This Policy is designed to provide a clear pathway for the handling of student complaints.  All higher education institutions are required by the United States Department of Education and their Accreditor to provide students with appropriate information regarding the filing of complaints.

Students may at any time report a concern, including illegal discrimination and other misconduct, by filling out a student complaint form below.

Students wishing to pursue complaints should cooperate with University officials investigating their complaint, including providing requested written information, meeting with University officials and otherwise making themselves available to provide information, including the following:

  1. The exact nature and details giving rise to the complaint.
  2. The date, time, and place of the events related to the complaint.
  3. The names of witnesses or persons who have knowledge of the facts and circumstances of the complaint.
  4. Any available written documentation or evidence that is relevant to the complaint.

All complaints will be taken seriously and investigated to the extent possible by the person(s) assigned to address the complaint.  It may be difficult or impossible for the University to take action in response to a complaint if the complaining student does not provide sufficient information or does not actively participate in the process. The complaint will be resolved in a manner consistent with applicable law and University policy. The outcome may or may not be what was originally requested by the student. The decision on the complaint is final unless appeal is required by law or University policy. As allowed by law and University policy, the student will be notified of the outcome of the complaint.

A Side Note: Academic Matters

Students wishing to challenge academic decisions must first follow the procedures in the applicable Academic Catalog (e.g., grade appeals, academic misconduct appeals). See Academic Policies. Students who remain dissatisfied with the outcome of an academic matter may have the right to file an external complaint to an accreditor or other outside party or governmental agency. See below under External Student Complaints.

To the extent that a complaint process other than this Policy is specifically directed to the type of complaint being made by the student, then that specific complaint process or policy shall apply rather than this Policy.

Internal Student Complaints

Whenever possible, students should first attempt to resolve their complaints informally by direct communication with the faculty member, staff member or student giving rise to the student’s concern.  Sometimes that informal process in not advisable, including complaints regarding violence, domestic abuse or sexual harassment.  If the informal process is unsuccessful or inappropriate, the student’s next step should in most cases be to bring an internal complaint using the internal processes available to them as described in this policy.

Students who believe that their complaint has not or cannot be properly addressed within the University may address their concerns to outside authorities, agencies or persons as identified below under External Student Complaints

Complaints of Discrimination or Other Misconduct

As required by Federal and State law, Gardner-Webb University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or age. Sexual misconduct, such as sexual harassment, is another form of discrimination.

Students seeking to register a complaint of discrimination or other misconduct against a University employee (Faculty or Staff) should direct their complaints to:

Sharon Hammonds
Associate VP Human Resources
Webb Hall, Room 106
(704) 406-4259
[email protected]

The Associate Vice President for Human Resources may delegate investigation, review and resolution of the complaint to another University official or office. When allegations of sexual misconduct by a University employee are brought to the attention of Human Resources, the allegations shall promptly be brought to the attention of the Title IX Coordinator. Note:  All student complaints of sexual misconduct by employees may also be made directly to the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will promptly report allegations of sexual misconduct involving employees to the attention of Human Resources.

Students seeking to register a complaint of sexual misconduct or other form of illegal discrimination against another student should direct their complaints to:

Lesley Villarose, M.Ed
Vice-President for Student Development and Dean of Students
Tucker Student Center
PO Box 7271
P (704) 406-2081
[email protected]

Victims of sexual misconduct may also find and access a variety of resources on the University Title IX Compliance page, including the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.

The Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students may delegate investigation, review and resolution of the complaint to another University official or office.

Complaints Concerning Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities

Gardner-Webb University is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities.  Students seeking reasonable accommodations should contact the Noel Center for Disability Resources[SS1]  and cooperate with staff members to obtain reasonable accommodations (examples include increased time for tests, quiet testing environment, removing barriers to entry to University facilities, speech language interpreters, etc.). 

Students who are dissatisfied with the accommodations offered, or who have other complaints about University ADA compliance may contact the University Interim ADA Coordinator:

Lesley Villarose, M.Ed
Vice-President for Student Development and Dean of Students
Tucker Student Center
PO Box 7271
P (704) 406-2081
[email protected]

The Interim ADA Coordinator will work with the student and the Noel Center for Disabilities Resources to address and respond to the student’s complaint.

Other types of Internal Complaints (not involving discrimination or other misconduct)

Student Complaint Form[SS1] . Complaints may also be presented directly to the office of the Vice President who oversees the policies or programs that are the subject of the complaint. The Vice President may delegate review of the complaint to another University official or office.

  • Complaints related to student life, student activities, residence life, counseling, safety and security, should be made to the Vice President of Student Development.
  • Complaints related to Christian Life and Service should be made to the Vice President for Christian Life and Service.
  • Complaints related to admissions practices, recruitment, and financial aid should be made to the Vice President for Enrollment Management.
  • Complaints related to facilities, accounts payable or student accounts should be made to the Vice President for Finance and Administration.
  • Complaints related to athletics should be made to the Vice President for Athletics.
  • Complaints related to academics should be made to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

External Student Complaints

Complaints regarding the institution that cannot be resolved internally may be directed to a governmental agency, accreditor or other outside organization (see details below).


Students may bring external complaints of discrimination to:

The Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”)
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202
Telephone: (202) 245-8300
Email: [email protected]

Information regarding the OCR complaint process may be found here.

OCR enforces several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive Federal funds. These laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, sex, disability, and age.

Note: OCR does not handle cases while they are being addressed internally if OCR anticipates that the University is providing an internal complaint resolution process comparable to OCR’s. Once the internal process is completed, students have 60 days to file a complaint with OCR.

Additional Resources for External Student Complaints

Consumer Complaints

The Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice accepts consumer complaints. Students may visit State Attorney General’s File a Complaint, and click on the General Consumer Complaint Form under the section “Complain Online.”

Complaints may be mailed to:

North Carolina Department of Justice
Consumer Protection Division
Attorney General’s Office
Mail Service Center 9001
Raleigh, NC 27699-9001

For telephone assistance:
Toll-free within North Carolina: 1-877-5-NO-SCAM
From outside North Carolina: (919) 716-6000
En Espanol: (919) 716-0058

Complaints to the University’s Accreditor

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accepts  individuals to attempt to resolve the complaint through all means available to the complainant, including the institution’s internal complaint procedures, before submitting a complaint to SACSCOC. Complete information about the SACSCOC process is at Complaint Procedures Against the Commission or its Accredited Institutions.

Additional contact information:

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
Phone: (404) 679-4500

Online and Distance Education Students

Students who are not residents of North Carolina or California, and who have exhausted all University internal remedies, may lodge complaints regarding the University’s online and distance education programs with the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Students do so by submitting complaints to SARA-North Carolina. SARA-North Carolina operates under NCSEAA (North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority). Access the Complaint Form at SARA-North Carolina Student Complaint Process web page.

Contact Information for NCSEAA c/o SARA North Carolina:
P.O. Box 41349
Raleigh, NC 27629
Toll free: 855.SARA.1.NC (727.2162)
Local: 919.549.8614, ext. 4667
Email: [email protected]


Students who are veterans may lodge complaints against their educational institution through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs  if their school is failing to follow the VA Principles of Excellence  (800-698-2411).