The University encourages open and honest communication between members of the community. Most conflicts and differences of opinion between members of the University community can be resolved by the individuals directly confronting issues and jointly exploring alternatives. In addition, there are a variety of resources available to individuals who may be called upon to assist in informal conflict resolution. These are, in the case of students and faculty: the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, and the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School, and, in the case of staff: a supervisor or department head, the human resources representative, and the Employee Assistance Program counselor. Additional confidential campus resources include: the SHARE director for matters relating to sexual misconduct, the Office of Religious Life chaplains, the University Health Services Counseling Center, and the University ombudsperson. All members of the community also can contact the director for institutional equity and EEO or the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator to discuss options relating to harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct. (For information regarding the alternate resolution process for matters falling under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy or the University Sexual Misconduct policy, see ttps://inclusive.princeton.edu/addressing-concerns/policies/title-ix-sexual-harassment-policy Appendices B of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and University Sexual Misconduct policy.
In cases where conflicts cannot be mutually resolved, the University has established formal complaint procedures. For further information, students should consult the orange pages (sections 2.5 and 2.6.7). Faculty, administrators, and staff should consult their applicable policy manuals.
The University expressly prohibits retaliatory action against any member of the University community who in good faith: (1) files a report, complaint, or grievance under University policy (or with an external entity); (2) opposes in a reasonable manner an action believed to constitute a violation of University policy; (3) participates in University investigations, compliance reviews, or discipline proceedings; or (4) files a request for an accommodation under a University policy. (For purposes of this policy, "retaliatory action" is defined as intimidation, threat, coercion, discrimination, or adverse educational or employment action; acts of politeness and the like typically do not qualify.)
Depending on the circumstances referenced above, retaliatory acts may include (but are not limited to): adverse employment action; adverse action relating to participation in an educational program; unreasonably interfering with the academic or professional career of another individual; engaging in conduct which constitutes stalking, harassment, or assault; engaging in efforts to have others engage in retaliatory actions on one’s behalf.
An undergraduate student with a grievance should first bring it to the attention of the faculty member(s) involved. If the grievance cannot be resolved in this way, the student should discuss the matter with the chair of the relevant department. If the student feels that a satisfactory resolution has not been found, the student may present the grievance to the dean of the college. The dean of the college resolves all aspects of the complaint unless the dean determines that the grievance raises issues of faculty misconduct, in which case the dean should refer those portions of the complaint to the dean of the faculty. The dean of the faculty renders a decision about issues of faculty misconduct and may choose to appoint a special committee of faculty to advise with regard to resolution of those issues. (A graduate student with a grievance should consult the procedures under section 2.6.7.)
A student who believes their course grade was assigned in error or in a manner not consistent with the stated grading rubric of the course should begin by talking to the course instructor. If the matter is not resolved, the next step would be to talk to the chair of the department (or director of undergraduate studies) or the director of the program in which the course is offered. If the student wishes to pursue a further appeal, the situation may be reported to the dean of the college. In exceptional cases, where these conversations have not yielded a satisfactory understanding, a formal appeal may be presented to the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing. The Committee will judge grade disputes only on the fairness or consistency of the instructor’s grading process and will not make an independent assessment of the quality of the student’s course work. A grade change can be requested by a course instructor to correct a computational grading error.
An action of a faculty committee that affects a student’s academic standing may be appealed on procedural grounds. Review and final determination of an appeal is assigned to the Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy. A student who decides to appeal a decision on procedural grounds must promptly notify the dean of the faculty in writing. A student may continue to attend classes and use other University facilities while a rehearing or appeal is being considered. However, during the appeal period the student is not considered to be a student in good standing.
In some instances, an alleged infringement upon the rights or sensibilities of an individual can be discussed among the involved parties. If this is not appropriate or advisable or does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, the matter should be immediately brought to the attention of the dean or an associate dean of undergraduate students or the dean or an associate dean of the Graduate School. If the matter is not resolved through discussion or through formal action by a dean, a complaint can be made in accordance with the normal disciplinary procedures (see section 2.5, or, in cases of alleged infringement by graduate students, see section 2.6.7).
If the matter involves alleged discrimination or harassment and is not resolved informally, then the vice provost for institutional equity and diversity in the Office of the Provost will conduct an initial assessment of the information provided in the complaint to consider whether the alleged conduct, if substantiated by a preponderance of the evidence, could constitute prohibited conduct under the University’s Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment. If so, the vice provost for institutional equity and diversity will determine that the complaint may proceed to investigation. Complaints against undergraduate students only or graduate students only would be referred to the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students or the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School, respectively, for investigation and possible adjudication in accordance with the normal disciplinary processes. (Individuals may elect to submit a complaint utilizing the University’s complaint form, which may be accessed at https://inclusive.princeton.edu/addressing-concerns/file-a-report.) For additional information regarding the student disciplinary process, including appeal procedures, see section 2.5, or, in cases of alleged infringement by graduate students, see section 2.6.7.
If a grievance cannot be resolved directly with the leadership of the student organization, a grievance may be brought to the attention of a dean in the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students. The dean may seek advice from the University Student Life Committee in resolving the matter.
In some instances, an individual who has any concern about, or complaint against, a member of the faculty, staff, or administration regarding nonacademic matters can discuss the concern or complaint with the individual involved. If this is not appropriate or advisable, or does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, the person should immediately, in the case of a faculty member, appeal to the department chair and, in the case of a member of the University staff or administration, to the appropriate manager or head of the office. Further appeal, if necessary, may then be made to the Office of the Dean of the Faculty for matters pertaining to faculty, professional library staff, and professional research and technical staff, or to the Office of Human Resources for all other staffs. All complaints will be investigated promptly.
If the matter is such that a direct discussion of it with the individual involved and/or with the department chair or office head does not seem appropriate (because, for example, the concern or complaint is of a personal or private nature), an initial discussion may be sought directly with the Office of the Dean of the Faculty or the Office of Human Resources, as appropriate.
Concerns or complaints about nonacademic matters can often be resolved on an informal basis. Whenever an individual wishes to make a formal complaint, however, that individual should review the appropriate staff rules or handbook and then contact the Office of the Dean of the Faculty or the Office of Human Resources to implement the formal review process. Complaints involving possible noncompliance with University policies, laws, or government regulations; errors or irregularities in University financial accounting practices; or unethical behavior may also be reported anonymously to the University’s Hotline, EthicsPoint, an independent provider which may be accessed at https://oac.princeton.edu/compliance/hotline.
In cases of alleged discrimination or harassment, the individual may wish to first discuss the problem, in confidence, with the University ombudsperson or other confidential campus resource. (A full list of campus resources in this context may be accessed at https://inclusive.princeton.edu/addressing-concerns/step-step-process.)
In cases of alleged infringement of the University’s policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment by members of the faculty or staff, complaints may be made to the director for institutional equity and EEO in the Office of the Provost. (Individuals may elect to submit a complaint utilizing the University’s complaint form, which may be accessed at https://inclusive.princeton.edu/addressing-concerns/file-a-report.) The vice provost for institutional equity and diversity in the Office of the Provost will conduct an initial assessment of the information provided in the complaint to consider whether the alleged conduct, if substantiated by a preponderance of the evidence, could constitute prohibited conduct under the University’s Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment. If so, the vice provost for institutional equity and diversity will determine that the complaint may proceed to investigation.
(The full text of this policy, including investigation and appeal procedures, may be accessed at https://inclusive.princeton.edu/addressing-concerns/policies/policy-discrimination-andor-harassment.)