University Student Handbook

Student Complaints

Northwestern provides a complaint process to allow students to challenge certain actions related to their educational experience at Northwestern. Any student who believes that another student or an employee of the University has subjected him/her to treatment that violates written university policy may seek to have his/her complaint addressed.

Complaints involving the arbitrary or capricious assignment of grades must be handled through the Grade Appeal Policy.

Certain actions are not covered by this complaint process such as allegations of harassment or discrimination.  For those types of complaints, students should refer to the University's Harassment Policy and Non-Discrimination Policy.

Complaint and Grievances Policy


POLICY:  Complaints and Grievances

Effective / Revision Date:  Fall 2018


Northwestern Health Sciences University encourages regular and open communication among students, staff, and faculty. This policy provides a process for Northwestern Health Sciences University students to raise concerns regarding the application and administration of Northwestern Health Sciences University rules, procedures or regulations and if a concern is not resolved to a student’s satisfaction, to pursue a formal grievance.


This policy and procedure is not a substitute for the Student Code of Conduct, the Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy or Grade Appeals Policy. Complaints involving the arbitrary or capricious assignment of grades must be handled through the Grade Appeal Policy. 


Appeal:  A request for reconsideration of a grievance decision.

Complaint:  An informal allegation of improper, unfair, or arbitrary action by a university employee, department, or service. A complaint may be submitted verbally. However, for purposes of appropriate follow-up, it is recommended that the complaint is submitted in writing.

Grievance:  An unresolved complaint may become a grievance. A grievance is a written claim raised by a student alleging improper, unfair, or arbitrary action by a university employee involving the application of a specific provision of a university policy or procedure. A grievance must be submitted in writing and must include the date, location (if applicable) and the nature of the grievance, the facts on which it is based the alleged violation, and requested resolution.


Steps To File a Complaint

1.  The first step should be to try to resolve concerns directly and informally with the person(s) involved. Often, talking directly with the person(s) involved helps to clarify the issues and reveal the resolution.

2.  If there is no resolution at Step 1, a written or verbal complaint may be submitted to the direct supervisor of the person(s) involved. In the case of complaints of an academic nature, contact the department chair who will work with the appropriate dean. The supervisor/chair/dean will review the facts of the complaint with the complainant, the person(s) involved, and others as deemed appropriate, and communicate a response to all parties.

Steps To File a Grievance

1.  If there is no resolution of the complaint as outlined above, and if the complaint qualifies as a grievance as defined, the student may file a formal, written grievance. The grievance should be submitted, in writing, to the Dean of Students & Alumni Services, who will direct the grievance to the appropriate university official for review and resolution. In circumstances where the grievance is related to the Office of Student Affairs, the grievance should be directed to the .

2.  The identified university official will investigate the grievance, and notify the student in writing of a decision regarding resolution within a reasonable period of time.

3.  The student may appeal the official’s decision in writing to the Vice President of Academic and Student Programs, whose decision will be final. In reviewing the appeal, the Provost shall review the existing documentation with respect to the grievance, and may (but shall not be required to) confer with the student, the initial official reviewer, and any other involved parties or witnesses. In the event that the Vice President of Academic and Student Programs determines that the appellant has established a valid basis for appeal, the Vice President of Academic and Student Programs has the discretion to take action consistent with that determination. That may include, without limitation, remanding the matter in whole or in part to the initial official reviewer, or to a new reviewer, or modifying the original decision as appropriate.

4.  Resolution of the complaint will be documented and placed in the student and/or employee’s file, and if applicable, copy to the Human Resource Department.