The Grievance Committee is the College’s board of appeals for academic decisions. In other than academic situations, the Dean of Students will determine specific disciplinary action. In all cases, disciplinary proceedings will be conducted in accordance with the due process requirements of the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students, which has been endorsed by the Board of Trustees.
The Grievance Committee consists of four representatives elected at large by the faculty, one of whom shall be an alternate; three student members (the secretary of the Student Association and the chairs of the Educational Policies and Student Life Committees; alternate is chair of the Planning Committee); and two administrators appointed by the President of the College. The Central Committee of the Student Association and the President also appoint, respectively, a standing alternate student and alternate administrative member to serve should a regular member need to be excused.
It is the right and responsibility of each committee member to ask the permission of the committee to recuse himself or herself in a particular case, if, in the member’s judgment, she or he is especially close to the accused or might be so perceived by the community or if she or he has a conflict of interest that might affect judgment in the case. The granting of this request is the decision of the chair of the committee.
Duties of the Grievance Committee
a. The committee will hear appeals of decisions imposed by the Executive Vice President, the Dean of the College, or the Deans of Student Affairs. Individuals may only appeal cases in which proper process was not followed. The committee will then make a recommendation to the President of the College.
b. (i) The committee will hear complaints by students against teachers for failure to meet contractual obligations or violation of the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students. It will make appropriate recommendations to the President.
(ii) The committee will hear complaints by students against the College’s administrative staff for failure to perform their duties according to recognized professional standards or violation of the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students. It will make appropriate recommendations to the President.
(iii) The committee may make policy recommendations to the three constituent elements of the Bard community: students, faculty, and administration. However, to be effective, the committee’s recommendations must be ratified by those elements of the Bard community that would be affected by the proposed policy.
All parties to grievance hearings shall be entitled to the same benefits of due process that the Joint Statement of Rights and Freedoms of Students provides students.
The committee must at all times be sensitive to both the rights of the individual to due process and the right of the Bard community to live in an environment in which the safety of the people and property is protected.
Due process includes the student’s right to be given written notice by the Dean of the College of the charges, to have no less than three and no more than six days to prepare a defense, and to choose someone within the Bard community to act as adviser. (In no case shall legal counsel be permitted to attend or participate in the hearings of the Grievance Committee.)
Pending action on the charges, the status of a student shall not be altered nor shall their right to be present on campus and to attend classes be suspended, except for reasons relating to their physical or emotional safety and well-being or for reasons relating to the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, or College property. This judgment will be made by the appropriate College authorities; that is, by the Executive Vice President, the Dean of the College, or the Dean of Students.
The Grievance Committee will provide, if requested to do so, a tape recording of the procedure from the beginning of the hearing to the time the committee goes into private session to decide the case.
The committee serves for the academic year. Faculty and administrators shall serve a two-year renewable term, students a one-year renewable term. The committee meets only when necessary, but at least once during each semester. At the first meeting, it elects a chair and a secretary for the remainder of that year. The chair must be a tenured faculty member. At the first meeting, the committee reviews its procedures, and members give the chair their schedule. The chair may designate an alternate to act in his or her absence. The alternate may be a non-tenured faculty member.
Hearing of Appeals The procedure for the Grievance Committee to hear appeals is as follows:
1. A student who wishes to appeal must do so in writing to the Dean of Studies, stating the grounds for appeal. This appeal must be made within 48 hours following the initial decision. Upon receipt of the appeal, the student will be put in touch with a member of the Central Committee of the Student Association.
2. The chair sets the time for the hearing (which should be no earlier than three days after the appeal is received and no later than six days). The Dean of Studies will notify in writing all members of the Grievance Committee, the witnesses (if applicable), and the person making the appeal of the time and place of the hearing. The Dean of Studies will also provide copies of the charges to all the above, except the witnesses.
3. Members of the community appearing before the committee should be only those who have information relevant to the case or direct involvement in the events in question. Proceedings are closed to all others.
4. In order for the hearing to proceed in an orderly fashion, it is the responsibility of the student making the appeal to give to the chair, before the hearing, the names of any witnesses and the name of the chosen adviser (if any) who will assist in the defense. The adviser (if any) may, with permission from the chair, present an initial defense and may request the repeating or clarifying of any statement made by those present. Any further comment or question may be made only by first gaining the permission of the chair.
5. The student making the appeal and the individual who brought the original charges have the right to be present throughout the hearing until the committee adjourns to discuss the case privately and reach a decision.
6. The appellant should provide the chair with a list of witnesses when filing the appeal. This facilitates calling witnesses and enables witnesses to prepare and adjust their schedules. The committee will hear from each person, as objectively as possible, in order to try to ascertain all the facts. No member of the committee will, at this time, express any personal opinion. All questions will be directed towards the process followed in the determination of actions taken. Once all questions of clarification from members of the committee have been raised, the Dean of Students or SJB chair is excused from the hearing.
7. The chair then calls in, one at a time, any witnesses who any of the above or the committee have requested to appear. Again, the committee’s responsibility is to ascertain facts pertaining to the case, not opinion. The committee may also call in any member of the community. The Grievance Committee has the right to suspend the hearing until a further time should written or oral evidence be found to be significantly in error, to call additional witnesses, or clarify evidence.
8. After all the witnesses have been heard, the person making the appeal remains and the individual who brought the original charges (if any) is offered the choice of staying or leaving. The committee may request that they or any witnesses return individually if further clarification is needed.
9. The appellant makes a closing statement to the committee, then the committee goes into private session to discuss the case and make its decision. (A simple majority vote shall uphold the decisions of the Executive Vice President or the Dean of the College.)
10. A letter is written addressed to the President of the College informing him of the Grievance Committee’s decision. The chair of the Grievance Committee presents this letter to the President and sends a copy of the letter to the student. The committee is not at liberty to discuss the decision with anyone until after the student has been notified.
11. The decision of the Grievance Committee may be appealed to the President.
12. In the case of such an appeal, or if the President considers the decision of the committee to be in error, the President shall review the evidence, write a response to the committee, and meet with them to discuss the matter seeking to reach a consensus.
13. In such cases, the President, as chief executive officer of the College, has the final decision, subject only to appeal to the Board of Trustees, and is the person who formally notifies the student of the outcome.
14. The file of each Grievance Committee hearing, containing any tape recordings of the hearings, any written evidence brought to the committee, and the written decision of the committee, is kept in the Dean of Student Affairs Office as a permanent record.
This policy is subject to change and revision during the year upon approval of faculty, students, and administration.
Hearings of Complaints The Grievance Committee is a last resort for complaints by students against teachers or administrators. For that reason, students contemplating such complaints should first exhaust other legitimate avenues of redress and then seek information about procedure and informal advice from members of the committee before filing a formal written complaint with the committee.