Section X: Appeal and Grievance Procedures

This section of the handbook dealing with appeal and grievance procedures only applies to areas not covered in previous sections. These areas include sexual harassment, assault and accommodations for disabilities.

The purpose of an appeal mechanism is to ensure the integrity of the system; the purpose is not to get a second opinion or substitute the judgment of one person for another. The hearer of an appeal makes that determination based on whether there were any procedural errors or errors in judgment by the original decision making body or individual. Procedural errors must be both serious and material. Minor deviations from established protocols do not constitute grounds to overturn a decision, nor do serious deviations if they did not materially affect the outcome; that is to say, the same decision would be arrived at even if no deviations in procedure had occurred. The hearer would determine if an error in judgment had occurred if evidence showed that the decision was inconsistent with established practice, rules, guidelines, or policies. The evidence supporting an error in judgment must be clear and convincing; that is, if that evidence was presented to a group of reasonable persons, at least 75 percent of those persons would conclude that an error in judgment had been made. This is a higher standard of evidence required for the original decision, in which only a preponderance of the evidence agreed to by a simple majority was necessary.

Medical Student Grievance Procedures

1. Informal Mediation:

 A student who believes he/she has been treated unfairly should first attempt to resolve the difficulty through discussion with the other person involved. If the matter cannot be resolved through direct discussion, or the student prefers not to contact the person directly and the student wishes to pursue the matter further, he or she must then discuss the matter with the Associate Dean for Medical Education. The Associate Dean will discuss the matter informally with the parties and attempt to resolve it by mediation.

If a mutually satisfactory solution is not achieved by mediation and the student wishes to pursue the matter further, then the student may pursue the formal grievance procedure described below. If not, no further action is taken.

2. Formal Grievance Procedure:

A written appeal must be filed with the Associate Dean for Medical Education. This appeal must ask for review of the question and must specify the grievance alleged, the reasons for the student’s belief that he or she was aggrieved, and the remedy sought.

If the Associate Dean determines that sufficient information exists to warrant a review, he/she shall refer it to an Appeal & Grievance Committee that will be convened by the Associate Dean. This committee will consist of three faculty members identified by the Associate Dean. If it is a decision by the Associate Dean that is being contested, then the appeal is made directly to the Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences.

If an Appeal & Grievance Committee is convened, the committee shall hear the student, consider the information, confer with other persons concerned, and prepare a report of findings. Committee recommendations shall be made by simple majority vote of the members and shall be transmitted to the Associate Dean, who shall determine the course of action to be taken. A memorandum of what was done shall be prepared for the official record, either by the Associate Dean or by a designated member of the committee, and a copy given to the student.

Sexual Harassment, Misconduct and Assault, Gender Equity, and Racial and Ethnic Discrimination

Brown University’s Sexual Harassment policy:

Medical students who are aware of or have experienced an incident of sexual harassment or sexual assault should promptly report the matter, either through informal or formal mechanisms. The informal mechanism allows the student to receive personal guidance and support. Dr. Christine Montross, (Christine_Montross@Brown.edu) is a consultant to the Office of Student Affairs on issues of student mistreatment, sexual harassment and gender equity. She also serves as the faculty advisor for the Student Health Council a peer support and advising group. 

Dr. Jabbar R. Bennett (Jabbar_Bennett@Brown.edu), Associate Dean for Diversity and staff in the medical school’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs can advise and support students on issues related, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, socio-economic and geographic background.

Medical students with any level of concern or need for clarification pertaining to these areas are encouraged to contact these individuals/offices or any member of the medical school administration to discuss their options. Included in that discussion will be a description of the reporting mechanisms made available by the University.

Students may directly initiate formal grievance procedures, whether or not they go through an informal channel first, by filing a written grievance. If a sexual harassment charge is being made against a member of the faculty or staff, the grievance should be filed with a Sexual Harassment Information Liaison at 3-3145. If the alleged offender is a student, the grievance is filed with the Office of Student Life at 3-3145 or with the Administrator on Call at 3-4111.

Sexual Harassment Information Liaisons and other University personnel (including Deans, Advocates and Harassment & Assault Crisis Coordinators) are required to report incidents which are brought to their attention by students to the designated Title IX Compliance Coordinator, Liza Cariaga-Lo (Liza_Cariaga-Lo@Brown.edu), Associate Provost for Academic Development and Diversity for alleged sexual harassment by faculty/staff; or J. Allen Ward (Jonah_Ward@Brown.edu), Senior Associate Dean for Student Life, for alleged sexual harassment by students. Among other benefits, this policy enables Brown to learn about or confirm a pattern of harassment based on claims by different students that they were harassed by the same individual.

If the investigation leads to a finding that a violation has occurred, sanctions will be imposed by the Office of the Provost when the offender is a faculty member, by a Senior Officer in the case of a staff person, or by the Office of Campus Life and Student Services in the case of a student. Sanctions may range from written reprimands to separation from the University.

Brown University’s Discrimination/Harassment Policy and Grievance Procedures

Student Disability Grievance/Appeal Procedure

Students in the medical school have the right to file grievances/appeals alleging that they are being subjected to prohibited discriminatory treatment in a program or activity of the University based on their disability status. The grievance procedure is as follows:

The student who believes he/she has been discriminated against should first discuss the problem with the person, the person’s supervisor or head of the department in question.  At the request of either party, the supervisor or department head, under whose jurisdiction the matter may fall, may participate. Communicating with Student and Employee Accessibility Services at this stage in the process would be an alternative to communicating directly with the party or parties of concern.

If the student does not believe the problem has been equitably resolved, the student may then file a written complaint to the ADA/504 Compliance Officer. The ADA/504 compliance officer is J. Allen Ward, Senior Associate Dean for Student Life. He can be reached at 401-863-3145 or Jonah_Ward@brown.edu.

The ADA/504 Compliance Officer hearing the grievance shall conduct an inquiry into the matter as deemed appropriate (the Dean/Officer shall have the discretion to appoint an individual(s) to review the matter and render an opinion as to the resolution of the matter) and establish procedures and schedules for inquiry and resolution.  The ADA/504 Compliance Officer will then make a final decision, which will then conclude the matter with such implementation or corrective action as may be prescribed.

All parties should seek to act promptly.  In general, the parties should seek to complete each phase of the process within ten working days, it being understood that particular matters may take longer for a variety of reasons (e.g., complexity of the matter, availability of people).

Note: This procedure is to be used when the matter does not fall within the jurisdiction of other functional review and grievances mechanisms (e.g., the Non-Academic Disciplinary Code, the Financial Aid Awards Review Board).

Additional resources for students can be found on the Student and Employee Accessibility Services (SEAS) website.