Student Complaints Policy and Procedures
Columbia College Chicago takes student complaints seriously and endeavors to resolve concerns in a timely and effective manner. Various offices on campus address student complaints regarding the integrity and quality of the College’s academic programs, the effectiveness of student services, application of college policies and procedures, student interactions with faculty and staff members, and other functions affecting the student experience. This Student Complaints Policy and Procedures (the “Policy”) establishes procedures for reporting complaints to the College.
Students should report concerns promptly. Timely reporting helps ensure a well-informed resolution and the best opportunity to improve the student’s experience at Columbia.
Harassment and Discrimination Complaints
Columbia College Chicago is committed to maintaining an environment that respects the dignity of all individuals. Accordingly, Columbia does not tolerate harassment or discrimination by its faculty, staff, or students based on age, gender, race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Students with complaints of harassment or discrimination should follow the procedures in the college’s Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
Procedures for Grade Grievances
The faculty member and chairperson of the department in which the disputed grade was awarded resolve grade grievances. Every attempt should be made to resolve the grade grievance through consultations between the student and the instructor or among the student, instructor, and the department chairperson (or subject-area coordinator when that person is charged with resolving grade grievances). In the event that these consultations fail to resolve the grievance, an appeal procedure to the dean of the school is available to students. For the procedure to go forward, written documentation is required. All documents must be dated.
The grading and evaluation policies outlined in the course syllabus will form the basis for resolution of all grade grievances.
- A grade grievance occurs when a student protests a grade awarded on the final grade roster. The grievance must be filed within three weeks of the student’s receipt of the grade.
- Every grade grievance must be submitted in writing by the student to the instructor who awarded the grade. The student must copy the department chairperson when the original grievance is submitted to the instructor.
- The instructor will respond in writing to the student and send a copy to the department chairperson.
- If the response from the instructor is not satisfactory to the student, a written petition of appeal to the department chairperson (or, in some departments, to the subject-area coordinator, designated by the chair) must be submitted.
- The chairperson or coordinator will respond to the student’s petition of appeal.
- If the decision of the chairperson or coordinator is unsatisfactory to the student, he/she/they may appeal to the dean of the appropriate school, whose decision over every substantive, procedural, or related issue shall be final and cannot be appealed.
In general for all other types of complaints, Columbia College Chicago has a department or office resolution process designed to provide productive solutions and responses to student concerns.
Classroom/Academic Service Department Complaints
Students should first direct complaints about an academic department, including instruction and classroom and department services, to the attention of the head of the department or program with which they have a concern. If a student believes that he/she/they is not able to resolve a complaint within the department or program, the student should take the complaint to the school dean. Listings of departments in each school are on the college web site.
Student Affairs/Student Service Office Complaints
Students should first direct complaints about all other offices and aspects of the student experience outside of the classroom to the head of the office associated with the complaint. If a student believes that he/she/they is not able to resolve a complaint within office, the student should take the complaint to the Associate Vice President of the unit. Listings of units and offices are on the college web site.
If either classroom/academic-service or student-affairs/student-service complaint is not successfully resolved at the level of department or office, a student may choose to officially document the complaint and seek formal resolution using the Institutional Complaint Process described below. Students may not use the Institutional Complaint Process for grade grievances.
Institutional Student Complaint Process
Students should submit formal, documented complaints related to an academic department or an academic service to the Assistant Provost for Academic Services. Academic services include: Admissions; Registrar; Advising, Graduate Services; International Programs, the Library, and the Learning Studio.
Students should submit formal, documented complaints related to all other offices and aspects of the student experience outside of the classroom to the Office of the Dean of Students.
Both offices follow these general procedures:
- The student must report a formal complaint promptly, preferably within 30 days after the concern arises, or after receiving a response from the department or office head and/or dean of the school. A student must begin the department-or-office-based resolution process during the term in which the concern arises, and must register, if applicable, an officially documented complaint no later than thirty days after the first day of classes of the term immediately following the term during which the concern arose.
- The student must submit officially documented complaints in writing with an explanation of the concern or appeal, including a full description of the matter, a description of the efforts that have been made to resolve the issue through the department/school or policy based resolution process, and a statement of requested remedy. Students must submit complaints themselves* and include accurate contact information. The College will not respond to anonymous complaints through the Institutional Complaint Process.
*Note: Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1976 (FERPA) a student enrolled in a post-secondary education institution is the sole guardian of all records maintained by that institution, which includes complaints. Students must complete and sign a release form available from the Office of the Registrar if they choose to include their parents or other individuals in the complaint process or make information about a complaint available to their parents or others
- The Assistant Provost for Academic Services or the Dean of Students will notify the student when they receive the complaint and will provide a written response to the student after they have investigated the complaint. Responses will be provided in a timely manner.
State of Illinois and Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Contact Information
Students should make full use of Columbia’s established processes to resolve complaints. On occasion, a student may believe that he/she/they cannot resolve their concern through these processes. If the complaint alleges violations of applicable state laws, including laws and regulations related to state authorization of higher education (postsecondary institutions), the student has the option to contact the following State of Illinois agencies [http://about.colum.edu/external-resources.html]:
Illinois Board of Higher Education
431 East Adams, 2nd Floor
Springfield, IL 62701-1404
Institutional Complaint Hotline (217) 557 7359
Illinois State Board of Education (In regard to the College’s teacher training programs)
100 North 1st Street
Springfield, IL 62777
Illinois Attorney General
Consumer Fraud Bureau
500 South 2nd Street
Springfield, IL 62706
Consumer Fraud Hotline 800-243-0618
Columbia College Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The purpose of the HLC is “to validate quality in and to stimulate improvement of higher education. It achieves these purposes through processes of accreditation based on criteria and requirements, made effective through a system of peer review, and communicated to both educational institutions and to the public.”
If a student believes that he/she cannot resolve a complaint related to the HLC accreditation criteria and polices, the student has the option to contact the HLC. The HLC will ask the college to respond to complaints relevant to the college’s ability to meet the criteria for accreditation. Information about the Commission, its criteria for accreditation and policies is available at The Higher Learning Commission - Home. Contact the HLC at Contact Us or at:
The Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street Suite, 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1411
800-621-7440/312-263-0456 Fax 312-263-7462
Columbia College Chicago provides this information about student complaints in compliance with the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) and United States Department of Education regulations.