Student Concerns/Grievances

What is a grievance?
A grievance is a complaint that alleges a violation of academic or university policy. Students have the right to file a complaint and pursue a formal procedure to ensure due process. Typically, grievances involve a detailed conversation with faculty or student and an investigation into the alleged complaint. Students and faculty will be requested to provide evidence and documentation to either support or refute the claim. A grievance can also be considered an opportunity for clarification and mediation of an issue between a faculty member and a student.

Grounds for grievance complaints:

  • Grade appeals based on inaccurate calculation errors
  • Arbitrary grading – final grade was not based on one of the following: course performance as outlined by the syllabus, different standards were applied to different students in an unfair manner, improper bias, discrimination, or the standard of evaluation deviated in an unreasonable and unannounced manner
  • Appeals relating to academic program requirements
  • Academic program issues

Faculty have the right to assess work quality and assign grades based on defined methods of evaluation in a given course as long as the evaluative methods are perceived by a reasonable person to be fair, unbiased, and not unlawfully discriminatory. The grievance process is to determine fairness in evaluation procedures, but should not be seen as a way to overturn an undesirable grade.  

For Academic Grade Grievances and Academic Program Concerns. (The initiation of the student grade grievance must take place within three weeks from the beginning of the next regular (Fall or Spring) semester.

Grade grievances may only be initiated after a final grade has been received for the course.

To begin the mediation process, students should follow the steps below:

    • Step 1: Student should attempt to resolve the issue with the individual faculty member. Student should send a professional and polite e-mail to the faculty explaining his/her concern and requesting a time to discuss concerns. In some cases, it may make sense to visit the faculty member during posted office hours. In the event that the student is unable to reach the faculty member within a two-week period, the student should contact the departmental secretary or administrative assistant to facilitate a meeting.
    • Step 2: If the concern or grade grievance cannot be resolved with the faculty, the student can raise the issue to the department chair or program director. When requesting the meeting, the student must state via e-mail or in writing the reasons why s/he feels the grade or situation was unfair or inequitable, noting evidence to support her/his argument.
    • Step 3: If the problem remains unresolved, the student can complete the on-line complaint form  after appeals have been made to faculty and department chairs/directors.
      • Your grievance will be raised to the Assistant Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Yolanda Alvarez.
    • Step 4: Schedule an appointment to meet with the Assistant Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ms. Yolanda Alvarez,, to discuss your claim and provide evidence to support your argument. Students typically bring copies of e-mails, papers, and projects to validate the claim. The department chair and faculty perspective will be solicited. The assistant dean will review the data, grievance and strive to resolve it informally.
      • Should the matter remain unresolved, the Dean will notify the Provost’s Office of the academic concern and forward all materials to the Provost for review. The Provost will make a determination and inform the Dean and the student. This is the highest level of the process.

Have additional questions? Contact Ms. Yolanda Alvarez, Assistant Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, e-mail -