Grievance and Policy Procedural Appeals

The student has the right to appeal any requirement or rule established by the College of Education. Procedures for appealing such policies, as well as graduate student grievances, are generally the same. The Student Code contains a complete list of policies and regulations pertaining to students.

Graduate Student Grievance Procedures at the College of Education

I. INTRODUCTION

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 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.

Student allegations of capricious grading or evaluation, or charges of academic dishonesty suchas plagiarism or improper attribution or citation that cannot be resolved at the departmental level,will be heard by the College of Education Grievance Committee, with procedures to follow asoutlined in Article 3 of the Student Code (College of Education Grievance Policy andProcedures, May 26, 2016)Student allegations of capricious grading or evaluation, or charges of academic dishonesty such as plagiarism or improper attribution or citation that cannot be resolved at the departmental level, will be heard by the College of Education Grievance Committee, with procedures to follow as outlined in Article 3 of the Student Code (College of Education Grievance Policy and Procedures, May 26, 2016).  Student allegations of capricious grading or evaluation, or charges of academic dishonesty suchas plagiarism or improper attribution or citation that cannot be resolved at the departmental level,will be heard by the College of Education Grievance Committee, with procedures to follow asoutlined in Article 3 of the Student Code (College of Education Grievance Policy andProcedures, May 26, 2016)

II. SCOPE AND COVERAGE 

Definition of a Grievance

A grievance may arise when a graduate student believes that his/her status as a graduate student, or university appointment based on student status, has been adversely affected by an incorrect or inappropriate decision or behavior. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Inappropriate application of a department, College, or University policy;
  2. Being unfairly assessed on a preliminary committee;
  3. Being required to engage in excessive effort on assistantships;
  4. Being improperly terminated from student-based University appointment (teaching or research assistantships, etc.);
  5. Being improperly terminated from a program;
  6. Being required to perform personal services unrelated to academic or assistantship duties;
  7. Being required to meet unreasonable requirements for a graduate degree that extend the normal requirements established by the campus or by the department/College and are inconsistent with the scholarly standards in the discipline;
  8. Being the subject of retaliation for exercising his/her rights under this policy; or
  9. Being the subject of professional misconduct by a student’s graduate supervisor or other faculty or staff member.

Practices or actions by a student’s supervisor, other faculty member, or other member of the University community that seriously deviate from ethical or responsible professional standards in the supervision of graduate student work may constitute professional misconduct in violation of University policy.

III. INFORMAL PROCEDURES

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.

IV. FORMAL PROCEDURES

Identification of the Grievance Committee

The College of Education Grievance Committee shall be comprised annually of three elected tenure-track faculty; one elected member of the specialized faculty ranks; and two graduate students elected by enrolled graduate students. 

The Chair of the Grievance Committee will be the tenure-track faculty member who receives the highest number of votes. The Chair is responsible for notifying an alternate if there is a conflict of interest on the committee and assuring that a record of the committee deliberations, investigations, hearings, and recommendation(s) is forwarded to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs.  

Procedures

  1. 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. The written grievance should indicate the details of the matter (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), provide relevant supporting documentation, outline all informal and formal attempts to resolve the grievance at the departmental level, and specify the remedy sought.
  2. Within 5 business days, the students' written statement will be transmitted to the Chair of the Grievance Committee.
  3. The Grievance Committee will review the statement and determine if any conflict of interest exists with any committee members. Within 10 business days (2 weeks) of receiving the written statement, the Chair will convene a meeting of the Grievance Committee to review the statement, and to determine whether the Grievance Committee has jurisdiction over the matter. If it is determined that the Grievance Committee does not have jurisdiction, the grievant will be advised of other campus policies and procedures to resolve the matter.
  4. If the Grievance Committee determines that they have jurisdiction, they will respond to the grievant outlining the process for investigation, determining what evidence is needed, and establishing a time to meet with the parties. The primary parties involved shall receive a copy of the written statement. All hearings between the primary parties will take place when both are available, taking place within 10 business days to attempt to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. If this is not possible, the Grievance Committee will provide a rationale and request a reasonable extension from the Associate Dean for Academic Programs.
  5. If the Grievance Committee determines they do not have jurisdiction over the matter, they will so notify the Associate Dean for Academic Programs, who will inform the grievant and refer them to the appropriate office or procedure to pursue resolution.
  6. Within 6 weeks of the submission of the original grievance, the chair of the Grievance Committee will report its recommendations in writing to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs. The Associate Dean will share the report with the Dean, who will make the final decision. The Associate Dean will communicate the Dean's decision to the involved individuals, along with appropriate channels to pursue an appeal, if necessary.
  7. Appeals may be made to the Graduate College as specified in the Graduate College grievance policy. This process must be initiated within sixty (60) business days of the decision or behavior resulting in the grievance.
  8. Retention of the committee's records will be maintained in the Dean's Office in accordance with campus and College record retention policies. A report of the nature of the grievance and the primary involved parties shall be forwarded to the Graduate College. 

V. GENERAL PROVISIONS

Coverage

This policy and these procedures apply to all graduate students as well as to former graduate students who have graduated in the preceding 5 years. Graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in classes in the College or working as a graduate assistant within the College may file a complaint regardless of the program in which the student is enrolled.

Oversight Authority and Responsibility

The Associate Dean for Academic Programs will be the first point of contact for submission of any written complaint. As the primary intake officer, the Associate Dean will ensure that all potential grievances are handled according to these procedures and in an expeditious and timely manner.

Confidentiality

All deliberations of the Grievance Committee are confidential. Committee minutes and records will be considered confidential and open to inspection only as required by law.

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

  1. 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.

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. The Chair of the Grievance Committee is responsible for notifying an alternate if there is a conflict of interest on the committee. In the event that the Associate Dean for Academic Programs has a potential conflict of interest with a grievance, the Associate Dean for Research will oversee the grievance process. 

Timeliness and Procedural Changes

All procedures prescribed in this document should be conducted expeditiously.

Withdrawal of a Grievance

The grievance committee will suspend the investigation of a complaint upon request of the grievant. 

Malicious Charges

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 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.