Goodwin College Arbitration Agreement
Please read this Arbitration Agreement carefully. It is part of your contract with Goodwin College and affects your rights. It contains procedures for MANDATORY BINDING ARBITRATION AND A CLASS ACTION WAIVER.
Goodwin College (the “College”) takes student satisfaction seriously and is committed to protecting the rights of its students. Whenever a student has a concern, it is important to know where to go and the options for resolving any disputes fairly and effectively. Accordingly, the College has established dispute resolution procedures, including this Arbitration Agreement (the “Agreement”), to address concerns and resolve disputes with the College, its faculty and its staff. It is designed to provide a speedy, efficient and cost-effective method for the fair and final resolution of disputes. The College has established these procedures for the benefit of its students and will not tolerate any form of harassment, intimidation or retaliation against a student as a result of invoking these procedures.
This Agreement is a contract between the College and you (the “student”). By enrolling in the College, the student accepts all the policies, rules and regulations of the College, including this Arbitration Agreement, and is bound by them. The student understands and agrees that the student is entering into a binding Arbitration Agreement, and the student and the College are each waiving the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action with regard to claims against the College, its faculty and its staff. Goodwin College has adopted binding arbitration in addition to the other procedures it offers students for dispute resolution and the option to submit written complaints to the Connecticut Office of Higher Education or to the College’s accrediting agency. Neither the College nor the student may invoke the mandatory arbitration procedure unless and until the College’s internal dispute resolution procedures have failed to provide a satisfactory resolution. In that event, any dispute or claim between you and the College, whether or not the student is currently enrolled in the College, shall be resolved through binding arbitration instead of in courts of general jurisdiction.
The arbitration process is designed to be as convenient and inexpensive for students as possible. Arbitration is more informal than a lawsuit in court and uses a neutral arbitrator instead of a judge or jury. To limit costs, arbitration permits more limited discovery of facts and documents than a suit in court and is subject to very limited review by courts. Arbitrators under this Agreement are authorized to award the same damages and relief to individuals that a judge or jury could award. Any arbitration under this Agreement would take place only on an individual basis; class arbitrations and class actions are not permitted.
Students shall have the right to opt-out of and reject this Arbitration Agreement by sending written notice to the College at Goodwin College, One Riverside Drive, East Hartford, CT 06118, Attention: Director Compliance; to be effective, such notice must actually be received by the College no later than 30 days following the date of the student’s enrollment at the College. If you have any questions about the College’s internal dispute resolution procedures or this Arbitration Agreement, please contact the College’s Director of Compliance by phone at (860) 727-6741 or by email at MMonahan@goodwin.edu.
The scope of this Agreement to arbitrate is intended to be broadly interpreted. It includes but is not limited to a student’s claims arising out of or relating to the relationship with the College, whether based in contract, tort, statute, fraud, misrepresentation or any other legal theory, and it includes claims that may arise after the student is no longer enrolled at the College. This Agreement applies to claims concerning any of the College’s faculty, staff, agents, subsidiaries, affiliates, employees, predecessors in interest, successors and assigns. This Agreement shall survive the termination of any enrollment agreement, financial aid agreement, or any other contractual relationship between the student and the College. The Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16) governs the interpretation and enforcement of this provision.
To initiate arbitration, the student must obtain a form from either the Director of Compliance or at http://www.adr.org/aaa/ShowPDF?doc=ADRSTG_004175 and complete the form. If the student submits the completed form to Goodwin College (One Riverside Drive; East Hartford, CT 06118, Attention: Director of Compliance), the College will file the form with the arbitrator and pay the filing fee. Alternatively, the student may file the form directly with the arbitrator, but the student must submit a copy of the filed form within two days of its filing, to Goodwin College, One Riverside Drive; East Hartford, CT 06118, Attention: Director of Compliance. Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement, the arbitration will be governed by the Commercial Dispute Resolution Procedures and the Supplementary Procedures for Consumer Related Disputes (collectively, “Arbitration Rules”) of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”), and will be administered by the AAA. The AAA Rules are available online at www.adr.org or by calling the AAA at 800.778.7879. If there is any conflict between the Arbitration Rules and this Agreement, the terms set forth in this Agreement shall control. To the extent there is no federal substantive law applicable to the dispute, the parties agree that the laws of the state of Connecticut will apply, exclusive of its choice of law rules.
The arbitration will be conducted by a single, neutral arbitrator, who will be selected according to the Arbitration Rules. The arbitrator will be bound by the terms of this Agreement. Unless the student and College agree otherwise, any arbitration hearings will take place in Hartford County, where the College and most of its enrolled students are located. If the student’s claim is for $10,000 or less, the student and the College agree that the student may elect to have the arbitration conducted solely on the basis of documents submitted to the arbitrator, through a telephonic hearing, or by an in-person hearing as established by the Arbitration Rules. If the student’s claim exceeds $10,000, the right to a hearing will be determined by the Arbitration Rules. The arbitrator shall issue a reasoned written decision sufficient to explain the essential findings and conclusions on which the award is based. The arbitrator will have no authority to alter any of the student’s grades or to require the College to change any of its policies or procedures. The arbitrator’s decision shall be final and binding.
This Agreement does not preclude the parties from seeking provisional remedies in aid of arbitration from a court of appropriate jurisdiction, from filing an individual action in small claims court, or from filing a complaint with an appropriate governmental agency. The parties agree that any judgment or award of an arbitrator rendered pursuant to this Agreement may be entered in any federal or state court having jurisdiction thereof. Any federal or state court with jurisdiction and venue may enter an order enforcing this arbitration Agreement, enter judgment upon the arbitrator’s award, and/or take any action authorized under the Arbitration Rules. Except as may be required by law, neither a party nor an arbitrator may disclose the existence, content or results of any arbitration conducted pursuant to this Agreement without prior written consent of both parties.
c. Costs and Fees.
If the student’s claim is for $10,000 or less, the College will pay all filing, administration and arbitrator costs and fees up to a total amount of $3500 for any arbitration initiated in accordance with the requirements above, with any remaining costs and fees to be paid in accordance with the Arbitration Rules; provided, however, that if the arbitrator finds that the substance of the student’s claim or the relief sought is frivolous or brought for an improper purpose (as determined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b)), payment of all fees will be governed by the Arbitration Rules, and the student agrees to reimburse the College for any funds it previously disbursed that the arbitrator determines are the student’s obligation to pay. If the student’s claim exceeds $10,000, the payment of fees will be governed by the Arbitration Rules. Each party will bear the expense of its own attorneys, experts and witnesses, regardless of which party prevails, unless applicable law or this Agreement gives a right to recover any of those fees from the other party. Although under some laws the College may have a right to an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses if it prevails in arbitration, the College agrees that it will not seek such an award.
d. Class Waiver and Right to Remedies.
THE STUDENT AND GOODWIN COLLEGE AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS ONLY IN ITS, HIS OR HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND THAT EACH PARTY IS WAIVING THE RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY OR TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING. Unless both the student and the College agree otherwise, the arbitrator may not consolidate two or more persons’ claims, and may not otherwise preside over any form of a representative or class proceeding. The arbitrator may award any relief that would be available in an action in court as to the individual parties in the arbitration, including an award of injunctive relief in favor of the individual party seeking relief, but only to the extent necessary to provide relief warranted by that party’s individual claim. If this specific class waiver provision is found to be unenforceable in an arbitration of a student’s grievance, then the entirety of this arbitration provision shall not be enforceable as to the dispute between that student and the College. If any part(s) of this Agreement other than the class waiver provision is found to be unenforceable, then such specific part(s) shall be of no force and effect and shall be severed, but the remainder of this Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.
e. Notice of Changes.
The College may find it necessary to update or modify this Agreement from time to time. The student agrees that the College may modify this Agreement to clarify or explain terms, modify procedures within the Agreement (e.g., selecting a different arbitration company), or make other non-material changes and that such changes will become effective thirty days after the College gives notice of such modifications to the student. The student and the College agree that if the College makes any material change to this Arbitration Agreement, the College will notify the student of the change and the student may reject such change by sending the College written notice of rejection actually received by the College within thirty days of receiving notice of the material modification. If no such notice of rejection is received, the change shall be effective. Written notices should be sent to Goodwin College, One Riverside Drive; East Hartford, CT 06118, Attention: Compliance Specialist. By rejecting any change, the student agrees to arbitrate any dispute between the student and the College in accordance with the terms of the Agreement in effect at the time the Agreement was accepted by both parties.