/ Student Development

Complaint Policy

As stated in our Virtues of Public Discourse,

“Hope is an educational community whose mission is vitally informed by the historic Christian faith, and in which all individuals are, as a matter of deeply held principle, treated with the respect due them as God’s creatures.”

Students are encouraged to engage in the Virtues at all times and particularly when they find themselves in situations that may involve conflict. The Virtues encourage direct communication and informal resolution whenever possible. Many issues may be resolved when one makes an appointment with a faculty or staff member and communicates their concerns. For matters where a resolution cannot be reached, an individual may file a complaint.

For purposes of the complaint process, Hope College considers an individual to be a student when an enrollment deposit has been paid and thereafter until any of the following occur: Conferral of degree, Non-Return/Withdrawal Form submitted, or 30 days following posting of final grades (applies to non-degree seeking students only).

  • A complaint (defined as a statement of dissatisfaction or discontent with a Hope College employee, office, or department) shall be in writing (preferably using the Complaint Form)
  • Other stakeholders (e.g., parents, community members, alumni) may use the Complaint Form to submit a complaint, providing their contact information in the student information section.
  • Please be assured that no adverse action will be taken against a complainant.
  • Individuals should report complaints promptly and include a short and concise statement of all the relevant facts and the remedy you are requesting so that an inquiry may be completed and resolution achieved.
    • The Associate Dean of Students is available to provide support and guidance as necessary when composing the Complaint Form
  • The complainant will receive a confirmation email upon successful submission.
  • The Associate Dean of Students reviews each Complaint Report to determine appropriate referral. This will be done in conjunction with the Ombudsperson[*]. Referrals will be made within appropriate areas of concern (e.g., academic to Provost’s Office and staff to Human Resources). 
  • Every effort will be made to assign the Complaint Report with attention to fairness, discretion, and lack of bias.
  • Within ten (10) business days of the receipt of the Complaint Report, the Associate Dean of Students will advise the complainant in writing either that: a) the complaint has been referred for an inquiry and resolution and to whom the complaint was referred, or b) that the complaint has been dismissed and the rationale for dismissal).
  • The person to whom the inquiry has been referred has twenty (20) business days from the date of referral to address the complaint. 
    • During the inquiry and response process, the administrator will communicate directly with the complainant to gain their perspective on the situation and/or provide updates. 
    • If the subject of the Complaint Report is a specific person, the administrator will also contact the person to gain their perspective on the situation. 
    • If the subject of the Complaint Report is a department or organization, the administrator will contact the appropriate representative (e.g., department head) to gain their perspective on the situation. 
    • At the conclusion of the inquiry, the administrator will notify the complainant and the Associate Dean of Students in writing of the inquiry and response.
  • The Associate Dean of Students may extend the inquiry period beyond twenty (20) business days by notifying, in writing, the complainant and the subject of the Complaint Form.
  • A complaint may be dismissed without further action if the complainant fails to cooperate in the inquiry.
  • Outcomes of the inquiry may include, but not be limited to:
    • Modification of process(es)
    • Additional training
    • Recommendation of independent investigation
  • A flowchart of the Complaint Process is available here.

The Associate Dean of Students will prepare an annual complaint report for the President and members of the Administrative Council that depicts trends. All data will be anonymized prior to reporting.

*NOTE: Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, chief officer for Culture and Inclusion, serves as the college’s ombudsperson and provides space for students to express concerns or ask questions about institutional policies and practices. Dr. Trent-Brown serves as an impartial representative for Hope College with regard to the student complaint procedure.