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Division of Student Affairs

Report A Student Concern - CARES


For immediate concerns related to persons making threats to harm themselves or others; that pose a significant threat to the University and/or its community; or for other emergency issues, please immediately contact the  University Police Department
at 601.266.4986 or 9-1-1. Matters requiring immediate action are referred to the Critical Incident Response Team.


Campus Action Referral and Evaluation System (CARES)  

WHAT IS THE MISSION OF CARES (Campus Action Referral and Evaluation System)?

USM CARES is a team of campus professionals who respond to reports of concern regarding the academic progress and well-being of students.


By using this portal, you enable CARES to proactively respond to concerns about any disruption to a safe and productive living and learning community. We reach out to students quickly and make sure they connect with the resources useful in their situation.  We address issues including (but not limited to) situations of self-harm, family difficulties, stress management, mental health concerns, academic performance problems, addictions, Code of Conduct violations, Title IX issues, Clery Act related issues and/or issues of academic integrity (e.g. plagiarism).  

For a list of policies and laws related to the types of issues that CARES helps address, please review the Policies and Procedures page. 


Submit a Report

Submit a Request for Services

Complaints, Grievances and/or Appeals


Report a Concern, Violation, or Problem

To report any concerns about the behavior or personal well-being of students, click the button below.  If your concern is purely academic (excessive absences, poor performance) without any knowledge of personal well-being issues, please follow your department's policy and procedure regarding academic issues.


Report an Academic Integrity Concern

The University is tracking cases related to academic integrity to better determine (1) where more education might be needed, and/or (2) where individual students are involved in multiple violations.

Violations of the University’s academic integrity policy that result in a change to any student grade should be reported using this form.


Report an Issue to the Dean of Students

This form provides an avenue for all faculty, staff, and students to report non-emergency incidents to the Dean of Students Office. 

Incidents may include (but are not limited to):

  • Violations of the Student Code of Conduct
  • Violations of local, state and federal laws
  • Classroom Disruptions
  • General complaints/conflicts/concerns

Reports will be responded to within 3 business days. If you have any questions regarding any incident please contact the Dean of Students office via phone by calling 601.266.6028, via email dosFREEMississippi or by stopping by Room 231 of the R. C. Cook Union.


Report Sexual Misconduct

Employees have a duty to report any incident of sexual misconduct, such as sexual harassment or assault to the Title IX Coordinator.  See the Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Harassment Policy. For information about the procedures that apply to resolving reports of the occurrence of such matters, see the Procedures for the Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Harassment policy.

Please click below to provide information regarding any situation involving sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or sexual assault:


Campus Security Authority (CSA) Incident Report

Under Federal Law (The Clery Act), the University is required to report annual statistics for crime and safety on campus.  If you have an emergency situation, please call 911.  Persons designated as Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) are required to report certain illegal conduct. If you are a designated CSA who is aware of criminal activity and it is not an emergency, please click below to report the incident or behavior. 



Request for Academic Notification

Students are responsible for attending class and acknowledging absences to their professor pursuant to the terms of the class attendance policy set forth in the syllabus.  If a professor requests that you have absences authenticated, contact the Office of Student Ombudsman Services for assistance by filling out the Request for Academic Notification.   For more information about the Office of Student Ombudsman Services, click here. 


Request Pregnancy/Childbirth Accommodations

Students requesting disability accommodations  should contact the Office of Disability Accommodations: see contact information below. Need more information,  review the Pregnant and Parenting Student Rights information.

Mr. Scott Dossett
Director, Office of Disability Accommodation
Bond Hall 144, Hattiesburg Campus, Campus Box 8586


If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Compliance and Ethics at 601-266-4466 or click the button to email.  



Consumer Complaints

  • National Council of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA)

    The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is an institutional participant in SARA.  As such, USM can offer distance education both online and through out-of-state supervised experiences.

    After having exhausted their institutional remedies, a student taking distance education courses from a state outside of Mississippi may file a complaint with the SARA portal agent with all matters other than conduct and grade related complaints.

    For additional information about NC-SARA, select the SARA button below. 

SARA Member State

Accrediting Agency

  • Additionally, USM's accrediting agency Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges who accredits USM to award baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctorate degrees requires USM to track complaints, respond in a timely manner and offer a digital means of responding to complaints.

NOTE: For information about required Student Disclosures, select Student Consumer Information Disclosures


  • Concern- Enables an individual to express worry regarding an issue considered important which necessitates reassurance.
  • Complaints-Provides the means for an individual to express their dissatisfaction about action or lack of action relative to a matter either academic or non-academic in nature.  Typically dissatisfaction regarding a service, faculty member- interaction with a faculty member-, or product provided. 
  • Grievance-Allows an individual to allege a violation of their rights without a rational basis or in bad faith.  Some grievances focus specifically on certain areas such as discrimination or sexual harassment.
  • Appeal-Permits an individual to make a formal request asking for a change in a decision that has been made. Appeals occur after an action has been taken against an individual that the individual deems unfair or a violation of their rights

Student Complaints

Sometimes students have complaints about University services, employees, and/or offices.  If you are a student and have a complaint that does not fall into one of the other categories listed below, please complete this form, and we will respond to your complaint.  

Click here to review a copy of the policy


Grievances And/Or Appeals

If you have a complaint that is not resolved by the parties involved, you may file a grievance.

There are two types of grievances, informal grievances, and formal grievances.  

Most types of dissatisfaction can be resolved through an informal face-to-face discussion between the people involved, and students should typically start with this strategy.  If that discussion is not satisfactory, the student should next try to discuss the matter with that person’s immediate supervisor (e.g., chair of an academic department, the director of a university service office, etc.).  For appropriate contacts, please click here. If the concerns are more serious or are not resolved informally, students may exercise formal grievance and appeals processes.

Some situations always lead to a formal process: grade appeals (see the Office of the Provost’s page for details); appeals originating in the student judicial council and/or the Office of the Dean of Students; and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

These formal grievances always involve submission of a written grievance and various steps through the process.  For these situations, students should follow the procedures included in the links below:

Other Complaint Avenues

 Regional Accrediting Agency
A complaint with our regional accrediting agency – the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) – can be filed when there is evidence to support noncompliance with a SACSCOC standard or requirement. Please review the Commission’s complaint policy, procedures, and complaint form. The SACSCOC contact information is below:

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
1866 Southern Lane Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
Phone: (404) 679-4500
Fax: (404) 679-4558

State Authorizing Agency
A complaint can be filed with our state authorizing agency – the Mississippi Commission on College Accreditation (MCAA)–when there is evidence of the of the following: 
conduct or behavior on the part of the University of Southern Mississippi or any of its agents, representatives or employees that constitute dishonest or fraudulent behavior, including providing false or misleading information to a student
the operation of programs (including distance education) contrary to practices expected by institutional and/or programmatic/specialized accreditors
[The University of Southern Mississippi has a number of programs that are accredited by professional, discipline-specific accrediting bodies. Accredited programs at USM are listed at Contact the Office of the Provost for additional information on program accreditation.]

Please review the MCCA Student Complaint Process.

The MCCA contact information is below:

Menia Dykes
3825 Ridgewood Road
Jackson, MS 39211-6453
Telephone: 601.432.6372
Fax: 601.432.6225

If your complaint has been escalated through the grievance and appeal process and cannot be resolved, please review these points of escalation applicable to students taking online courses from outside of the state of Mississippi.  Please note matters regarding grades and conduct cannot be escalated beyond the institutional level.

Program Integrity
Title 34 CFR § 668.43(b) of the Federal Program Integrity rules also require institutions to provide “…its students or its prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accreditor and with tis state approval or licensing entity and any other relevant State Official or agency that would appropriately handle a student’s complaint.”

Higher Education Opportunities Act of 2008
To comply with the Higher Education Opportunities Act of 2008, institutions offering education must provide enrolled and prospective students with contact information for filing complaint with its accrediting agency and with the appropriate state agency for handling complaints in the student’s state.

SARA Member State
The University of Southern Mississippi participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement.  Students residing in member states are subject to the SARA Complaint Process which is detailed on the SARA Student Complaint Process page.  For a list of SARA Member states, see the SARA States & Institutions page.If your issue was not resolved at the institutional level and does not involve a matter related to grades or conduct, you can appeal to the portal agent for Mississippi by contacting her using one of the methods indicated below:Menia Dykes

Director of Accreditation
Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning
3825 Ridgewood Road
Jackson, MS 39211
Complaint Form

State Agencies  
If an issue cannot be resolved institutionally, students residing outside the state of Mississippi who do not reside in a SARA member state may file a complaint about The University of Southern Mississippi with their State by referring to the list of State Agencies on the U.S. Department of Education website. For a list of SARA member states, see the SARA States & Institution page.


Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC)

Filing a Complaint Related to a MSVCC Course: MSVCC classes are taught through a consortium agreement that Southern Miss has established with the Mississippi Virtual Community College (part of the Mississippi Community College Board). A specific process applies in order to file complaints related to MSVCC courses as detailed on the Filing a Complaint Related to an MSVCC course.  Use the identifying A Course as a MSVCC Course to determine if you are taking an MSVCC online course.


Active Duty Receiving Tuition Assistance or Spousal Assistance

File a complaint with the Department of Postsecondary Education Complaint System.

Veteran Using Montgomery or Post 9/11 GI Bill

File a complaint with the Department of Veterans Affairs relative to an institution failing to follow the Principles of Excellence relative to recruiting or marketing practices, accreditation, financial issues, student loans, post-graduation job opportunities, or change in degree plan/requirements.

GI Bill Beneficiaries

The Mississippi State Approving Agency (SAA), is the approving authority of education and training programs for Mississippi. Our office investigates complaints of GI Bill beneficiaries. While most complaints should initially follow the school grievance policy, if the situation cannot be resolved at the school, the beneficiary should contact our office via email at

Student with a Private Student Loan
File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Current Student Receiving Federal Financial Aid 
File a complaint with the Department of Education Ombudsman.







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