Formal complaint process for NAU students
Resolving student problems that could not be settled informally
Northern Arizona University is dedicated to treating all students fairly and respectfully. The university’s policies that apply to students are available in the NAU Policy Listing. Academic policies are included in the University Catalog. In addition, there are policies within individual offices/departments.
When a student encounters a problem on campus or feels they have been treated unfairly, the student should first try to resolve the issue informally with the faculty/staff member or department directly involved. Many issues can be resolved if a student makes an appointment with a faculty or staff member and calmly and honestly communicates their concerns.
Filing a formal student complaint
If the student is not satisfied after working informally to resolve the complaint, the student may file a formal student complaint with the appropriate Dean or Vice President.
We have compiled some useful information and resources below for you as it relates to the formal complaint process. Please explore the following sections for more information on the complaint process.
Formal student complaint definitions Accordion Closed
An individual who is currently enrolled full-time or part-time, or was enrolled at the institution within the previous 12 months (when the underlying facts and circumstances of the complaint first occurred), and who has not been suspended or dismissed.
Parents, relatives, employers, agents, and others acting for or on behalf of a student are not students for the purposes of this procedure.
Formal student complaint
A formal student complaint is any written complaint (via paper/email or online form) made and signed by a student that is received by a Dean, Senior Vice President or the President after the complaint could not be resolved (informally) at the department level.
Complaint review and resolution process Accordion Closed
Resolution methodology and appeal options
Once a formal student complaint is received by a Dean or Vice President, an attempt will be made to resolve the issue in a timely and fair manner by working with the student and the appropriate university employees and offices. It is important to note that a student might not be satisfied with a complaint that is deemed “resolved” by the administration.
If the student is unsatisfied with all attempts to resolve the complaint, he or she can choose to contact the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs who will help identify other resources that may be available to the student including any appeals that may be available from agencies external to the university, including the Arizona Board of Regents or the university’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Formal complaint exceptions Accordion Closed
There are several complaint/appeal processes already in place for specific issues which serve as exceptions to this student complaint process. For complaints in these areas, the student should follow the documented complaint/appeal process as outlined in the policies for that issue. Examples of these include:
- Complaints or grievances arising from, or made in connection with, a student’s employment by the university in any capacity, should be directed to Student Affairs or the Office of Equity and Access, as appropriate.
- Sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, or sex discrimination complaint, or any complaint concerning discrimination, harassment, or Title IX are governed under separate policies. See the Office of Equity and Access for these policies and how to file a complaint.
- Appeals of Academic Grievance should follow the process set forth in the University Catalog.
- Appeals related to Student Disciplinary issues should follow the process provided in the Student Disciplinary Procedures (Code of Conduct)
Students may also use NAU Police Department’s Anonymous Report to alert police about any on-going criminal activity.
Complaint tracking Accordion Closed
Record-keeping and reporting of student complaints
To meet Federal Regulations, a record of the formal student complaint and its disposition will be maintained in the office handling the complaint. All formal written student complaints received by Deans (including Dean of Students), Vice Presidents, or the President will be tracked. Items to be collected include: date complaint received, student name, student user-ID, a brief description of complaint, a summary of action taken by the receiving office, resolution/outcome, date review completed, and notations of any changes to university policy, practice, etc. resulting from the complaint.
The Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs (VP-EMSA) office, or its designee, will annually collect information from the other offices and compile an Annual Institutional Summary of Student Complaints. The VP-EMSA office will also conduct a review of the data to identify any trends/issues that warrant further investigation, revision to existing policies, etc. Information on these issues shall be shared with the appropriate university office(s) for action.
The information tracked will be made available to regulatory agencies and accrediting bodies, including the Higher Learning Commission as required in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and policies.