PROV-019: Student Academic Grievance Policy

Date: 07/05/2012 Status: Final
Last Revised: 08/19/2015
Policy Type: Executive Vice President & Provost
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Provost
Applies To: Academic Division.
Table of Contents:

Policy Statement
Procedures

Reason for Policy:

The University has established a student academic grievance process so that students who wish to raise concerns about academic decisions may do so through a clearly defined process that ensures the decision is reviewed by at least one other school official/committee.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Academic Decision:

    A decision made by a faculty member or an individual acting in his/her official capacity at the University that affects a student’s academic standing or performance. Academic decisions include, but are not limited to, academic probation and suspension and denial of requests to return to the University before the end of the period of suspension as defined by the school. Academic decisions do not include decisions regarding admission to the University, transfer from one school to another within the University, admission to a particular major or program of study, decisions made by the Honor or Judiciary Committees, any grading decision or determination of grading criteria or course requirements (see “Grade Changes” in Related Information below), or allegations of professional misconduct unrelated to a student’s academic standing or performance.

Policy Statement:

An undergraduate, graduate, or professional student who believes that an academic decision violates the University’s or school’s academic policies and procedures may file an academic grievance with the appropriate department chair, unit head, or faculty committee. Students should consult the dean’s office of their school for guidance as to the appropriate point of contact for the initial appeal. This process is intended to remedy harm done to the grievant and not to impose punitive sanctions on University employees or other students. However, in some cases, a proposed corrective action may include a recommendation for disciplinary action to be taken toward a University employee or student. In such cases, the recommendation will be addressed under the appropriate University procedure.

The grievance must be filed by the student who is affected by the academic decision being contested; it may not be filed on the student’s behalf by another individual.

Before filing a grievance with the appropriate department chair, unit head, or faculty committee, the student should have attempted to resolve his or her concerns directly with the individual responsible for the challenged academic decision. These attempts should be sincere and substantial.

The grievance must specify:

  1. which academic policy or procedure has been violated;
  2. what efforts the student has made to resolve the concern informally; and
  3. the requested resolution.

It is the responsibility of the student filing the grievance to insure that the grievance includes all necessary supporting documentation at the time of submission.

For graduating students, a grievance must be filed in writing, according to the process defined above, before the degree is awarded in the Student Information System.

The grievance should be filed with the appropriate department chair, unit head, or faculty committee, who will adjudicate the case. If the appropriate department chair or unit head is a party to the case or is otherwise unable to serve, the grievance should be filed with the school’s appropriate associate dean or other official or committee as designated by the dean or the school’s policies.

The department chair, unit head, faculty committee, associate dean, or designated official will investigate the complaint. Investigation will include but is not limited to reviewing relevant documentation and meeting with the student and the faculty member or University official who made the decision being contested. Within thirty (30) calendar days after receiving the grievance, the individual or committee who adjudicates the case will communicate in writing his/ her decision to both the student and the faculty member or official.

Within five (5) calendar days after receiving the decision, the student may appeal to the dean or the dean’s designee, as specified in the school’s detailed grievance procedures, available in the school’s section of this Record. The only basis for appeal is documented evidence that adjudication of the grievance failed to comply with the procedural requirements of this policy. Dissatisfaction with the outcome of the grievance will not be grounds for appeal.

Within thirty (30) calendar days after receiving the appeal, the dean or the dean’s designee will consider the evidence and communicate in writing his/her decision to the student, the faculty member or official, and the department chair, unit head, associate dean, or designated official involved in the case. The decision of the dean or the dean’s designee will be final.

Upon conclusion of the grievance process, to ensure the University’s compliance with accreditation requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the school will provide the following information to the associate vice provost for academic accreditation:

  1. date on which the grievance was filed;
  2. individual who filed the grievance;
  3. individual against whom the grievance was filed;
  4. general nature of the grievance;
  5. outcome of the grievance; and,
  6. date of resolution.

This information will be retained in a secure and confidential location for two (2) years.

Complaints of discrimination or harassment, that is any complaint that the student has been subjected to discrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, or family medical or genetic information by the University, are not appropriate for review under the grievance procedure described in this policy and are handled under policy HRM-009, Preventing and Addressing Discrimination and Harassment (PADH), HRM-010, Preventing and Addressing Retaliation, and the related complaint procedures maintained by the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR).

Reports of sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence, stalking, or sexual or gender-based harassment are not appropriate for review under the grievance procedure described in this policy and are handled in accordance with policy HRM-041, Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence and its appendices.

Procedures:

Students wishing to file a grievance should consult the appropriate school section of the Undergraduate/Graduate Record and the dean’s office of their school for guidance as to the appropriate point of contact for the initial appeal.

Related Information:

Grade Changes” in the University’s Undergraduate/Graduate Record under University Academic Regulations, Grading System.

See also each school’s section of the Undergraduate/Graduate Record as to whether the school offers an appeal process specific to grades, exceptions to school rules, or academic suspension.

Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights Complaint Procedures

Major Category: Executive Vice President & Provost Policies
Next Scheduled Review: 08/19/2018
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Provost, 07/05/2012
Revision History: Updated 8/19/15.