Student Grievance Process

Contact

Mike Taphouse
Dean of Students
mtaphouse@cgcc.edu, (541) 506-6026

Student Complaints

Students at the College may complain, whether verbally or in writing, regarding any area of academic or student life without fear of coercion, harassment, intimidation, or reprisal from the College or its employees. Students also may expect a timely response to any complaint.
Defamatory or baseless charges may cause a student to be held responsible for violations of College policies through the college conduct process.

Student concerns should be resolved as quickly as possible at the lowest possible College unit that has the authority to act. Because no single process can serve the wide range of possible complaints, the College provides specific processes for responding to certain kinds of student complaints. Where College policy provides a specific complaint or grievance procedure, an aggrieved student should use that procedure.

Examples of established procedures for specific types of student complaints include

  • Academic Integrity Issues
    • Academic Misconduct
  • Record-Related Issues
    • Academic Standing
    • Drop for Non-attendance (a.k.a. “No-Show”)
    • Financial Aid
    • Grade Appeals
    • Residency
    • Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Student Conduct Process
  • Title IX Issues
    • Discrimination
    • Sexual Harassment

General Complaint Procedures for Students

Students may use the following procedures to formally question the application of any College regulation, rule, policy, requirement, or procedure not otherwise covered by a more specific policy or procedure.

  • Step One: The student should meet with the College decision-maker concerned to discuss the complaint and to attempt to arrive at a solution. This meeting should occur no later than 10 business days after the action which resulted in the complaint. Note: You may contact Student Services for assistance in determining the appropriate decision-maker.
  • Step Two: If the student’s complaint is not resolved at Step One, the student must, within 10 business days of the Step One meeting, submit a written complaint to the next level in the College’s administrative structure (department chair, director or her/his designee in the administrative unit within which the complaint originated). The complaint must be signed and dated by the student, or sent from an official CGCC student email account. The name and title of the person to whom the request should be addressed can be obtained from the employee in Step One.
    If the student’s issue cannot be resolved by the Step Two administrator by telephone call or email correspondence, the supervisor shall make a reasonable effort to arrange for a meeting with the student and the employee within 10 business days from the date that the request is received. If this timeframe cannot be met, the Step Two administrator will notify all parties in writing and determine a mutually agreeable time. The meeting should be informal, with a candid discussion of the problem in an attempt to find a solution. The Step Two administrator may give an oral decision at the close of the meeting, or he or she may choose to take the matter under advisement. Typically, the Step Two administrator will render a final decision within 10 business days, informing all parties of the decision.
  • Step Three: If the student wishes to appeal the Step Two decision, he or she may appeal to the next level supervisor in the administrative structure of the College within 10 business days from the date of the Step Two written decision. The student may obtain from the employee in Step One or Step Two the name and title of the person to whom the request should be addressed.
    The appeal must be in writing, signed and dated, or sent from an official CGCC student email account. Upon receiving this written appeal, the Step Three administrator will review all information concerning the complaint and appeal and render a written decision within 10 business days from the date of receipt of the appeal. The Step Three administrator’s decision is final.
    In all cases, if the final decision requires any change to an official record of the College, the College employee must comply with all College regulations and procedures necessary to accomplish the change.

Fourth Amendment Right

Students at Columbia Gorge Community College have the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, CGCC reserves the right to conduct reasonable searches of a student, her/his personal property or vehicle and any locker or other depository on College premises when there is reasonable suspicion that the search will lead to the discovery of:  (i) evidence of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct or other applicable College policy; (ii) evidence of illegal activity on campus or in conjunction with any College activity; or (iii) any object or thing which presents an immediate danger to the well-being of persons or property. In addition, students as well as others may be subject to metal detection equipment at College events and activities.

Participation in Student Organizations

Students at Columbia Gorge Community College have the right to participate in student organizations and conduct social affairs.
The activities of student organizations operate under policies established by the Student Life Center. Responsibility for the conduct of such activities rests with the sponsoring organization. All organizations are required to adhere to policies and standards of conduct prescribed herein by the College.

Reporting of Discrimination, Harassment and Misconduct Involving Students

In order to enable CGCC to respond effectively and to stop instances of discrimination, harassment, and misconduct involving students or employees at CGCC proactively, all community members (as appropriate) should report information they have about reported discrimination, harassment, and misconduct involving students to the Title IX Coordinator in as timely a manner as possible.

Make reports to titleIX@cgcc.edu, contact Student Services at (541) 506-6011, or speak with any trusted CGCC employee.

To most effectively respond to and address instances, information provided should include all relevant details needed to determine what occurred and to resolve the situation.  This includes the names of the respondent (if known), the reporting party, other students involved in the incident, as well as relevant facts, including the date, time, and location.

Process of Responding to Reports

Upon receiving a report of alleged or possible discrimination, harassment, or misconduct, CGCC will evaluate the information received and determine what further actions should be taken.  CGCC will follow the procedures described in the CGCC Title IX Investigation and Resolution Procedure, see below.  CGCC will take steps, either directly with the reporting party or through a reporting employee, to provide information about the CGCC Title IX Investigation and Resolution Procedure, as well as available health and advocacy resources and options for criminal reporting.

External Complaints

If you are a student/employee and filed a complaint with the Title IX Coordinator or a designee and believe the response was inadequate, or as a student, you otherwise believe you have been discriminated against by CGCC on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, including sexual harassment, disability, age, or retaliation, you may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education based in Seattle or the Educational Opportunities Section (EOS) of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. You may file a complaint based on religion with EOS of the U.S. Justice Department.

U.S. Department of Education
Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
810 3rd Avenue #750
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 607-1600
OCR.Seattle@ed.gov
Educational
Opportunities Section
(202) 514-4092
1 (877) 292-3804 (toll-free)
(202) 514-8337 (fax)
education@usdoj.gov

 

CGCC Discrimination Investigation and Resolution Guidelines

Initial Review

In any situation where Columbia Gorge Community College receives notice of alleged policy violation associated with the Respectful Community Policy or identifies possible violations, steps will be taken to investigate and address as appropriate. If a Reporting Party makes CGCC aware of a perceived violation of the Respectful Community Policy, there are two avenues for resolution: formal and informal resolution process. The Reporting Party has the option to proceed informally, when permissible. In cases involving allegations of sexual assault, informal resolution process is not appropriate, even if both the Reporting Party and Respondent indicate a preference for informal resolution process. The Title IX Coordinator or a designee is available to explain the informal and formal resolution processes. Contact the Title IX Coordinator via email, titleIX@cgcc.edu, or by phone, (541) 506-6010.

Time Frame for Reporting

CGCC encourages prompt reporting but does not limit the timeframe for filing a report. Complaints can be submitted at any time following an incident. To most effectively respond to and address reports, information provided should include all relevant details needed to determine what occurred and to resolve the situation.

Time Frames for Resolution

The College seeks to resolve all reports of discrimination, harassment, or misconduct within sixty (60) business days, if not sooner. It should be noted, however, that all time frames expressed in this procedure are meant to be guidelines rather than rigid requirements. Circumstances may arise that require the extension of time frames, including extension beyond sixty (60) business days. Such circumstances may include the complexity of the allegations, the number of witnesses involved, the availability of the parties or witnesses, the effect of a concurrent criminal investigation, any intervening school break or vacation, or other unforeseen circumstances.

In general, a Reporting Party and Respondent can expect that the process will proceed according to the time frames provided in this procedure. In the event that the investigation and resolution exceed this time frame, the College will notify all parties of the reason for the delay and the expected adjustment in time frames. Best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner by balancing principles of thoroughness and fundamental fairness with promptness.

Procedural Delays for Concurrent Investigations

At the request of law enforcement, the College may agree to temporarily delay its fact-gathering until after the evidence gathering stages of a criminal investigation. The College will nevertheless communicate with the Reporting Party regarding their rights, procedural options, and the implementation of interim measures to ensure safety and well-being. The College will promptly resume and complete its fact-gathering as soon as law enforcement has completed its evidence gathering stage of a criminal investigation.

Title IX Informal Process

If the Reporting Party, the Respondent, and the Title IX Coordinator or a designee all agree that an informal resolution should be pursued, the Title IX Coordinator or a designee shall attempt to facilitate a resolution of the conflict that is agreeable to all parties. Under the informal process the Title IX Coordinator or a designee shall be required only to conduct such fact-finding as is useful to resolve the conflict and as is necessary to protect the interests of the parties, CGCC and the community. Typically, the informal resolution process will be completed within twenty (20) business days, if not sooner, of receipt of the complaint. If it becomes necessary to extend the process, both parties will be notified of a revised expected resolution timeframe.

A Reporting Party or Respondent always has the option to request moving to the formal resolution process. The Title IX Coordinator also always has the discretion to initiate the formal resolution process. If at any point during the informal process, the Reporting Party, the Respondent, or the Title IX Coordinator or a designee wishes to cease the informal process and to proceed through formal grievance procedures, the formal process outlined below will be invoked.

The informal resolution must adequately address the concerns of the Complainant, as well as the rights of the Respondent, and the overall intent of CGCC to stop, remedy and prevent policy violations associated with the Respectful Community Policy. (Informal actions might include, but are not limited to providing training to a work unit; having an informal discussion with an individual whose conduct, if not stopped, could rise to the level of discrimination or hostile environment harassment; having a confidential conversation with a supervisor or instructor; or suspension if both parties agree).

Title IX Formal Process

The Reporting Party and the Respondent may each have a support person present at all interviews in which they participate. Individuals acting as a support person will not be allowed to participate during the interview and are present as an observer only. This procedure is not a legal proceeding and as such the Reporting Party and Respondent cannot be represented by another individual.

Resolution

Dissemination of Findings to Disciplinary Authority

The written finding will be provided to the appropriate Disciplinary Authority to determine the appropriate individual sanctions in collaboration with the Title IX Coordinator or designee. In the case of employees, the Disciplinary Authority is the CGCC Administrator with the authority to impose sanctions in accordance with applicable employment policies and procedures. The Title IX Coordinator or a designee will inform the Reporting Party of the sanctions as permitted by applicable Title IX and privacy laws and document the final results in the case file.

Privacy

The Title IX Coordinator or designee attempts to balance the needs of the parties for privacy with the responsibility of ensuring a safe educational environment and workplace. Privacy is an aspiration, but is not always possible or appropriate. An individual's requests regarding the confidentiality of reports of discrimination or sexual misconduct will be considered in determining an appropriate response; however, such requests will be considered in the dual contexts of CGCC’s legal obligation to ensure a working and learning environment that is free from discrimination or sexual misconduct and the due process rights of the accused to be informed of the allegations and their source. Some level of disclosure may be necessary to ensure a complete and fair investigation.

There are confidential resources available on campus.  For more information regarding confidential reporting resources please refer to the CGCC Title IX webpage:  www.cgcc.edu/student-right/title-ix.

Request for No Investigation

If a reporter or victim requests that an investigation not be conducted, the Title IX Coordinator or a designee will consider the reasons for the request, including concerns about continued safety of the person reportedly harmed and members of the campus community. The determination not to investigate must also balance considerations about the continued health and safety of members of the community against a reporter’s or victim’s desire not to have the report investigated.

In cases when a reporter or victim does not want to have a report investigated, but the Title IX Coordinator or a designee has concerns that not taking formal or informal action will endanger the health or safety of members of the campus community, the Title IX Coordinator or a designee will initiate confidential consultation with appropriate individuals to analyze the situation and assist in determining appropriate measures to take. Consultation may occur with College leadership and/or legal counsel. The Title IX Coordinator will make the ultimate decision about whether to conduct a formal investigation or respond to the report in another manner. Remedial assistance will be provided with or without a formal investigation.

Appeals

A request for an appeal of the investigative finding may be filed by either the Reporting Party or Respondent and must be filed with the Title IX Coordinator or a designee within five (5) working days of the receipt of the final report decision, unless good cause can be shown for an extension of time. The request must be in writing and must describe the appellant’s desired outcome, as well as describe how the appellant believes that

Disagreement with the findings or recommended sanctions is not, by itself, grounds for appeal.

The Chief Student Services Officer, or designee with appropriate training, will review appeals along with the final investigation finding report and determine if the grounds for appeal have been met. The corresponding Respondent or Reporting Party will be notified as to the request. The Chief Student Services Officer will determine if the findings and recommendation should be approved, overturned, or modified. If an appeal causes a significant delay, the Title IX Coordinator will maintain interim measures currently in place and consider additional measures to continue to protect the parties during the process.

The Title IX Coordinator or a designee will inform the parties of the final determination related to the appeal as permitted by applicable Title IX and privacy laws and document the appeal in the case file. This appeals decision is final for all parties involved in the investigation.

Interim Safety Measures

The College may recommend immediate implementation of additional steps to provide for the safety of the complainant or others, to avoid possible retaliation, or to prevent further occurrence. These steps may include, but are not limited to, changes in class schedules, interim suspensions, no contact orders, no trespass orders, counseling, victim resources, and health or disability services.

Amnesty for Complainants and Witnesses

The College encourages reporting of egregious behaviors, including but not limited to sexual misconduct, and seeks to remove any barriers to an individual or group making a report. The College recognizes that an individual who has been drinking or using drugs at the time of an incident may be hesitant to make a report because of potential consequences for his/her own conduct. Therefore, amnesty for complainants and witnesses is being provided.

Any reporting individual or group, either as a Complainant or a witness, will not be subject to institutional disciplinary action for their own personal consumption of alcohol or drugs at or near the time of the incident, provided that any such violations did not and do not place the health or safety of any other person at risk.

The College may, however, initiate an educational discussion or pursue other educational interventions regarding alcohol or other drugs. These interventions will not include involuntary absences from the College.

Amnesty does not preclude or prevent action by police or other legal authorities.

Retaliation

CGCC recognizes the right of students and employees to use the grievance procedure without fear or concern for retaliation. Retaliation occurs when an adverse action is taken against an individual for engaging in protected activity. Adverse actions that are reasonably likely to deter a complaining individual or others from engaging in protected activity are prohibited by the College. Protected activity consists of

Retaliation in any manner against an individual for filing a charge, initiating a report or complaint, or participating in an investigation is expressly prohibited and subject to appropriate remedy or sanction. Reasonable steps will be taken to protect the Reporting Party, Respondent, and other potential participants from further unlawful retaliation.

  • Step 1: Title IX Coordinator or a designee discusses concerns with Reporting Party, and the Respondent as appropriate, including providing information about policy, procedures and other helpful resources.
    The Title IX Coordinator or a designee also considers whether immediate or interim actions or involvement of other CGCC departments is appropriate. The Title IX Coordinator or a designee determines whether their group has jurisdiction to investigate the matter. The Title IX Coordinator or a designee only has jurisdiction to investigate complaints or behavior related to discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, and retaliation as associated with the Respectful Community Policy.
    • Option 1: If the Title IX Coordinator or a designee determines that there is no jurisdiction, assistance will be offered to the Reporting Party and, as appropriate, the Respondent, in finding appropriate campus and off-campus resources for addressing the issue of concern.
    • Option 2: If the Title IX Coordinator or a designee determines that there is jurisdiction, the case will proceed to Step 2.
  • Step 2: Title IX Coordinator or a designee conducts or oversees the conducting of a thorough, fair, and reliable investigation of the alleged conduct. Typically, an investigation will be completed within thirty (30) business days, if not sooner, of receipt of the complaint. If it becomes necessary to extend the process, both parties will be notified of a revised expected resolution timeframe. Respondents will have the opportunity to review and respond to evidence considered against them. Both parties will have the opportunity to review and provide comments to the investigator about the written investigation report before it is finalized.
    • The Title IX Coordinator or a designee determines whether there is a preponderance of the evidence to believe that an individual engaged in a policy violation.  This “preponderance of the evidence” standard requires that the evidence supporting each finding be more convincing than the evidence in opposition to it.
    • In making the determination of whether harassment has created a hostile environment, the conduct must not only be unwelcome to the Reporting Party, but also severe, persistent or pervasive, that a reasonable person in the Reporting Party’s situation would have perceived the conduct as unwelcome, and the discrimination resulting from the hostile environment created a limitation or denial of opportunities, benefits, or activities. The case findings will be in writing and will be provided to both the Reporting Party and to the Respondent(s). 
      There are two most likely findings for Title IX investigations: Preponderance of Evidence Found or Preponderance of Evidence Not Found.  Resolutions in those cases are described below.
      • Option 1 - Preponderance of Evidence Not Found
        If the Title IX Coordinator or a designee finds a preponderance of the evidence of a policy violation does not exist, the matter is documented and closed.
      • Option 2 - Preponderance of Evidence Found
        If the Title IX Coordinator or a designee finds that a preponderance of the evidence of a policy violation exists, the case’s written report will include recommendations for steps to take to prevent recurrence of any such violation, and as appropriate, sanctions for the Responding Party.
    • Previously unavailable relevant evidence becomes available that would affect the outcome of the case and/or
    • Those investigating
      • failed to conduct a thorough investigation
      • issued arbitrary findings and recommendations or
      • had a conflict of interest.
    • Opposing conduct reasonably believed to constitute discrimination, including harassment, that violates college policy or state or federal statutes
    • Filing a complaint about such practice
    • Seeking an accommodation under this policy or
    • Testifying, assisting, or participating in any manner in an investigation or other proceeding related to a discrimination complaint