The Student Complaint Reporting policy is designed to help assure our students a quality education, provide excellent student support services, and help the College identify any serious or systemic problems or issues affecting the quality of student life.
This policy establishes a formal process to support student to have their complaints and concerns heard in an unbiased, standardized, and measurable way that includes three steps:
- Informal Resolution
- Formal Complaint, Investigation, and Resolution
Any student who believes they have been harmed by the interpretation, application or violation of College policies and/or procedures may file a complaint. Staff of the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs will monitor timing of responses, activity, and prepare reports on activity and any trends in student formal complaints.
Formal Student Complaint Process
When a student encounters a problem on campus that he/she does not know how to resolve, he/she should always try to work the problem out by first discussing it with those involved. Dealing with concerns in the most direct and honest fashion should always be the first step toward resolution. Many problems are resolved when a student makes an appointment with a faculty or staff member and calmly and honestly communicates their concerns.
A formal complaint is a request for the resolution of a problem, conflict, concern, or issue that negatively impacts a student(s). Student formal complaints may include (but are not limited to) issues regarding College policies, procedures, services, offices, and staff/faculty behavior and discrimination on the basis of marital status, race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, disability and Veteran status. Formal complaints should be filed using BCC’s online complaint form.
Complaints that pertain to incidents that involve discrimination on the basis of gender and gender identity, including sexual harassment/sexual assault and rape, are addressed under BCC’s Title IX policy and procedures and are handled separately from the processes described herein. Students who wish to report a Title IX related incident must contact BCC’s Title IX Coordinator in the BCC Human Resources Office or utilize BCC’s online reporting form. More information about Title IX is available at https://bergen.edu/about-us/title-ix/.
- Formal complaints involving grades where the final course grade is disputed and/or the student believes that the final grade is not indicative of the student’s academic performance are addressed by the Grade Change Policy and are handled separately from the processes described below. For Academic Affairs and Grade Appeals, please complete the Academic affairs Complaint & Grade Appeal Request Form
- Formal complaints regarding Code of Conduct violations are addressed by the student conduct process which is described in detail in the Conduct Policy and are handled separately from the processes described below.
- Academic Integrity, Tuition Refund appeals, and E to W appeals are addressed through their own specific processes.
- For more information on College Policies, please refer to the College Catalog and the Student Code of Conduct.
Anonymous formal complaints are not accepted since doing so may limit the College’s ability to investigate and respond to the formal complaint.
Information concerning the nature, scope, evaluation and resolution of formal complaints shall be confidential to the greatest extent possible and will be shared only with those persons who need to know.
Bergen Community College encourages resolution of formal complaints in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Any form of retaliation for bringing forward a formal complaint will not be tolerated; students who retaliate against anyone related to a formal complaint or the formal complaint process will be subject to sanction via the Student Code of Conduct. The formal complaint process applies to all students and should be followed in all cases when informal resolution is not sufficient to resolve the issue.
The steps in the formal complaint process are:
- Informal Resolution
- Formal Complaint
Students must complete each step in the process before proceeding to the next step.
Assistance for students in understanding and navigating the formal complaint process is available from the staff of the Office of Student Life. Contact information for the Office of Student Life is available on the Bergen Community College Website.
Prompt reporting of all formal complaints is critical and necessary as it is often difficult to trace the facts of an incident or incidents long after they have occurred. Students are advised that a formal complaint will be most effectively addressed if the formal complaint is brought forward within sixty
(60) College business days of the alleged incident.
Step 1. Informal Resolution
Students must attempt to resolve any concern through a discussion with the Bergen Community College employee who is most directly connected with the issue, behavior, procedure or service. In the case of a concern related to the delivery of service, the informal step requires discussion with the individual who delivers that service (e.g., faculty member, staff member, etc.). Should the student be unable to resolve the issue/concern informally, they may choose to file a formal complaint.
Step 2: Filing a formal complaint
Formal complaints must be filed using BCC’s online complaint form. Formal complaints will be forwarded to the appropriate administrator responsible for the individual, process, or department involved. Documentation of the formal complaint should include:
- A detailed description of the issue and any negative impact(s) that resulted.
- The date, time, and place of the event(s) pertaining to the formal complaint.
- The name and contact information for any witnesses with knowledge of the formal complaint or subject of the formal complaint.
- Specific details regarding the instance(s) of non-compliance with the policy or procedure applicable.
- The results of any previous discussion resulting from attempting an informal resolution.
- All appropriate evidence and documentation related to the complaint.
- A proposed resolution or action.
Following the formal complaint online form submission by a student, formal complaints are forwarded to the departmental leader governing the area for which the complaint is submitted. This may be a department director, a Dean, or other administrator. The departmental leader will conduct an impartial and thorough investigation of the incident and respond to the student in writing with findings and a resolution (if applicable) within 15 college business days. Responses are delivered via the student’s Bergen Community College email address.
Step 3: Appeal/Due Process
Should the student be dissatisfied with the resolution of the formal complaint by the departmental leader, he/she may appeal to the appropriate divisional Vice President (or designee). This appeal must be submitted in writing to the office of the divisional Vice President who is responsible for the area that pertains to the formal complaint within seven (7) College business days of the departmental leader’s notification to the student of the findings and resolution of the formal complaint. The resolution letter will contain directions to guide the student should they wish to pursue an appeal of the decision.
In the written appeal, the student must address the grounds for an appeal and provide support for any facts that relate to their point of view.
The divisional Vice President (or designee) will review all documentation of the incident, the formal complaint, and the resolution by the department leader and respond to the student in writing with findings and a decision within 15 business days.
Responses are delivered via the student’s Bergen Community College email address.
The formal complaint process ends with the response to the appeal from the divisional Vice President (or designee); no other opportunity for pursuing the complaint is available. Formal complaints that are duplicates of a previously addressed complaint will not be considered.
Student External Complaint Process
A student may file directly with relevant Accreditation, State, and Federal agencies that investigate discrimination/harassment charges in addition to utilizing this internal procedure.
General instructions for Filing a Complaint about an Institution of Higher Education can be found at https://www.state.nj.us/highereducation/OSHEComplaintInstructions.shtml
Notes: An external complaint must be filed directly with the agency.
Contact Information for Filing an External Complaint
Middle States Commission on Higher Education
1007 North Orange Street
4th Floor, MB #166
Wilmington, DE 19801
Division on Civil Rights
NJ Department of Law & Public Safety
Newark Regional Office
31 Clinton Street
P.O. Box 46001
Newark, NJ 07102
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
National Call Center 1-800-669-4000
Newark District Office
Newark, NJ 07102