All members of the University community are expected to observe high standards of professional conduct and ethical behavior in graduate education and in the supervision of graduate research and teaching (Guiding Standards for Faculty Supervision of Graduate Students, March 31, 1997). In a large and heterogeneous scholarly community however, problems arise. Thus the University articulates its policies and provides effective informal and formal procedures for resolving these problems involving graduate students. (The policies and procedures described in this document do not override or supersede any other policies as established in the University statutes and campus policies. For more information, see the Graduate College Handbook.)
The purpose of this policy is to protect the interests of graduate students in the College of Education by providing informal and formal means of seeking resolution in case of an inappropriate action of a member of the faculty or administrative staff or an inappropriate application of a department or college policy. Any graduate student in the College of Education may informally pursue or formally file a grievance when he/she believes that a decision or behavior adversely affects his/her status as a graduate student.
This Policy and Procedures on Grievances by Graduate Students in the College of Education specifies the policy and describes the procedures to be employed to resolve grievances by graduate students in this College. It was approved by the Graduate College on May 19, 2000. This policy does not apply in cases of academic misconduct. Breaches of academic integrity in research and publication are handled under the campus's Policy and Procedures on Integrity in Research and Publication. Similarly, this policy does not apply to cases that arise under the Student Code (“CODE”), such as capricious grading in a course (Section 26) or academic integrity (Section 33).
University policy strongly encourages all students who believe they have a grievance to use all appropriate avenues for informal resolution before initiating a formal grievance. Students in Education are encouraged to discuss the issue with the faculty or staff member with whom the problem has arisen. If a satisfactory solution is not forthcoming, the student should discuss the issue with his or her advisor, the departmental director of graduate studies, the head/chair of the department and/or the Associate Dean for Academic Programs, who shall attempt to find a resolution acceptable to both parties. Students are strongly encouraged to pursue informal procedures that have been established at the departmental levels to resolve any conflicts before pursuing formal procedures at the college level. The student may also consult with the Graduate College, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Ombuds Office, the Office of International Student and Scholars Services, or other sources.
Identification of the Grievance Committee
The faculty shall elect annually three members of the College of Education faculty, and graduate students shall annually elect two graduate students to serve on a College Grievance Committee. The faculty member and graduate student receiving the next highest number of votes shall be designated as alternates to serve in case an elected member cannot serve or is determined to have a conflict of interest. In the event of further vacancies, the Associate Dean for Academic Programs shall appoint appropriate replacements. Any other conflicts shall be referred to the Associate Dean.
The committee shall elect a chair from among its members. The chair is responsible for assuring that a record of the committee’s investigations, deliberations, and recommendations is forwarded to the Associate Dean.
- A student in the College of Education may file a formal grievance with either the College of Education Associate Dean for Academic Programs or directly with the Graduate College. A formal grievance should be filed promptly and must be filed in writing within 180 days of the decision or behavior resulting in the grievance, regardless of whether the college procedure or Graduate College procedure is used. The written grievance should indicate: the parties involved; the action or decision being contested; any applicable university, campus or unit policy; an explanation of why the action or decision is inappropriate; and, the remedy sought.
- The Associate Dean for Academic Programs shall define the subject matter and scope of the issues related to the grievance in a written charge to the grievance committee. The primary involved parties shall receive a copy of the charge.
- Any participant to the grievance may challenge any member of the grievance committee if there is a perceived conflict of interest. The challenge should be made in writing to the College of Education Associate Dean for Academic Programs. If the objection is prompt and reasonable, the Associate Dean shall replace the person with one who meets the stated criteria. The decision of the Associate Dean as to whether the challenge is prompt and reasonable, and to the acceptability of the replacement selected, may be a basis for appeal of the grievance committee’s recommendation.
- The grievance committee’s investigation shall include a review of written materials presented. In addition, the committee will seek information from the primary involved parties in writing or in person. During a hearing, each of the primary involved parties may make a brief opening statement, and then respond to questions from the committee. The primary involved parties may not question each other directly, but may pose questions through the committee chair. At the end of the hearing, each primary involved party may make a closing statement.
- Within 30 calendar days of the filing of the grievance, the chair of the grievance committee shall report its recommendations in writing to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs. The Associate Dean may grant an extension of the time limit for good cause. The grievance committee’s report shall contain:
- A summary of the grievant’s contentions and relief sought;
- The response of the individual or college/department against whom/which the grievance was filed;
- A general description of the investigative process;
- A citation of relevant policies;
- An explicit finding of fact based on the preponderance of the evidence with respect to each grievance included in the grievance committee’s charge;
- A listing of the evidence relevant to each finding;
- An indication of whether there was a reasonable basis in fact and honest belief for the allegations in the investigated grievance;
- A recommendation of appropriate redress for the grievant(s); and,
- Any recommended changes in policies and procedures to minimize the probability of recurrence.
- Within 7 calendar days of receipt of the committee’s report, the Associate Dean for Academic Programs shall determine the disposition of the case and communicate the decision to the primary involved individuals.
If the Associate Dean determines that the grievance has not been proved or has no merit, the Associate Dean will notify all involved parties and all persons who have been interviewed or otherwise informed that grievance has been dismissed.
If the Associate Dean concurs with the committee’s conclusion that the grievance has been sustained and has merit, the Associate Dean will proceed in accordance with the university statutes and relevant university rules and regulations. The Associate Dean may, after consultation with appropriate campus officers, prescribe redress for the grievant. In addition, the Associate Dean may initiate modifications of department or college policies or procedures. The Associate Dean shall notify the relevant primary involved individuals (grievant, respondent, grievance committee members) of actions taken.
- Within 10 calendar days of receipt of written notification of the Associate Dean for Academic Programs’ determination, appeals may be made to the Graduate College as specified in the Graduate College grievance policy. This appeal can be based only upon demonstrated specific deficiencies in the application of this college’s grievance procedure to the student’s grievance.
- After completion of a grievance review and all ensuing related actions, the Associate Dean for Academic Programs shall return all original documents and materials to the persons who furnished them. The Associate Dean shall destroy the grievance file on a date 5 years beyond the grievant’s time limit for completion of the degree. A report of the nature of the grievance and the primary involved parties shall be forwarded to the Graduate College.
This policy and these procedures apply to all graduate students and members of the academic and administrative staffs in the College of Education. This policy also applies to former graduate students, provided they meet the timeliness requirements specified in the procedures above.
Oversight Authority and Responsibility
- The Associate Dean for Academic Programs has responsibility, under the policies and procedures of the Graduate College, for the management of College of Education graduate programs and related policies and procedures.
- The Associate Dean for Academic Programs shall have the primary responsibility for administering the campus procedures detailed herein. All information and items furnished will be made available to the grievance committee. During the course of an investigation, the Associate Dean will provide information about the status of proceedings to the primary involved individuals. Subsequent to the grievance committee’s reporting, the Associate Dean will maintain a file of all documents and evidence, and is responsible for the confidentiality and the security of the file. The Associate Dean shall make the complete file available to the Dean of the Graduate College and on the appeal of a grievance outcome to the Graduate College.
All persons involved in administering these procedures will make diligent efforts to protect the reputations, privacy, and positions of all involved persons. These persons include those who file grievances, persons who are alleged in a grievance to have taken inappropriate actions or activities, and college/department administrators. All of the procedures and the identity of those involved should be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law. However, confidentiality regarding information other than the identity of the grievant need not be maintained if the grievance is found to be false and in particular if dissemination is necessary to protect the reputation of individuals or units falsely accused. Making public the fact that a grievance has been deemed false or unproved is not considered retaliation against the grievant. Protection of confidentiality does not preclude disclosures necessary to redress actions leading to a grievance.
Standards of Evidence
The grievance committee’s decision shall be made on the “preponderance of evidence” standard. Any finding against an individual or department on the subject of the grievance must be supported by a preponderance of the evidence.
Academic Freedoms and Rights of the Parties
- It shall be a prime concern of all persons who implement this policy and these procedures to protect the academic freedoms fundamental to the academic enterprise. Among other things, this includes the professional judgments of student performance that are an essential part of the graduate education process. Academic freedom, however, affords no license for the mistreatment of graduate students.
- The rights of the primary involved individuals shall be specified in the form of a written notice or letter from the Associate Dean for Academic Programs. The primary involved individuals have the following rights:
- To receive notice of the identity of the members of the grievance committee;
- To receive a written statement of the charge including the subject matter being considered by the grievance committee. If additional information emerges during the committee’s evaluation that substantially changes the subject matter, the parties shall be informed promptly in writing
- To submit statements in writing and to meet with the committee to present information;
- To consult private legal counsel, or another person who may provide advice at the meeting with the committee. Prior notice of the absence of an advisor must be given and any other primary involved party may request a delay of up to 5 calendar days to arrange for the presence of an advisor; and,
- To review and respond to the grievance committee’s final report.
- Any of the parties responsible for the implementation of this policy may consult University Legal Counsel at any time during the informal processing of a grievance.
Conflict of Interest
A conflict of interest is a significant professional or personal involvement with the facts or the parties to a dispute. Any participant, who has a conflict of interest in a dispute under this procedure, or a concern about a conflict on the part of another, shall report it to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs who shall take appropriate action. If the Associate Dean has such a conflict, the Associate Dean will inform the Dean of the Graduate College who will, in consultation with the Dean of the College of Education, decide how to address the situation.
Timeliness and Procedural Changes
All procedures prescribed in this document should be conducted expeditiously. The Associate Dean for Academic Programs with good cause may extend any of the time periods and may make other reasonable alterations of these procedures, provided that the alteration does not impair the ability of a grievant to pursue a grievance or the respondent(s) named in the grievance to defend him/herself. Any alterations of these procedures must be communicated to all pertinent parties.
Withdrawal of a Grievance
The grievant may submit a written request to withdraw the grievance at any time. The Associate Dean for Academic Programs shall decide whether to approve the request. A request to withdraw shall be approved only if both parties to the action agree to terminate the proceedings. If the withdrawal request is approved, the Associate Dean shall notify the primary involved parties and the files shall be destroyed. If the withdrawal request is denied, the grievance shall continue to be processed to a conclusion according to the above procedures.
Termination of University Employment
After the initiation of grievance procedures under this policy, the grievance proceedings will not automatically terminate due to the termination of university employment, by resignation or otherwise, of any of the primary involved individuals in the grievance.
Bringing unfounded charges in bad faith is a violation of this and the Graduate College grievance policy. If the grievance committee determines that the allegation(s) in the grievance or the testimony of any person was unfounded and motivated by bad faith, that finding shall be communicated by the Associate Dean for Academic Programs to the Dean of the Graduate College and the Dean of the academic college. After consultation with the Provost, the deans may inform the Associate Dean of such a finding. Such a finding may be the basis for disciplinary action or other personnel decisions in accordance with University rules and regulations.
University policy strongly encourages all students who believe they have a grievance to use all appropriate avenues for informal resolution before initiating a formal grievance. Students in Education are encouraged to discuss the issue with the faculty or staff member with whom the problem has arisen. If a satisfactory solution is not forthcoming, the student should discuss the issue with his or her adviser, the departmental director of graduate studies, the head/chair of the department and/or the Associate Dean for Academic Programs, who shall attempt to find a resolution acceptable to both parties. Students are strongly encouraged to pursue informal procedures that have been established at the departmental levels to resolve any conflicts before pursuing formal procedures at the college level. The student may also consult with the Graduate College, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Ombuds Office, the Office of International Student and Scholars Services, or other sources.