A. Goals and Objectives
1. To ensure for every student who feels aggrieved a formal procedure to guarantee due process.
2. To ensure equitable treatment for all parties concerned and protect the rights of individuals.
3. To ensure academic freedom as well as academic quality.
4. To ensure remedy within a reasonable period of time.
B. Informal Resolution Procedure
- It is the responsibility of any student wishing to pursue an academic grade grievance involving a faculty member to first discuss the matter privately with the professor involved. In the event that the student is unable to contact the professor within a two-week period, an appointment should be arranged through the departmental secretary for the first time available. The initiation of the student grade grievance must take place within three weeks from the beginning of the next regular (fall or spring) semester.
- Should the meeting fail to accomplish a resolution between the student and the faculty member, the student should arrange a private conference with the faculty member’s Chair. The Chair must notify, in writing, the faculty member involved that a meeting has been arranged between the Chair and the student. Following the conference with the student, the Chair must meet privately with the faculty member to discuss the problem and attempt to resolve the conflict.
- Should the grievance still not be resolved, it must be reported to the Dean of the College/School. The Dean should attempt to resolve the problem informally, meeting separately or jointly with the individuals involved. The Dean should prepare a written evaluative statement concerning the student-faculty conflict. All concerned parties must receive a copy of the Dean’s statement within eight weeks from the beginning of the regular (fall or spring) semester.
- If the conflict is still not resolved, the Dean of the College/School must notify the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs in writing of the unresolved grievance and must forward all paperwork to the Associate VPAA within one week of the issuance of the Dean’s statement. Both parties to the grievance must be apprised of this action. The Associate VPAA shall decide whether a formal grievance is warranted. If a formal grievance is deemed warranted, a grievance committee must be convened.
C. Formal Resolution Procedure
1. Grievance Committee
(a) The Grievance Committee shall be composed of one faculty member from each College/School, appointed by the Dean of that College/School, two students selected by the SGA, and the Dean of Students who will chair the committee while retaining voting rights. The Grievance Committee must be convened within two weeks after receipt of the paperwork from the Dean of the College/School.
(b) A new committee will be selected each year.
(c) The bargaining agent of the faculty member involved may appoint one representative to be present during committee deliberations. The aggrieved student may also bring an advisor to the proceedings.
(d) If any committee member has a direct personal or professional relationship with any individual(s) involved in a particular case, the committee member must disqualify him/herself from serving on the committee while the case is being heard. If the impartiality of a committee member is questioned, the committee itself must reach a decision as to the continuance of the individual so questioned. If a member is disqualified, another individual from the same constituency shall be appointed to serve in his or her place.
2. Grievance Committee Procedure
(a) The Grievance Committee will hold hearings in two steps. In the first step the complainant will present the relevant charges and the complainant and the individual charged will present relevant evidence in support of their respective positions and ask questions of the other party. In the second step members of the Grievance Committee only will deliberate leading to a recommendation to be forwarded to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
(b) In advance of the hearing, the Chair of the Grade Grievance Committee shall notify the grievant, the individual charged with the unfair practice and the members of the committee of the time and place of the hearing, specification(s) of the complaint, composition of the committee and the right of the individual charged to be accompanied by an advisor. The advisors to the student and faculty member may be present when charges and evidence are presented to the committee.
(c) At any hearing, all parties with the exception of advisors may question witnesses.
(d) All committee hearings shall be confidential; witnesses shall be excluded except for the period of their questioning.
(e) The report and recommendation of the committee shall be in writing, including the committee’s rationale for its decision and any dissenting opinion(s). Only those committee members who have heard all testimony and evidence in a given case may vote on a committee’s recommendation. Class schedules of students and faculty members must be accommodated when setting committee meetings.
(f) If the committee finds in favor of the student, the committee’s report and recommendation shall be forwarded to the Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University after completion of the hearing, and copies shall be provided to all parties of the complaint. If the committee finds in favor of the faculty member and no appeal to the committee’s decision is filed within the specified time period, (see 3a below) the committee shall destroy all documents pertaining to that particular case.
3. Appeal Process
(a) If any parties to the complaint are not satisfied with the committee’s report and recommendation, they may request a meeting with the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Such a request must be filed within five (5) calendar days after receipt of the report.
(b) Such an appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs shall be based upon: a contention that committee procedure may have had a prejudicial effect on the outcome of the report and recommendation; the discovery of new information after the committee hearing which may have an effect on the outcome of the hearing; the belief that the committee recommendation was unsubstantiated by the evidence and documentation presented.
(c) The Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University shall weigh all evidence and recommendations and render a final written determination of the matter. All parties to the grievance must receive copies of the Vice President’s recommendation.
(d) If the Vice President is in agreement with the committee’s findings in favor of the faculty member, the Vice President must destroy all documents pertaining to that case. If, however, the Vice President for Academic Affairs finds in favor of the student, a recommendation for change of grade should be made by the Vice President to the faculty member. A copy of this recommendation should go to the Chair of the Department, the Dean of the College/School, and the Dean of Students. All procedural actions must be completed within the semester they are initiated.
(e) Department Chairs, Deans, Vice Presidents, etc. should not attempt to discuss or resolve any grade grievance unless the above procedure has been faithfully adhered to.
NOTE: No individual involved in the appeal process should hear, initiate, or attempt to resolve a grade grievance unless the Grade Grievance Procedure, obtainable at Department Chair’s office or at the Office of the Dean of Students, has been properly followed.