Policy identification number: To Come
File: Ethical & Responsible Conduct Policies / Anti-Discrimination Policies
This procedure resolves complaints brought under the Fort Lewis College Student Conduct Policy, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, Discriminatory Harassment Policy, and/or Disability Anti-Discrimination Policy. This policy may also resolve complaints brought under the Student Housing Guide, at the discretion of the Director of Housing and Conduct.
The Sexual Misconduct Policy is governed separately by the Sexual Misconduct Procedure. Cases that involve both a Sexual Misconduct Policy violation and another policy violation may be resolved under the Sexual Misconduct Policy alone, or under both the Sexual Misconduct Procedure and this procedure, at the Title IX Coordinator’s discretion, and as allowed by state and federal law
Dean of Student Engagement
October 5, 2018
October 1, 2022
vpsa, grievance, procedure, g
Scheduled for Review
I. Authority and Jurisdiction
The Dean of Student Engagement, acting on behalf of the President, will designate Coordinators to administer the Grievance Procedure
Employees (including staff and/or faculty) may be parties to cases governed by this procedure in some cases, at the discretion of the Coordinator. Employees who would not otherwise be entitled to this process may demand to be a party in a case.
Actions taken under these Procedures are separate and independent from any law enforcement or other court process or proceeding, such as a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution that may relate to the same underlying factual incident. The applicability of these Procedures is not dependent upon whether criminal charges are filed. Investigations or inquiries conducted by the College are not postponed while criminal or civil proceedings are pending unless determined appropriate by the College. Dismissal of criminal charges or acquittal in a criminal case does not prevent the College from investigating and adjudicating an incident.
Coordinator. In cases involving Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, Discriminatory Harassment Policy, and/or Disability Anti-Discrimination Policy the Coordinator is the Equal Opportunity Coordinator. In cases involving Fort Lewis College Student Conduct Policy, the Coordinator is the Dean of Student Engagement or their designee.
Complainant. A complainant is an individual or organization, including the College, filing a complaint. The College may also serve as a complainant where a concern was initially brought by an individual who no longer wishes to be the complainant, and where the College determines that the concern should be resolved under this procedure.
Disciplinary Authority. The disciplinary authority is the individual who has the authority or delegated authority to impose discipline upon a faculty, staff or student respondent.
Employee. Employee means any individual who receives payment from the College for work performed, including but not limited to faculty, exempt and classified staff, student employees, or temporary employees.
Investigator. An investigator means the individual designated by the Coordinator to investigate a complaint. The Coordinator may serve as the investigator.
Parties. Parties are the complainant and the respondent. The victim may be treated as a party for notice purposes, if the victim is not the complainant.
Respondent. Respondent is the individual against whom a complaint has been filed.
Sanctioning Authority: Sanctioning Authority means the individual who imposes and decides sanction. In cases involving complaints under Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, Discriminatory Harassment Policy, and/or Disability Anti-Discrimination Policy, the Equal Opportunity Coordinator will make a sanction recommendation to the Sanctioning Authority.
Student. Student means any individual who has confirmed admission to the College, is a new student at orientation, is currently enrolled in courses at the College, whether full-time or part-time, was enrolled in the previous semester, or is registered for a future semester.
Working Days. Working days are those days when the administrative offices of the College are open.
III. Procedures and Responsibilities
Grievance Procedures are an extension of the teaching mission of the institution and thus educational in intent whenever possible, particularly when students are parties. As such, the procedures used by the College are not subject to rules of civil or criminal proceedings. Some violations of policy may also be violations of Federal, State, or local laws and ordinances, and respondents may be accountable to both criminal or civil courts and the College for their misconduct.
The standard of proof required by Fort Lewis College for a finding of responsibility is a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., the information gathered demonstrates that it is “more likely than not” that the misconduct occurred).
V. Interim Measures
Students may be suspended from the College on an interim basis per Fort Lewis College’s “Interim Suspension Policy.”
VI. Method of Resolution
The Coordinator has the discretion to determine the appropriate means for addressing the report or complaint. Options include but are not limited to:
a. Early Resolution Process
Early Resolution applies in the following cases:
Early resolution takes place as follows:
Notice of a concern may be provided verbally.
Investigation, when it occurs due to disputed facts, may be summary and informal, consisting only of an incident report, and an interview with Respondent, for example.
Interview(s) may be conducted informally, with or without written follow-up. In potential separation cases, Parties may use the Interview to give input regarding sanction, including mitigating or aggravating circumstances. This can also be done in writing.
In cases where separation from the college is not contemplated, OR when there is a mutually acceptable resolution, sanction may be imposed forthwith by the applicable sanctioning authority.
There is no appeal option.
b. Investigative Resolution Process
In cases where housing removal or separation from the college is a possible sanction AND the facts are disputed, an investigation will take place.
An investigation may convert to an “Early Resolution Process” at any time if the case become undisputed and/or if there is an agreement by the parties as to sanction or outcomes, at the discretion of the Coordinator.
VII. Disciplinary Sanctions
A finding of responsibility and sanction under this Procedure may serve as grounds for restricting participation by Fort Lewis College offices, departments and organizations, apart from sanctions imposed through this process.
A. DISCIPLINARY SANCTIONS- STUDENTS
In student respondent cases, the investigator is the Sanctioning Authority and imposes sanctions.
The purposes of imposing sanctions is to assist respondents in identifying alternative modes of conduct that are more suitable to their successful attainment of their academic goals, to protect the College community from behaviors that are detrimental to the educational process, and to give restitution to complainants for loss or destruction of property. One or more of the following disciplinary sanctions may be imposed upon respondents. The severity of the sanctions imposed is intended to correspond with the severity and/or frequency of the violation, as well as the respondent's willingness to re-commit to good citizenship by choosing behaviors consistent with their educational goals and/or the College's mission. Subsequent policy violations may result in a more severe sanction.
The Coordinator will notify the employee’s disciplinary authority if a respondent was found to have violated a policy or acted inappropriately or unprofessionally.
Prior to the imposition of sanctions, employees whose terms of employment are also governed by other policies or procedures such as the Faculty Handbook or the State Personnel Board rules may be subject to those additional policies or procedures. The disciplinary authority will impose sanctions at the conclusion of such additional disciplinary policies and procedures.
If after the conclusion of other governing employee policies or procedures a sanction has not already been imposed, sanctioning occurs under this policy as permitted by controlling FLC policy, and local, state and federal law.
The disciplinary authority may have access to the investigative records. The investigator and the employee’s disciplinary authority will, together, determine appropriate sanctions. The investigator and the employee’s disciplinary authority may consult, as needed, with any other administrative staff, to determine appropriate sanctions.
Disagreements between the investigator and the employee’s disciplinary authority will be resolved by submitting the complaint and investigation information to the President or designee for review and final decision. The President or designee may have access to the investigative records and may consult with the investigator in order to take appropriate action.
Appeals are available only for student respondents in student disciplinary suspension or expulsion cases.
Appeals must be in writing and be received within five Working Days of the day the resolution letter is sent by the investigator. Failure to submit a request for appeal in writing in time will render the decision final and conclusive.
An appeal may be sought only on the grounds listed below and reasons for the appeal must be stated in the written request. Appeals will be denied in cases not having sufficient or appropriate reasons for appeal.
Grounds for Appeal
Respondent may appeal where there was significant prejudice to the Respondent AND any of the following grounds is present:
The sanction was not appropriate.
There was serious procedural error.
There is significant and relevant new information to the case that was not available at the time of the investigation.
Investigator or coordinator was biased.
The decision was not supported by the facts of the case.
The Appeal Authority for this procedure is the Dean of Student Engagement or their designee.
The Appeal Authority will review the appeal and the entire record of the case if there are sufficient grounds for the appeal. The Appeal Authority may also meet with the appellant to discuss the case. After review, the Appeal Authority shall take one of the following actions:
The written decision of the Appeal Authority will be e-mailed to the appellant’s Fort Lewis College e-mail address. The Appeal Authority’s decision is final for the Fort Lewis College disciplinary proceedings.
IX. Record Retention and Confidentiality
In all cases, the Coordinator shall retain the investigator’s report and the disciplinary authority’s final sanction decision for a minimum of three years or for as long as any administrative or legal action arising out of the complaint is pending. All records, reports and investigations shall be considered confidential and shall not be disclosed publicly except to the extent required by law. Student disciplinary files are kept for seven years from the final decision date except for expulsion cases, which are kept indefinitely.
Student Disciplinary Hold: While the Grievance Procedure is underway, the College may place a disciplinary hold on the student’s records. The disciplinary hold prohibits the student from registering for classes until the Procedure has been completed. A disciplinary hold may also be placed if a student fails to complete assigned sanctions, which has the same impact on a student’s records and registration as described above. The disciplinary hold will not be removed until all sanctions are completed. A disciplinary hold shall be placed on a student’s record if they are suspended from the College after being found in violation of any of the Relevant Policies.
Release of Student Information: Provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended by the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, govern access to a student’s disciplinary file. Students have the right to inspect and review their educational records. To do so, students must submit a written request to the Coordinator. The Coordinator will comply with a request for access within a reasonable time, not to exceed 45 days.
Employee Disciplinary Record: An individual employee’s disciplinary proceeding records will be added to the employee’s existing personnel file.
Re-Release of Information: Individuals who receive confidential information due to their participation in the Grievance Procedure, or due to the signed consent of the student whose records are in question, are prohibited from further disclosing/releasing the confidential information, unless expressly permitted by law as in cases involving a crime of violence or non-forcible sexual offense. Violation of this prohibition could result in additional charges or other appropriate action.
X. Review Process
A review of the Grievance Procedure will take place annually. This review will be initiated by the Equal Opportunity Coordinator and will include the following: the Dean of Student Engagement, the Equal Opportunity Coordinator, and the Human Resources Director or their designees.
For following the policy: All students and employees regardless of their employment classification
For enforcement of the policy: Dean of Student Engagement, Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinators, Equal Opportunity Coordinator
For oversight of the policy: Dean of Student Engagement
For notification of policy: Policy Librarian
For procedures implementing the policy: Dean of Student Engagement, Student Affairs, Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinators, Equal Opportunity Coordinator
Cross Referenced Policies
Approved by Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees: February 11, 2009. Revised by Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees: December 6, 2013. Revised by Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees: February 13, 2015. This revised policy was approved by the President's Cabinet on August 24, 2016 and the Board of Trustees on October 7, 2016. This revised policy was approved by the Board of Trustees on October 5, 2018. Updated position titles April 24, 2023