I am a tenure track assistant professor in a relatively small university (approx. 6000 students). Without giving too much identifiable details, I'll just way that a student was unhappy with some aspect of the course (e.g. grading scales) and filed a complaint directly to the department chair and the dean of the college without giving me any opportunity to respond.
I certainly believe I didn't do anything wrong. At least no other student had a problem with the course. But that's perhaps not important to my question. (Update: The department chair stated over phone conversations that (s)he does not believe I did anything wrong under the extraordinary situation that we and many other schools are facing. My tone, in email messages, is professional but cold. E.g., using "Mr." rather than first name, using "I can..." rather than "I'll be more than happy to...". The Chair said (s)he would not consider this to be an issue. So while it's less than perfect, the Chair cleared of wrongdoing in private)
Surprisingly, the dean of my college got involved directly. Sending detailed instruction through the chair telling me what to do. After several rounds of negotiation, I gave the student exactly what this student demanded. But still, the dean does not like my tone. My messages to this student now have to be reviewed to make sure I sounded friendly and helpful.
This whole thing strike as rather strange. My question is how common are these? Is it common for students to complain to a dean and get their support? Is it common for a dean to get directly involved like this?
A bonus question is, as a tenure track person, what should I do? (Shut up, do what they say, and update my resume, just in case?)