop University's administrators, faculty, staff, students, visitors and others who come in contact with the university. Academic policies are those pertaining to student's progress toward the completion of a degree program (course substitutions, grades, cultural events). Non-academic policies refer to functions outside the student's academic endeavors (parking, housing).

College-Level Policies: Policies established under the authority of a department / college that apply to students in a particular major or program.

University Level Policies: Policies established under the auspices of the university and applied to all students enrolled in or under consideration for admission to the university.

Petition for Waiver or Variance: A request for a waiver of college or university policy, which, if applied, would cause undue hardship on the student.

Appeal: A request that a decision regarding a petition or complaint be considered at a higher level in the university.

Issuance of a Grade Report: This is defined as when access to a grade report is available online.