Hampshire College prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The College has adopted a grievance procedure to provide prompt and equitable resolution of complaints which allege any action prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and applicable state law. These laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in any programs, activities, and employment opportunities available at Hampshire College. These laws also prohibit retaliation against an individual who files a complaint regarding disability discrimination, files a grievance under this procedure, or cooperates in the investigation of such complaint or grievance.
If a student is in need of accommodation related to any of Hampshire’s physical environments or programs, they are strongly encouraged to disclose their disability to OARS in order to have access to advocacy and on-campus resources which assist with proactive removal and prevention of barriers through accommodations or other means. This includes, but is not limited to dining and residence, academic programs, co-curricular programs and events, and on campus employment. If students do encounter any additional, unforeseen barriers to College programs, services, or resources, they are encouraged to report these barriers as soon as reasonably possible to the department where the barrier was encountered and to the Office of Accessibility Resources and Services (OARS). If a student encounters a barrier or discrimination in the course of working for the college as a student employee, the student can still seek resolution through the student grievance process.
Informal Solutions are Encouraged
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) encourages alternative means of dispute resolution when appropriate and to the extent authorized by law. These methods include settlement negotiations, conciliation, facilitation, mediation and arbitration. The use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms is completely voluntary and is intended to supplement, and not to supplant, the remedies provided by the ADA as an aspect of the interactive accommodation process. No alternative dispute resolution procedure precludes the affected person from seeking relief under the enforcement provisions of the ADA. Alternative dispute resolution measures are not required to be used prior to the filing of an administrative complaint with the federal government or through existing campus discrimination grievance procedures.
The College encourages students to seek the aid and intervention of the director of OARS in order to resolve complaints informally – typically conciliation or facilitation of a remedy. If informal procedures do not satisfactorily address the student's concerns, they may still file a written grievance.
Filing a Written Grievance
Students have the right to file a grievance if they believe they have been denied equal access to the college's programs, resources or services (academic or otherwise) because of, or on the basis of, a disability. In order to establish the basis for such a grievance students must first register with the Office of Accessibility Resources and Services (OARS) and provide written documentation of their disability. The written grievance should include the student's identifying information (name and student ID), a description of how the College has denied equal access to the student, any steps that the student has already taken to identify and resolve the problem, and the desired remedy. Students are encouraged to include relevant documents to support their account.
The formal grievance should be given to the director of OARS. The director will investigate the complaint and meet with the parties cited to resolve the student’s concerns. Absent any unusual circumstances, the director will make recommendations for resolution to the student and other parties involved within thirty days after the filing of the grievance.
Appealing a Grievance Resolution
If the proposed resolution is unacceptable to the student or to the other principals in the grievance, either party may then appeal to the chief diversity officer. The chief diversity officer may attempt to reach an informal resolution and/or investigate the grievance as described above or shall review all of the documents pertaining to the case, hear the parties and convene such meetings as required to resolve the complaint. If consensus on a resolution cannot be reached, the chief diversity officer will render a decision as soon as possible after an appeal has been submitted. It typically takes about 10 days, but may take up to 21 days, to consider the appeal when such additional time is deemed necessary. In rare instances where extenuating circumstances exist, appeals may take longer than 21 days for a decision to be rendered. The decision of the chief diversity officer is final.
If a grievance pertains to the actions of the director of OARS or the chief diversity officer specifically, or they are unable to otherwise serve in the above outlined capacities due to any other conflict of interest, an appropriate senior-level administrator will be appointed to serve in their place during the relevant parts of the grievance process.
Privacy and Confidentiality
Personal information regarding such grievances is considered confidential. The College reserves the right to consult with legal counsel, relevant faculty or staff, and/or experts in the field of disability services in order to obtain information or advice regarding the subject of the grievance. All individuals consulted agree to be bound by the rules governing disclosure of confidential personal information.
State and Federal Options
The College recognizes the right of students to file grievances with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights or other regulators if they believe that their rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 have been violated.
Office for Civil Rights, Boston Office
U.S. Department of Education
5 Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109-3921
Telephone: (617) 289-0111
Fax: (617) 289-0150
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Disability Rights Section, NYA
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 307-0663 (voice and TDD)
Fax: (202) 307-1198
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108