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Grade Grievance and Other Related Academic Complaints

  1. Definition of a student complaint
    1. Grade complaints: a claim that an inappropriate grade has been assigned because of a faculty member's bias or because of a faculty member's failure to follow announced standards for assigning grades but not because of a faculty member's alleged erroneous academic judgment (i.e., not a claim that course standards are too high, reading is too heavy, the grade curve too low, etc.).
    2. Other complaints: a claim of abuse, ill-treatment, or exploitation involving the irresponsible or unjust misuse of the instructor's position of authority, power, and trust (e.g., pointed sexist or racist slurs and sexual or pecuniary blackmail).
  2. Procedures
    1. Grade complaints
      1. A student with a complaint should, where appropriate, first try to reach agreement with the faculty member.  This concern will be forwarded to the faculty member, in writing, within 10 business days of the end of the semester. Upon being notified of a student complaint, the faculty member must meet with the student to discuss the complaint within 10 business days.
      2. If the faculty member does not meet with the student within 10 calendar days, or if such a meeting would be inappropriate under the circumstances, or if the issue remains unresolved after a meeting between the student and the faculty member, the student may submit a written appeal to the chair of the faculty member’s department, who will attempt to mediate the complaint. If the student does not know the faculty member’s department, or cannot ascertain the department chair, the student should contact the Dean of Students (for undergraduate students) and the Associate Dean of the Graduate College (for graduate students.) The appeal must be submitted within 5 business days of the meeting between the student and the faculty member.
      3. The department chair must issue a written decision on the appeal and a description of the proposed resolution, if any, no later than 15 business days after its submission.
      4. A student may appeal a decision by the department chair to the dean of the college in which the department is organized. If requested, the department chair shall provide the name and contact information for the appropriate dean to the student. This appeal request must be submitted no more than 5 business days after the student’s receipt of the department chair’s decision.
      5. The dean will establish a hearing panel within 15 business days of his or her receipt of the appeal or, if that is too close to the end of a semester or session, within 15 business days after the beginning of the next semester. This hearing panel shall consist of 5 members, including 3 faculty members, only 1 of whom may be from the same department as the faculty member in question. The other 2 faculty members shall be drawn from other departments within that college or, if the college has too few departments, from other colleges. The hearing panel shall also include 2 undergraduate student members (for an undergraduate student’s appeal), or 2 graduate students members (for a graduate student’s appeal), neither of whom may be enrolled in the faculty member’s department.
      6. The hearing panel shall:
        1. Solicit from the student and from the faculty member any pertinent written material and names of witnesses whom they would like to call to give testimony.
        2. Schedule a hearing and notify the student, faculty member and witnesses in writing of the date, time, and location of the hearing.
        3. Make available to the student and faculty member, at least 5 calendar days prior to the hearing, all material that has been furnished to the hearing panel and the names of any witnesses who may give testimony.
        4. Provide the student and faculty member with the opportunity to hear all testimony and examine all documents or other materials presented to the hearing panel.
        5. Provide the student and faculty member with the opportunity to question each witness.
        6. Allow the student and faculty member each to be assisted by an advisor of their choice from among the members of the University community. The advisor may help prepare the presentation before the hearing panel, raise questions during the hearing, and, if appropriate, help prepare an appeal. A department chair who has mediated or attempted mediation is not permitted to serve as advisor to either party.
        7. Permit the faculty member and student to make a summary statement at the conclusion of the hearing.
        8. Make a recording of the hearing that shall be kept in the dean’s office for at least one calendar year after the hearing’s conclusion.
      7. Within 10 business days after the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing panel shall provide a written decision and proposed resolution, if any, to the student and the faculty member. The hearing panel shall also inform the Registrar’s Office (for undergraduate students) or the Graduate College (for graduate students) of the decision.
      8. A student or faculty member who is not satisfied with the decision by the hearing panel may appeal to the Academic Appeals Committee of the Faculty Senate. This appeal must be must be submitted within 30 calendar days after receipt of the hearing panel’s decision. This Committee, on reviewing the case, may uphold the decision of the college committee without a hearing or decide the appeal should be heard.
      9. A student or faculty member who is not satisfied with the decision by the college committee (Stage 3) may make a final appeal to the Academic Appeals Committee of the Faculty Senate. This appeal must be submitted within 30 calendar days after receipt of the college committee's decision.
      10. The Academic Appeals Committee, on reviewing the case, may uphold the college committee decision (Stage 3) without a hearing. However, if upon review this Committee determines that an appeal is warranted because of flawed previous process, a disagreement with the previous decision, or the perceived need for further investigation, then the committee must conduct a hearing prior to rendering a final decision. For purposes of a hearing and depending upon the nature of the appeal, the Academic Appeals Committee Chairperson may either appoint an ad hoc panel (consisting of three faculty members and two students) from among the current Committee members or the Committee, at its discretion, may serve as the entire hearing panel. In conducting the hearing, the Committee should be cognizant of regulations affecting professional practice. If the grievant is a graduate student, the 2 student panel members should be graduate students, and if the grievant is an undergraduate student, the student panel members should be undergraduates. During the hearing, the student and faculty member may be assisted by an advisor they have chosen from the University community. The process set forth for the hearing panel (Stage 3) also shall govern this hearing. The decision of the Academic Appeals Committee or, if applicable, the ad hoc committee, shall be final. The committee shall inform the Registrar's Office (for undergraduate students) or the Office of Graduate Studies (for graduate students) of the decision.
      11. The decision of the Academic Appeals Committee or, if applicable, the ad hoc committee, shall be final. The committee shall inform the Registrar’s Office (for undergraduate students) or the Office of Graduate Studies (for graduate students) of the decision.
      12. No grade shall be changed as a result of a grade grievance complaint, except that the University Registrar’s Office is authorized to change the student’s grade in the following situations:
        1. When the student and the faculty member agree; 
        2. If the department chair approves the student's appeal and the faculty member does not appeal that decision; 
        3. If the dean approves the student's appeal based on the hearing panel's recommendation and the faculty member does not appeal that decision; or 
        4. If the Academic Appeals Committee approves the student's appeal.
    2. Other complaints
      1. Other complaints should be sumbitted to the Office of Equity and Inclusion for review and resolution.
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