45. Discrimination (Revised: 2005)
The decision as to which procedure to utilize for a grievance filed by a student shall be made solely by the university and shall be based on the fact pattern of each particular case. Each grievance shall be directed to a specific procedure and shall be accorded only one opportunity to be adjudicated unless the appeal body remands for further review.
This process is designed to respond
to allegations involving discriminatory action against a student by an employee
of the university system.
Texas A&M University, in
accordance with applicable federal and state law, prohibits discrimination,
including harassment, on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin,
religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, or veteran status. (These
categories will hereafter be referred to as groups.)
There are a number of processes
defined within the Student Rules which are designed to respond to allegations of
discrimination and/or harassment. Each
of these is described below.
Rule 46. Disability Accommodations in Academic Programs, should be utilized to respond to grievances regarding disability accommodations in academic programs.
Rule 47. Sexual Harassment, should be utilized to respond to allegations regarding sexual harassment when the alleged offender is an employee of the university system.
Rule 24.3.4 Harassment and its subsections apply when there are allegations of harassment and the alleged offender is a student of the university.
The procedures outlined in 45.1 and
45.2 below should be followed when a student alleges that he or she has been
subjected to an act, practice, rule or procedure that involves discrimination
against the student by an employee of the university system.
There are four components that must be present to establish
discrimination. The student: 1)
must be a member of one of the groups described in the second paragraph above;
2) must have suffered a significant adverse consequence;
3) must show that he/she was treated differently than other students who are
not members of the complaining studentís group; and 4) must demonstrate no
legitimate nondiscriminatory reason exists for the allegedly unequal treatment
complained of (or, the employeeís stated reason was a sham to conceal
45.1 Informal Grievance Procedures
Students believing that they have
been subjected to discrimination as described above may use one or more of the
following informal procedures to resolve their grievance:
45.1.1 The student may seek a resolution of the matter through discussions with the alleged offender (hereafter known as respondent). Before following this procedure, however, students may choose to seek advice about how best to approach this individual. Students are encouraged to seek assistance from the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services.
45.1.2 If no resolution is forthcoming or if direct confrontation is deemed inappropriate by both parties, the student may report the incident or incidents to the respondentís immediate or general supervisor. The supervisor should attempt to resolve the grievance and will maintain the studentís confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
45.1.3 The student may report the incident or incidents to the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services and request assistance in attempting to reach an informal resolution of the matter. The Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services may then contact the respondentís immediate or general supervisor, who should attempt to resolve the grievance and will maintain the studentís confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
Under these informal procedures, the student may, at any time, elect to withdraw the grievance which may or may not stop further administrative action. The student may also at any time decide to file a formal grievance according to the procedures outlined below.
45.2 Formal Grievance Procedures
Assistance with these procedures may
be provided by the Office of the
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services (Refer to Rule 24, Student Conduct Code, if the grievance
concerns student harassment of another student, faculty or staff member).
45.2.1 A student who feels that he or she has been subjected to discrimination as described above, may file a written grievance to the administrative head of the college, department, or office in which the alleged discrimination took place.
The grievance should normally be filed within 20 working days of the incident or incidents. It is advisable, and to the studentís advantage, to file the grievance as soon as possible to insure that a complete, accurate fact pattern is captured in a timely manner and in close proximity to the time in which the alleged discrimination occurred.
As part of the written grievance, the student should also articulate a desired outcome or remedy to be considered in the event that discrimination is found to have occurred.
45.2.2 The administrative head will investigate and attempt to resolve the grievance using the following steps:
- Review the grievance.
- Meet with the student to review the grievance and to gain additional insight.
- Gather any additional pertinent information that is needed.
- Share the grievance and any additional pertinent information with the respondent.
- Provide respondent an opportunity to respond and to provide any additional information.
- Give the student the opportunity to reply to any response provided by the respondent.
- Consult with the Office of General Counsel regarding applicable rules and legal requirements, as appropriate.
- Determine and document the findings of fact, including those agreed upon and those disputed.
- Attempt a resolution of the grievance between the student and the respondent, if appropriate.
- Determine final decision regarding the grievance. The final decision shall be one of three outcomes: discrimination occurred; discrimination did not occur; there is insufficient evidence to determine whether or not discrimination occurred.
45.2.3 The administrative head shall complete the investigation and produce a written report describing the actions taken in accordance with the steps outlined in 45.2.2 within 10 working days of the receipt of the grievance. If additional time is needed to complete the investigation and write the report, the reasons shall be documented and included in the report. If the report concludes that discrimination occurred, a description of the remedy provided to the student shall be included in the report. The administrative head shall provide a copy of the report to the student, the respondent, and the direct supervisor of the administrative head.
45.2.4 In the event discrimination is found to have occurred, the administrative head shall take disciplinary and/or additional action as deemed appropriate under system policies and university rules.
45.2.5 To appeal the decision of the administrative head, the student must file a written statement of appeal with the Discrimination Appeals Panel within 10 working days of the receipt of the written decision from the administrative head. The appeal shall be delivered to the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services and will be forwarded to the chair of the Discrimination Appeals Panel. The appeal shall clearly identify a basis of appeal and provide a clear rationale for appealing. There are only two acceptable bases of appeal: 1) the administrative headís conclusion of no discrimination is not reasonable (a lack of reasonableness is defined as no reasonable administrative head, based on the evidence presented, could decide discrimination did not occur); and 2) the remedy to the student, in cases where discrimination occurred, is insufficient.
45.2.6 The Discrimination Appeals Panel shall meet and review the original grievance filed by the student, the final report written by the administrative head, any supporting documentation contained with the original grievance and/or with the final report, and the appeal written by the student. The outcome of the review shall be one of three courses of action:
∑ Uphold the decision of the administrative head
∑ Reverse the decision of the administrative head and issue a new conclusion and/or remedy
∑ Remand the case back to the administrative head with instructions for further review
The date for the review of the file shall be the earliest available time at which all panelists are available. The decision of the Discrimination Appeals Panel shall be final.
If it is determined that a grievance
filed under this rule was groundless (no factual basis to believe discrimination
occurred) or in bad faith (claim was motivated by a malicious purpose), the
student may be subject to disciplinary action.