Student Appeals and Complaints

Student Responsibility and Expectations

As members of our community, students are expected to relate to the University’s standards, campus policies, lifestyle expectations, and classroom regulations in a positive way.

General concerns or feedback is provided through NU Suggestions (https://www.northwestu.edu/suggestions/). If a student has a more serious complaint, or has been treated unfairly, we want to be contacted. Below are instructions for various types of complaints or appeals. If uncertain about the correct category or means of pursuing appeal, please use the Academic Petition or send an initial email to provost@northwestu.edu.

The Academic Appeals Process

The Provost’s Office receives complaints and petitions for unresolved issues. The Academic Appeals process applies to the following types of items: changes to registration (adding or dropping a course after the deadline), requesting a refund for tuition and/or fees, and appeals related to academic policies. Students can complete the Academic Petition form to initiate the appeals process.

If a student has a complaint against a professor with regard to a grade received, a discipline received for academic dishonesty, or other  action affecting the student’s standing, the student shall first respectfully speak to the professor about it (as Jesus instructed in Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you”).

If an acceptable resolution is not reached between the student and the professor, or if the student finds the professor unapproachable the student should speak to the dean/director of the college or center in which the professor teaches.

If an acceptable resolution is not reached, or if the professor is the dean, the student may appeal to the Provost using the Petition for Academics. The decision of the Provost resolves the matter.

However, if the student believes that an error of fact has occurred, or a policy has been violated, the student will have seven days to request (in writing to the Provost) a hearing by the Academic Affairs Committee. A request for a hearing may not be based only on the desire for a different decision/outcome.

A vice chair, designated by the provost for the specific case, shall preside over the hearing. The vice chair shall determine whether the request fulfills the requirements for an appeal to the Academic Affairs Committee. If the vice chair determines that the request for a hearing is not based on an error of fact or policy violation, the vice chair may dismiss the request. Otherwise the vice chair will determine a date for the hearing.

The vice chair shall determine whether testimony is needed and from whom. The vice chair may limit testimony if it becomes irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious.

By a majority vote the committee may decide for the professor or the student, or may reach a decision which arbitrates between the two if it feels that both views presented are incomplete.

The action of the Academic Affairs Committee shall be final.

In cases of severe incompatibility with a professor or with the University’s standards, the student shall voluntarily withdraw from the class or from the University rather than promote disunity.

General Appeals Process

Northwest University is committed to fostering an experience that is supportive to student learning and wellbeing. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our efforts and better serve our students. To that end, the university has established the following process for the Office of Student Development to receive and address student appeals that pertain to experiences outside of the classroom.

Northwest University is an organization with numerous departments, schools and colleges. We aim to have each department responsibly address relevant student appeals at the appropriate level. Therefore, when receiving a student complaint or appeal, Student Development personnel will make every attempt to accurately refer students to the respective department without unnecessary burden to the student.

The following is a list of departments and their general responsibilities:

  • Student Development for concerns about…
    • Housing
    • Roommates
    • Campus dining/meal plan
    • Discrimination/harassment (please see our university policy for exact process)
    • Student conduct and judicial process
    • General maintenance and facilities
  • Student Financial Services for concerns about…
    • Financial aid and award
    • Student loans
    • FAFSA
    • Student bill
  • Campus Security for concerns about…
    • Parking
    • Fire code
    • Emergency and safety protocols

Upon receipt of the appeal, Student Development personnel will determine who is best capable of responding to the student concern. Referrals to the appropriate department will be considered essential in order to handle matters informally and thoroughly.

If the matter cannot be resolved within the appropriate department and the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome, the concern can be addressed using our formal appeal process. The appeal is facilitated through the Office of Student Development using the following process:

  1. Student completes the General Appeal form and submits to Student Development. The form must be relevant, factual and thorough.
  2. Student Development staff will review the appeal. They may request clarification or supporting documents (if possible) from the student.
  3. Student Development staff will communicate with the applicable departments or personnel. They will seek to resolve the matter using internal and established processes (i.e. committees, President’s Cabinet, etc.). If desired and deemed helpful to the process, the student may be asked to provide further clarification or participate in corresponding conversation(s).
  4. Student Development staff will report back to the student with formal closure/resolution. This may

Student Development will assure that all necessary entities are included in the formal appeal process. As such, the resolution of this process is considered final.

For complaints and concerns within this category, please use the Student Development Appeal Form.

Complaints against a University Employee

If a student has a complaint against any University employee for matters not having to do with discrimination or harassment, the student shall first respectfully speak to the employee about it (as Jesus instructed in Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you”). If an acceptable resolution is not reached between the student and the employee, or if the student finds the employee unapproachable the student should speak to the employee’s supervisor. The Dean of Student Development or other Student Development personnel are available to assist and advise students in this process.

If the complaint against the employee has to do with discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment or sexual violence) or retaliation for having made a previous complaint, the student should instead and immediately contact the Dean of Student Development (Rick Engstrom, 425-889-6397, rick.engstrom@northwestu.edu) or the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Human Resources (Victoria Clark, 425-889-7824, victoria.clark@northwestu.edu).

Washington Student Achievement Council Student Complaint Investigation

The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) has authority to investigate student complaints against specific schools. WSAC may not be able to investigate every student complaint. Visit http://www.wsac.wa.gov/student-complaints for information regarding the WSAC complaint process.