Jul 18, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
2022-2023 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

IV. Student Complaint or Grievance Policies and Procedures

The following section summarizes TTUHSC El Paso’s student complaint or grievance policies and procedures, other than those listed in Part V of this Institutional Student Handbook (e.g. Title IX and discrimination). Links to specific policies and procedures are provided on the Student Services and Student Engagement web page. 

It is the policy of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso to affirm the right of its students to a prompt and fair resolution of a complaint or grievance involving allegations of inappropriate behavior by other TTUHSC El Paso students or by TTUHSC El Paso personnel toward students. 

A. General or Academic Misconduct of another Student

Policies and procedures governing complaints regarding the general or academic misconduct of students are defined in the Code of Professional and Academic Conduct (Code), which is published as Part II of this handbook. Students, faculty, and staff are all encouraged to report violations of the Student Code in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedures outlined in the Student Code.

B. General Misconduct of a faculty or staff member toward a student

1. Framework

TTUHSC El Paso strives to provide an educational environment that is safe, equitable, and hospitable so that students across all schools have the opportunity to succeed in their academic programs. TTUHSC El Paso has a zero tolerance policy for student mistreatment by faculty and staff. Student mistreatment, intentional or unintentional, occurs when behavior shows disrespect for the dignity of others and interferes with the learning process. Examples of unacceptable student mistreatment at TTUHSC El Paso include, but are not limited to: 

  1. Disparaging or demeaning comments about an individual or group; 
  2. Loss of personal civility including shouting, displays of temper, public or private abuse, belittling, or humiliation; 
  3. Use of grading or other forms of evaluation in a punitive or retaliatory manner; 
  4. Sending students on inappropriate errands.   

Sexual harassment and assault, as well as discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, or sexual orientation are also forms of student mistreatment. The processes and procedures of such discrimination are found under Section V. C, of this handbook. 

The Student Mistreatment Policy does not cover appeals of academic grades, academic progression, or disciplinary action against a student at the school and institutional levels. Students should refer to the appropriate school and institutional academic and conduct policies and procedures through their school if they have any complaints. 

A grievance involving perceived mistreatment can be resolved in an informal or a formal manner.

2. Informal Grievance Resolution Process: 

A student pursuing an informal, nonacademic grievance resolution must contact their school’s Assistant/Associate Dean for Student Affairs, in writing, within twenty (20) business days of the alleged incident. The written informal complaint must include a short description of the alleged incident, the expressed desire to handle the issue informally, and the date it occurred. (If the grievance involves staff, faculty, student(s) from the broader TTUHSC El Paso community, the Assistant/Associate Dean for Student

Affairs will refer the informal grievance to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.) The Assistant/Associate Dean for Student Affairs will assist the student in the informal resolution of the grievance, to be completed within twenty (20) days from receipt of the student’s written grievance. If an informal resolution is not achieved, the aggrieved student has an additional five (5) business days to file a formal written grievance. 

3. Formal Grievance Resolution Process: 

To file a formal, nonacademic grievance the student must first contact their school’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs for a review of applicable policies and procedures. If the allegation is one of sexual harassment/assault or gender-based discrimination, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs will engage TTUHSC El Paso’s Title IX Director. 

The student must file a formal written grievance with the school-level Associate Dean for Student Affairs within twenty (20) business days from the alleged incident. The formal grievance must include a detailed description of the incident, the underlying reason for filing the formal grievance, and a proposed resolution, if possible. (If the grievance involves staff, faculty, student(s) from the broader TTUHSC El Paso community, the Assistant/Associate Dean for Student Affairs will refer the informal grievance to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.) 

Copies of the written grievance will be made available to named parties and the appropriate advocacy/supervisory authorities. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs (and appropriate institutional authorities noted above) may, at her/his discretion, hold discussions with or without the involved/accused individual(s) to hear and resolve the grievance, schedule a meeting between the student and the involved/accused individual(s) and/or involve other parties in facilitating a resolution of the grievance. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs has twenty (20) business days from receipt of the formal written grievance to resolve the grievance and will provide the aggrieved student a written summary of resolution. 

If the aggrieved student is dissatisfied with the resolution, they may file a formal written appeal with the School’s Dean within five (5) business days of the decision. The decision of the School Dean is final. The School Dean has twenty (20) business days to provide a written decision to the student and to the School’s Assistant/Associate Dean for Student Affairs. 

The Dean’s decision regarding the merits of the grievance and its resolution are final. If the student alleges that institutional policies were not followed, the student may appeal at the institutional level only if the student alleges he/she was not afforded due process.

Appeals on the basis of procedure violations must be submitted to the to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), or designee, within five (5) business days of receipt of the Dean’s decision pertaining to the non-academic grievance.

C. Discrimination

This handbook identifies several policies intended to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all members of the university community. The processes for filing complaints are detailed in the TTUHSC El Paso Operating Policies and Procedures. The following list identifies key institutional policies governing complaints regarding discrimination:

HSCEP OP 51.01 Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Affirmative Action Program

HSCEP OP 51.02 Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure

HSCEP OP 51.03 Sexual Misconduct

HSCEP OP 51.04 Access for Individuals with Disabilities

Information related to Anti-Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures (including Title IX) is detailed in Section V. of this handbook and is developed in conjunction with Texas Tech University System Regulation 07.10 Non-Discrimination and

Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure, HSCEP OP 51.02, Texas Tech University System Regulation 07.06 Sexual Misconduct, and HSCEP OP 51.03

D. Student Records

For details associated with filing complaints related to student records, see HSCEP OP 77.13 Student Education Records

E. TTUHSC El Paso Employment

Information about employment grievances for students who are employed at TTUHSC El Paso is provided in HSCEP OP 70.10, Non-faculty Employee Complaint and Grievance Procedures. This policy covers complaints concerning issues pertaining to wages, hours, working conditions, performance evaluations, merit raises, job promotions, job assignments, or similar matters involving management decisions concerning the employee.

F. Grades and Grading

The processing of formal grade appeal procedures is the responsibility of the school that administers the course. Relevant school policies are included in their catalogs and handbooks.

G. Digital Citizenship Guidelines

TTUHSC El Paso defines digital citizenship as, the use of critical thinking and ethical choices and the recognition of the rights and responsibility related to living, learning and working in an interconnected community.  Digital content must be considered through the impact on oneself, others, and one’s community of what one sees, says, and produces with media, devices, and technology. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) outlines the following as indicators of digital citizens:

  1. Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.
  2. Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.
  3. Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

Students manage their personal data to maintain digital privacy and security and are aware of data-collection technology used to track their navigation online.

Students who feel that they have been harassed in a digital environment from a faculty, staff or student member may file a grievance as defined by the Code. Forms of harassment are defined by Texas Penal Code - Penal § 42.07 where a person acts with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another person via electronic communications. 

H. Other Types of Mistreatment

Students who feel that they have been mistreated in a manner that is not directly addressed by any of the specific policies identified above are encouraged to refer to the policies and procedures governing student complaints, grievances, and appeals within their school. Relevant school policies include the following:

Students should process their complaints or appeals through the appropriate channels. Procedures are delineated in the policies identified above. Students are required to bring their concerns to the designated student affairs officer of their school. The student affairs officer in each school is as follows:

  • Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing: Associate Dean for Academic Programs
  • Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences: Dean
  • Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso: Associate Dean for Student Affairs
  • Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine: Associate Dean for Student Affairs

The deans of the schools have final authority in resolving disputes related to academic issues, such as grading and promotion, and in non-academic issues involving the school’s faculty and staff.

Every effort should be made to resolve complaints against faculty and other school personnel at the school level. If the complaint is about personnel or services at the institutional level, the student is advised to contact the TTUHSC El Paso Office of Student Services and Student Engagement (SSSE) in accordance with the following institutional-level student complaint procedures. 

I. Other Institutional-Level Student Complaint Procedures

The procedures defined below apply to student complaints that fall outside the scope of other institutional and school-based policies and procedures governing specific types of student complaints, including, for example, student complaints against staff members or TTUHSC El Paso administrators employed at the institutional level (outside of Title IX). The TTUHSC El Paso Office of Student Services and Student Engagement will administer this institutional policy and will insure that due process is afforded to all concerned.

1. Early Resolution

Prior to contacting the TTUHSC El Paso Office of Student Services and Student Engagement (SSSE), the student shall attempt to resolve the issue with the individual(s) involved. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome after meeting with the individual or does not feel comfortable talking to the administrator or staff member involved, the student may contact the Assistant Vice President for SSSE. The student shall address the issue and initiate action under this policy within twenty (20) days of the event-giving rise to the complaint.

The Assistant Vice President for SSSE or designee may counsel the student to discuss the issue with the involved administrator or staff member. If the student does not feel comfortable talking to the person involved, the Assistant Vice President for SSSE or designee will investigate the complaint, attempt to reconcile differences, and propose a solution. The Assistant Vice President for SSSE or designee will provide a written statement of his or her recommendation to all parties within ten (10) business days following the initial receipt of the student’s report of the complaint. All involved parties will then have ten business days to respond. Every effort should be made to resolve the issue without going beyond this level. 

(If the complaint is against the Assistant Vice President for SSSE, the student should meet with the Vice President for Academic Affairs, who will follow the procedures outlined here.)

         2. Filing a hearing request

If the student is not satisfied with the recommendation of the Assistant Vice President Student Services and Student Engagement (SSSE) or designee, they may file a request for a hearing by submitting a written complaint to the Assistant Vice President SSSE.

  1. The hearing request must include a specific statement of the student’s complaint, an explanation of what remedy the student seeks, and a copy of the Assistant Vice President for SSSEs’ or designee recommended resolution.
  2. If the student files a request for a hearing, a Student Hearing Committee as defined below must convene within 15 business days.

         3. Hearing Procedure

Upon receipt of a written request for a hearing, the Assistant Vice President for Student Services and Student Engagement (SSSE) or designee will appoint a Hearing Committee according to the following procedure:

  1. Each party will propose in writing a list of four TTUHSC El Paso faculty, staff, and/or students to serve on the Hearing Committee. The Assistant Vice President for SSSE or designee will contact one person from each list in order of the submitting party’s preference to determine the person’s willingness to serve. Through this process, one person will be selected from each list. The two people selected will then select a third member (a TTUHSC El Paso faculty or staff member) and these individuals will comprise the Hearing Committee. This group will select a chair from among themselves.
  2. The Assistant Vice President for SSSE or designee will provide technical assistance and support to this committee.
  3. As soon as the hearing is scheduled, the chair of the Hearing Committee will send a written notice to all involved parties. The notice will specify the time, place, and nature of the hearing, plus a brief description of the complaint. The notice will also confirm the right of all involved parties to present witnesses and evidence and to be accompanied by counsel for advisory purposes only.
  4. At least five days prior to the hearing, all parties will provide to the chair of the Hearing Committee and the Assistant Vice President for SSSE or designee a list of the names of any witnesses or counsel who will attend the hearing in addition to any evidence that will be offered. If the student will be advised by counsel, the University may be represented by the Office of General Counsel. The student and the involved individuals(s) shall have access to all information to be considered by the Hearing Committee, including the names of all persons giving evidence.
  5. The student and the involved parties shall attend the hearing and be offered an opportunity to state their positions and present testimony and other evidence relevant to the case. The responsibility of establishing the validity of the complaint rests with the student.
  6. The Hearing Committee chair shall keep a recording of the hearing, which shall include date, time, and location of the hearing, names of those present, and any evidence introduced (e.g., records, written testimony, duplicated materials). Deliberations will not be recorded.

          4. Committee Decision

After completion of the hearing, the Hearing Committee shall meet in closed session and prepare a written decision. Copies of the Hearing Committee chair’s report shall be forwarded to the involved parties within five business days.

          5. Appeal

Within ten business days of receipt of the decision of the Hearing Committee, if either party believes that the due process procedures have been violated, an appeal may be made, in writing, to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). 

The VPAA will review the case and notify all parties of their decision within ten business days. 

If a written appeal is not submitted within ten business days following receipt of the Hearing Committee decision letter, the right to appeal is thereby waived and said decision is final.

The Accused Student or Complainant may only raise, and the VPAA shall only consider, the following:

  1. A procedural deviation occurred that substantially affected the outcome of the case;
  2. There is new information sufficient to alter the Findings or other relevant facts not available or mentioned in the original hearing, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of the original hearing.

The VPAA  will review the Findings and Recommendations and, at his or her sole discretion, the record from the Hearing Committee and supporting documents, and transmit his or her decision in writing to the Complainant, the Hearing Committee chair, and the Assistant Vice President for SSSE. The VPAA’s decision shall be final.

The VPAA will review the Hearing Committee decision and render a decision within five business days. The decision of the Vice President for Academic Affairs is final.