3.1.11 Informal Course‐related Student Complaints

In general, it is UD policy that faculty members be apprised as promptly as feasible of informal course-related complaints that students have made to department chairs or program directors in face-to-face or in written, signed statements, whenever the chair/director judges the complaint substantial enough to warrant action. A chair or director shall not negatively sanction a professor on the basis of such complaints unless the chair/director has notified the faculty member about the complaints in a timely fashion as described below.

When the chair/director receives a face-to-face or written and signed complaint about an ongoing course (e.g., a complaint about inappropriate course requirements, about faculty in-class behavior, etc.), the chair/director should encourage direct communication between the student and the faculty member. If this does not prove feasible due to student reluctance, it is the responsibility of the chair/director to notify the faculty member promptly concerning any complaint that the chair/director considers substantial enough to warrant corrective action.

The general guideline for the chair/director is to honor a student's desire for confidentiality, but to notify the professor of the problem as soon as is feasible within this constraint, so that the professor can take action. (Many such complaints can be readily communicated to the professor without revealing particular student identities.) For a complaint that is well-grounded, this obligation of prompt notice should facilitate the faculty members's attending to the problem while the course is still running, whenever feasible.

Faculty members are entitled to elemental due process: No professor should be negatively sanctioned by a chair/director on the basis of an unwritten student complaint about the professor's course concerning which the professor has not been notified and given an opportunity to be heard. The professor must be given an opportunity to confront the accusation so that the chair/director can judge fairly whether the complaint has any foundation.

If the complaint is about personal mistreatment of an individual student, see "Grade Grievance and Other Related Academic Complaints" in the Student Guide to University Policies.

(Policy added 12/7/98; corrected 2/17/99)