- Informal Mediation
- Formal Mediation of a Grievance
- Convening a Bet Din to Arbitrate a Grievance
- Bet Din Procedures
- Special Situations
- Efficient Procedure
The RRC community is committed to settling conflicts amicably through direct conversation whenever possible. When a student has a conflict with anyone in the community, attempting to resolve it through direct dialogue should be the first course of action whenever that is feasible.
In the event that a student has a grievance1 against a member of the regular faculty, another instructor, an academic administrator, or a supervisory committee2 that cannot be resolved through direct, private conversation, he or she should act as follows:
2. Informal Mediation
The student should speak first with his or her faculty advisor, who will attempt to help the student determine the best way to proceed. If the grievance is against the faculty advisor, the student should speak to the director of student life instead.
Unless the student or the faculty advisor deems it inappropriate, the student and the faculty member should try to resolve the conflict in an informal face-to-face conversation with the help of the faculty advisor or another mutually acceptable mediator.
3. Formal Mediation of a Grievance
Should the conflict remain unresolved, the student should speak with the vice president for student development to begin a formal grievance procedure. The request for a formal grievance must state the nature of the grievance, describe the events on which it is based and bear the signature of the person who is filing the grievance. The vice president for student development will immediately notify all parties to the grievance and will invite them to submit a written account of their version of the events that led to the grievance. The vice president for student development will do fact-finding, which will include meeting with the parties. The vice president for student development will serve as mediator, talking with each party and trying to help the parties come to a resolution of the grievance. The vice president for student development will try to facilitate a resolution as quickly and privately as possible and should keep written records of the process. The vice president for student development will then also record the written resolution of the grievance and have it signed by the parties to the grievance. Copies of the written resolution will be provided to both parties and will be kept on file in the offices of the vice president for student development and the vice president for academic affairs.
4. Convening a Beyt Din to Arbitrate a Grievance
At any point, any of the three (the student, the faculty member or the vice president for student development) may initiate a beyt din proceeding. This may be because a resolution of the grievance has not been reached, because a resolution of the grievance has been breached, or because new issues between the parties have arisen that, in the opinion of any party or the vice president for student development, cannot be dealt with through the processes described in sections 1-3 above.
In the event that the vice president for student development or the vice president for academic affairs becomes aware that there is more than one student with a grievance about a similar issue or incident against the same faculty member, the vice president for academic affairs may at her or his discretion convene a single beyt din to address the grievances.
5. Beyt Din Procedures
A beyt din is initiated with a written request to the vice president for academic affairs. When such a request is made, a beyt din of three will be convened. It will be chaired by the vice president for academic affairs. The two parties will each select one of the remaining members of the regular faculty to serve on the beyt din and sign a form acknowledging that the decision of the beyt din cannot be appealed to RRC’s faculty, administration or board of governors.3 All documentation will be forwarded from the vice president for student development’s office to the vice president for academic affairs. The beyt din will review the written mediation materials; speak to the two parties and to the vice president for student development; and collect any additional data, including interviewing other people, which the beyt din deems appropriate.4
The members of the beyt din will keep the proceedings confidential, except as necessary for inquiries made as part of the proceedings. Any employee of the RRC who is consulted as part of the proceedings must keep such communication confidential.
The beyt din’s decision will begin with a statement about the propriety of the complaint and whether it is supported by evidence. It may also require rectification of past injury, education, counseling, requirements for future conduct and/or admonition, among other things. In addition, it can recommend disciplinary action. A copy of the beyt din report will be placed on file in the offices of the vice president for student development and of the vice president for academic affairs.
The beyt din may decide to place notice of the existence of the report in the file of any person whom it deems to be at fault.
The vice president for academic affairs is responsible for monitoring compliance with the decision of the beyt din. A faculty member’s failure or refusal to comply with the decision of the beyt din is malfeasance if it is not corrected after the faculty member has been warned; this would constitute grounds for further disciplinary action. In such a case, the vice president for academic affairs will use his/her discretion to determine whether further action requires that the beyt din be reconvened.
While the matter is pending, decisions about class attendance will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
6. Special Situations
In the event that there is a grievance with an RRC employee who is not on the faculty (e.g., non-academic administrators, other RRC staff), the student should speak with the vice president for student development, who will guide the student towards mediation and, if mediation fails, in determining the appropriate grievance procedure.5
If the grievance is against the vice president for student development, then the vice president for academic affairs mediates, and in the event of a beyt din procedure, the president appoints someone other than the vice president for academic affairs to chair the beyt din.
If the grievance is against the vice president for academic affairs, the president appoints both the mediator and the chair of the beyt din.
Such accusations would be handled under the Grievance Policy (Administrative Handbook Section X) or Harassment-Free Workplace Policy.
1 The grievance could include, but is not be limited to, the following examples: the instructor’s treatment of a student, the instructor’s reluctance to assist a student, and a faculty member or advisor’s violation of confidentiality. In the event that the student has a grievance about a course evaluation, she or he should follow the Appeal of Grades policy. In the event of sexual or other types of harassment, the student should follow the Harassment-Free Environment policy. Only academic and co-curricular grievances are covered under this procedure.