Savannah State University
Fifth-Year Interim Report
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FR 4.5 Student Complaints

The institution has adequate procedures for addressing written student complaints and is responsible for demonstrating that it follows those procedures when resolving student complaints.

Compliance                     ___ Non-Compliance


Savannah State University has maintained its commitment to addressing student concerns, grievances and appeals in a way that will provide equal opportunity and unbiased treatment in a prompt and fair way.  Policies and procedures are detailed in accessible ways through the University website, the Student Handbook, and the University catalog.   

Sexual Harassment Policy

It is the policy of Savannah State University that all employees and students are able  to  work  in  an  environment  free  from  all  forms  of  discrimination,  including sexual harassment. SSU provides a mechanism to protect the rights of claimants and respondents to support an environment in which SSU is free of sexual harassment through the protection of these rights and the standardization of practices. This policy is located online and in print through the Student Handbook


Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures

The University takes seriously its commitment to fostering and maintaining an environment conducive to student learning and growth through curricular and co-curricular programs. At the same time, the University has high expectations that students govern their behavior, actions, and practices responsibly and civilly. Students are, therefore, expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the objectives and standards of conduct established by Savannah State University. Finally, students are expected to know and abide by the Code of Student Conduct. A violation of any section of the code will lead to disciplinary action regardless of factors such as class level (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate student), age, race/ethnicity, place of residence (e.g., University Village, University Commons or a traditional residence hall), or whether on or off campus.

Oral Grievances

The Ombudsperson is an impartial person who provides confidential and informal assistance for resolving University-related concerns, especially those that are not being adequately addressed through usual procedures.  The Ombudsperson is independent of the University's formal administrative structure and considers all sides of an issue in an impartial and objective manner. An Ombudsperson cannot impose solutions but can help to identify strategies for resolution.

The Office of the Ombudsperson will not adjudicate, arbitrate, or give legal advice.  However, the Ombudsperson shall be committed to the following:

  •     Accessible:  This is a service to help ensure a healthy, successful, progressive experience at Savannah State University.  We are here to help you resolve your issues.

  •     Independent:  We offer a more relaxed setting to discuss issues and concerns.

  •     Neutral:  The Ombudsperson will hear and assess complaints as an unbiased third party, however, if he/she determines that a policy or procedure has not been applied in a fair and consistent manner, he/she may advocate for fairness.

  •     Confidential:  All inquiries remain confidential except in a situation where there is a threat of imminent harm to self or others.  This office is NOT a reporting office, and confidentiality is easily maintained.  

Written Grievance Procedures

Students of Savannah State University who believe they have been treated unfairly with respect to academic matters or are convinced that they have been discriminated against in any matter based on race, color, handicap, religion, age, national origin or sex, may initiate and pursue the grievance procedure.

Preliminary Steps

The student should first discuss the matter with the person or persons directly involved, in an attempt to resolve the grievance through informal discussion.

If there is no resolution, the student discusses the matter with the department chairperson to whom those directly involved report (or if the department chairperson is directly involved, with the school dean; if the school dean is directly involved, with the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs who shall attempt to mediate an informal resolution.)

If reconciliation has still not been achieved the student shall submit to the Student Grievance Committee through the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs a written statement of the grievance (Student Complaint Form). The statement shall contain:

  • A brief narrative of the condition giving rise to the grievance:

  • A designation of the parties involved; and

  • A statement of the remedy requested.

Formation of the Committee

At the beginning of each academic year each school shall choose from among its faculty two representatives to serve on the Student Grievance Committee pool for that year.

The members of the pool shall choose one of their number to serve as Chairperson of the Student Grievance Committee for the academic year, and one to serve as Vice-Chairperson. The Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson shall not be from the same department/school.

At the beginning of each academic year the Executive Committee of Student Government shall select two undergraduate students to serve on the Student Grievance Committee pool for that year. Two graduate students will be selected by the Graduate Program Directors.

Upon receipt of a written statement of a grievance, the Vice President of Academic Affairs shall notify the Committee Chairperson (or Vice-Chairperson if the grievance involves the Chairperson's department.) The committee is composed of a Chairperson (or Vice-Chairperson, as appropriate), three faculty members in the pool from disciplines most closely related to the discipline concerned in the grievance (however, no faculty member shall be selected from the department involved in the grievance), and a student. The student member shall be from the same academic level (graduate or undergraduate) as the student bringing in the grievance, but the student member shall not be enrolled in the same department as the grievant.

Committee Action

Upon receipt of the written statement of an academic grievance, the Student Grievance committee shall determine prior to considering the grievance whether discussions between the student, persons directly involved, department chairperson, and school dean have been exhausted in attempting to resolve the grievance informally.

If the grievant proceeds with the grievance, the parties named in the statement is notified of the receipt of a grievance naming them, and a copy of the statement is sent to the named parties and to all committee members. The grievant and respondent are notified of their rights to challenge committee members for cause, and request early notification of challenge(s) to expedite the grievance procedures. Included in this notification will be a list of the names of committee members.

The committee will meet within ten (10) days after receiving the written statement to review the statement and render a decision as to whether sufficient grounds are present to warrant a hearing, and the grievant and the named parties are notified of its decision in writing.  If a hearing is held, all parties involved are notified in writing, including any witnesses, of the date, time and place of the hearings at least ten (10) days prior to the date of the hearing. The hearing date shall be within twenty (20) days of the decision to hold a hearing.

The parties involved are informed that the burden of proof rests with the grievant, and that each party may be accompanied to the hearing by an advisor, who may actually participate in the hearing only if specifically addressed by the Committee.  The committee may request, in writing, from all parties involved any pertinent material deemed necessary for review by the committee prior to the hearing. These materials, plus any additional materials either party chooses to submit, must be submitted to the committee no later than four (4) days prior to the hearing. Any person named in a grievance may submit a written statement to the committee outlining issues from their perspective.

All communications among the committee, the grievant(s) and person(s) named in the statement of grievance will be confidential. Every effort will be made by committee members to maintain confidentiality throughout the entire grievance process.


The Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs shall approve or reject the committee's recommendation(s) within twenty-eight (28) days after it is received, unless the Provost/Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs feels that more information is necessary, in which case the Dean may resubmit the case to the Committee for further findings prior to decision. If the decision of the Provost/Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs is not in accord with the committee's recommendation(s), he shall state the reasons for that decision, in writing, to all persons directly involved in the grievance to the committee. The Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs shall then take appropriate action to implement the decision.


The Committee, within twenty-one (21) days after the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs' decision, may be petitioned by the grievant(s) or respondent(s) to reconsider its decision based upon evidence clearly not available at the original hearing. Such a rehearing is discretionary and shall be made only upon majority vote of the members of the hearing committee.

Grievances Involving Grades

If the grievance concerns an appeal of a grade, the following additional provisions shall apply:

The Committee shall not substitute its judgment for that of the instructor concerning the substantive quality of the student's academic performance.

Appeal of Grievance Decision

A written appeal beyond the campus may be made to the Board of Regents through the Chancellor.

Following the Grievance Procedure

A student complaint that originates with a written complaint and concludes with the communication of the decision of the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs is provided to demonstrate compliance with the complaint policy and procedure.


      Savannah State University Website – Sexual Harassment Policy

      Savannah State University Student Handbook – Sexual Harassment Policy

      Savannah State University Catalog – Student Grievance Policy

      Savannah State University Website – Student Complaint Form

      Savannah State University Handbook – Right of the Accused During Hearings

      Savannah State University Handbook  – Student Ethics Board

      Savannah State University Student Handbook – Student Rights and Responsibilities

      Savannah State University Student Handbook – Judicial Procedures

      Savannah State University Website – Student Grievance Policy

      Savannah State University Website – University Grievance/Complaint Form (electronic)

      Savannah State University – Academic Appeals Guidelines

      Student Grievance Process and Procedure Compliance