Student Dispute Resolution Center
From time to time, differences may arise between students and the University. These are usually due to a minor misunderstanding and may be easily resolved by the student and University personnel engaging in further conversations. Ashford University encourages all parties to first pursue such discussions in an effort to work through these matters.
If you are unable to come to satisfactory agreement regarding your issue through engaging in conversations directly with the involved parties, the Student Dispute Resolution Center (SDRC) is available to assist. The SDRC’s mission is to provide high-quality dispute resolution services to the University and the students it serves. The SDRC aims to assist in these situations by investigating your issue and assisting in finding a mutually satisfactory solution.
Filing a Complaint with the University
There are some important points to remember when bringing a complaint to the SDRC:
- Research any University policies regarding your specific concern. The Academic Catalog has information regarding policies and procedures that will be very helpful in understanding the nature of the issue. Please refer to Section Two: Student Rights and Responsibilities and/or Section Five: General Academic Information and Policies for more information. Access the Ashford University Academic Catalog.
- Keep notes of your conversations. It is helpful to know names of individuals with whom you have worked, when you spoke to them, what you discussed, and any other steps you have taken to rectify the issue.
- Stay calm. Being ill-tempered may impede your ability to find a satisfactory solution to the matter.
- Be able to clearly express your desired outcome.
It is important to note that the SDRC does not handle the following issues*:
- Grade appeals
- Transfer credit appeals
- Appeal of academic dismissal
- Appeal of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
- Appeal of Student Community Standards findings
- Challenge to course content
- Challenge regarding instructor performance
These matters are handled directly by the appropriate University department. Any requests regarding the topics mentioned above will be referred back to the appropriate University department for resolution. It is best to contact these departments directly with any of these concerns.
*The SDRC will address only when the matter relates to allegations of bias or discrimination. The SDRC is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 7:00 pm Central Time and is closed on University and national holidays.
To submit a complaint, complete the items contained in the Student Dispute Resolution Form below. You may also read about the SDRC's process.
For more information on the various dispute resolution processes available, please call 866.974.5700, ext. 20091, fax 877.817.6732 or email [email protected].
Student Dispute Resolution Center Submission Form
Step 1 of the Dispute Resolution Procedure for Student Complaints encourages you to address your concerns first with the individual involved in the complaint (or the direct supervisor of that individual). If that does not provide satisfactory resolution or is impractical, please complete the form.
DO NOT USE THIS FORM FOR THE FOLLOWING: grade appeal, transfer credit appeal, appeal of academic dismissal, appeal of Student Community Standards findings, or to challenge course content or instructor performance.
The Center does not have the authority to review these decisions, subject to exceptions described in the University Academic Catalog. Please follow the appropriate procedure for appeal of these concerns as outlined in the Academic Catalog (www.ashford.edu/catalog).
Office of Student Mediation and Dispute Resolution
Informal Student Complaints
The Student Facilitation & Mediation (SFM) team provides informal, confidential and voluntary avenues toward dispute resolution. Unlike the formal grievance process, the informal facilitation or mediation process does not involve a formal investigation, and the parties involved control the decision making process. It operates primarily through informal, interest-based mediation. Mediation, or facilitated negotiation, is a process in which a neutral party (the Student Dispute Resolution Facilitator) assists individuals in conflict to:
- Discuss and discover underlying issues of concern;
- Develop better understanding of their concerns and the perspectives of other participants;
- Make voluntary and informed decisions during the dispute resolution process.
Mediation is not a legal proceeding. The advantage of mediation is that it can be conducted in almost any setting. Here are some basic principles of mediation:
- Mediation is voluntary. Participants should not feel forced into making decisions during mediation and always have the option to discontinue participation.
- Mediation involves informed decision making. This means that full disclosure of relevant information is expected. The Student Dispute Resolution Facilitators may choose to terminate the mediation if they believe participants are not able to make informed decisions, such as when participants withhold or misrepresent information.
- Participants themselves make decisions in mediation. There are two aspects to this. First, participants are solely responsible for making decisions. Second, there are many types of decisions that participants may make, including whether or not to pursue mediation, who should be involved in the discussion, how to explore additional information, what options are preferable, and so on.
- Student Dispute Resolution Facilitators are neutral. Student Dispute Resolution Facilitators, who serve as mediators, will not make decisions for participants or make any judgments of who is right or wrong. Student Dispute Resolution Facilitators have nothing to gain or lose in any particular outcome and treat all participants in a fair and balanced way. The main goal of the Student Dispute Resolution Facilitator is to help create an environment for the parties to make voluntary and informed decisions.
- Mediation is a confidential process. Student Dispute Resolution Center team members will not reveal anything that happens or is said during mediation to any other person, outside the Student Dispute Resolution Center, except as permitted by law or as necessary to implement a resolution. Allegations of child abuse or threats of future harm to any person shall not be held confidential and may be revealed as appropriate by the Student Dispute Resolution Facilitator. Likewise, participants themselves are asked to keep confidential everything that is communicated during mediation, except as they agree otherwise or as permitted by law.
The University encourages students to resolve their concerns at the departmental level and understands that sometimes another level of dispute resolution or conflict management might be necessary. For more information about the facilitation and mediation processes, please contact the Center at 866.974.5700, ext. 20091 or [email protected]
Student Grievance Resolution
Formal Student Grievances
Welcome to the Office of Student Grievance Resolution (SGR). The SGR team conducts thorough, impartial investigations of student concerns. During this process, the Student Grievance Resolution Administrator will interview the initiator and other individuals named or related to the allegations stated in the grievance. Please see the University Academic Catalog for additional details about the formal grievance process.
For more information about the formal grievance process, the appeal of a formal grievance outcome, or arbitration, please contact the Center at 866.974.5700, ext. 20091 or [email protected].