Resolving Complaints

Cornell is committed to ensuring that the programs, services, and activities of the university are accessible and that accommodations are effective for students with disabilities. 

Our university complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to ensure that otherwise qualified students with disabilities are not discriminated against on the basis of their disabilities and that they are not excluded from or denied the benefits of our programs and services. 

If you have concerns about your registration for disability services, the way in which your accommodations have been provided, or that you have been discriminated against because of a disability, you should take the following steps:

Informal Processes

  • Concerns about classroom accommodations, disparate or disparaging treatment related to disability, or access issues on campus are addressed most effectively by discussing the concern with your SDS counselor and the appropriate instructor or staff person as soon as the issue arises.  
  • Consult the SDS Director regarding your concerns, steps taken to resolve the issue and additional considerations to address your concerns and potential resolutions.
  • If you have complaints about alleged discrimination or policy/procedure violations by the SDS Director, you are encouraged to discuss the matter with the Director, but this is not required. 
    • If the matter remains unresolved, either because you remain dissatisfied or because you choose not to discuss the matter with the Director, contact the Executive Director for Cornell Health, to whom SDS reports, within 30 days of the time at which you knew, or could reasonably be expected to have known, of the action(s) in question.
  • Attempts to resolve the matter informally should be completed within 60 days of the time at which you knew, or could reasonably be expected to have known, of the action(s) in question.
  • If you opt to pursue an informal resolution to your issue and are not satisfied with the outcome, you may later pursue a formal grievance.

Formal Processes

Students who believe they have been discriminated against and wish to seek a formal resolution should use Policy 6.4, Prohibited Discrimination, Protected Status (Including Sexual) Harassment and Bias Activity. The policy is administered through the Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations.

Additional Resources for Resolving Complaints

The Office of the University Ombudsman is available to all students, faculty, and staff affiliated with all units of Cornell University, excluding the Weill Cornell Medical College. The office is an independent, neutral, and informal resource that offers a safe place where community members may discuss problems or issues within the University. The Ombudsman holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so, except as required by law, or where, in the judgment of the Ombudsman, there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm. 

At any time a student has the right to submit a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights or the New York State Division of Human Rights.