Complaints & Grievances
Grievances Covered by This Policy
A grievance where a student believes, based on established administrative policies and procedures, that he or she has been treated in an arbitrary or capricious manner or been subjected to inappropriate behavior by a University office, department or other unit or division (herein referred to collectively as “unit”) or a representative of the University (faculty or staff). By way of example, grievances concerning violations of the University’s Freedom of Expression Regulation may be addressed under this Policy.
A grievance regarding free speech and freedom of expression related to the ECU Freedom of Expression Regulation should be addressed with the Dean of Students Office. Students, staff, and faculty have the freedom to discuss any problem that presents itself, as the First Amendment permits, and within the limits of viewpoint and content-neutral restrictions on time, place, and manner of expression that are necessary to achieve significant University interests. For additional information on the Freedom of Expression Regulation, please click here.
Grievances Not Covered by This Policy Include
The grievance process for grade appeals
Grievances under the Student Complaint Process outlined in the Faculty Manual
Grievances against a staff member to be submitted to the Human Resources Employee Relations Division
Grievances involving allegations of discrimination, harassment or retaliation based on membership in a protected class as set forth in the University’s Notice of Nondiscrimination Policy. These grievances should be referred to the Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity and would include grievances involving allegations of Prohibited Conduct under the Title IX Compliance and Resolution Regulation and/or University Regulation on Reports of Prohibited Interpersonal Violence and Related Misconduct.
Institutional Complaints, which are handled pursuant to the Institutional Complaints Standard Operating Procedure
East Carolina University (ECU) is committed to maximizing student success and providing the highest quality educational experience. In general, the investments that faculty and students make in assuring this excellence are part of ECU’s academic culture and are carried out in a very positive learning environment. Occasionally and for varied reasons, the experience can be negative. While this is a relatively rare event, ECU will provide a respectful and responsive avenue for students to lodge complaints concerning the performance of an instructor.
In addition, ECU must consider due process in notifying instructors of such complaints and in permitting appropriate responses. Complaints from students whose identity is known by a chair, dean or other administrative officer of the University will be properly investigated. Confidential student educational records, including student complaints containing personally identifiable information, shall remain confidential to the extent required by applicable law, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Informal Grievance Resolution
Prior to bringing a grievance forward against a University office or representative acting within their role or duty, students are encouraged to attempt a good-faith resolution of the grievance. This attempt may be made with the party directly involved with the disputed matter, or with the head of the department or unit in which the grievance arises. Please note that there are cases when it is appropriate to go directly to the formal grievance resolution process. Attempts at information resolution should be initiated within 30 days of the incident in dispute.
Formal Grievance Resolution
Should a situation arise in which a student is unable to resolve his or her grievance informally, the University’s formal grievance process may be employed. This process, outlined below, should also be initiated within 30 days of the failed informal resolution if applicable.
A formal grievance is presented in writing to the Associate Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students (120 Umstead Hall ECU Greenville, NC). This written grievance must include the following:
- Name, address and telephone number of the person making the grievance;
- Identification of the office or individual against whom the grievance is being brought;
- A description of the specific university action to be taken and/or the individual behavior resulting from the incident in this grievance;
- The date or period of time in which the behavior occurred and the location of the incident; and
- A listing of all individuals who witnessed any part of the incident being grieved.
Upon receipt of the formal grievance, a designee is appointed by the Associate Vice Chancellor/ Dean of Students to investigate the dispute.
If the grievance involves a university office or representative acting within their role or duty, the investigator determines the involvement of pertinent supervisors, department chairs and deans in the investigation. Depending upon the grievance, pertinent data (i.e., interview statements, documents) will be gathered by the investigator or the University office involved in the grievance. This data is then presented to the department for resolution.
If the grievance is based on personal misconduct by a faculty member or other University employee, the investigator gathers pertinent information and presents it to either the Provost (faculty complaint) or the Director of Employee Relations & Staff Development (staff complaint).
If a complaint cannot be resolved after exhausting East Carolina University’s procedure described above, the student may file a complaint with the following agencies:
- North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints, c/o Student Complaints, The University of North Carolina System, 223 S. West Street, Suite 1800, Raleigh, NC 27603, Telephone (919) 962-4550.
- Please review and complete the NC Post-Secondary Education Student Complaint Policy.
- The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (sacscoc.org), 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033, Telephone (404) 679-4500.Please visit the Complaints Against Institutions: Information Sheet and complete the Complaint Form to inform SACSCOC of the complaint.
- Complaints about East Carolina University may also be filed with the student’s home state by referring to the State Complaint Agencies for information on state-by-state student complaint processes.
- Students not residing in North Carolina and enrolled in a North Carolina institution that operates under SARA North Carolina may submit complaints to the organization listed below only after completing the complaint process established by the institution attended by the student. SARA North Carolina–North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA)
North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority
C/O SARA North Carolina
P.O. Box 41349
Raleigh, NC 27629
T: (855) SARA-1-NC (727-2162)
TTY: (919) 549-8614 ext. 4660.
Examples of types of student complaints that may be brought to a SARA portal entity include, but are not limited to, complaints regarding accuracy of job placement data, tuition or fee information, accreditation, whether a program meets licensure requirements, or course transfer information. SARA does not allow grade or student conduct appeals.