Graduate Student Handbook

2.5 Grievance Procedures

The College of Public Health has a process in place for reviewing student complaints after efforts between the parties involved to address the concerns have proved unsuccessful. These procedures provide students with avenues for informally resolving complaints and for seeking formal redress if efforts of mediation fail. The Graduate School also has an established grievance procedure for certain situations (Appendix D of the GSH). Before formal procedures are involved, it is strongly recommended that every effort be made by all parties to resolved differences informally. The Director or Assistant Director in the Office of Academic Programs and Student Services is available to support students in their discussions at this stage. Students are encouraged to schedule an appointment to discuss their concerns and options for resolution.

Procedures and remedies at the division level should be exhausted before appealing the case at the College level. Sources for grievances include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • All aspects of the degree involving grading and evaluation
  • Unjustified denial of student access to data or inappropriate use of student data
  • Professional misconduct toward students
  • Unfair, discriminatory, or intimidating treatment of students

Initial jurisdiction over grade grievance lies within the divisions. Grades are a matter of academic judgment and subject to challenge only on the basis of non-academic criteria, such as considerations of race, politics, religion, sex, or other criteria not directly reflective or performance related to course requirements of improper academic procedures that unfairly affect a student’s grade. Students with grade grievances should discuss their concerns first with the professor of record (graduate teaching assistants in the College of Public Health do not assign grades). If the student feels that the problem is not resolved satisfactorily, then the concern should be brought to the attention of the Division Chair for review. It is the policy of the university that grievances concerning grades may only be considered if the basis for the grievance is procedural (i.e. that a procedural error was made in the evaluation or recording of the grade). Grades are never modified using any criteria not applied to all students in the class. The alteration of grades is governed by the Board of Trustees (Rule 3335-8-23).

If informal procedures fail to settle the matter, the student may initiate a formal grievance process by submitting a written statement to the Senior Associate Dean. This written statement should describe the nature of the complaint, the facts which support the complaint, and the efforts made to resolve the complaint with the parties involved. The statement must be submitted within 60 days after the alleged cause for the grievance occurred.

The Senior Associate Dean will review the allegations in the complaint and ask the other party to provide a written response. When appropriate, the Senior Associate Dean will ask for input from the Division Chair/Program Director or the Dean of the College of Public Health. Some grievances may be resolved at this stage through a process of counseling and evaluation. Accurate assessment and mutual solution are the goals. The Senior Associate Dean will discuss the matter with the complainant and with the respondent and advise the student of their options:

a)      Taking no action (sometimes discussion with a third party is the goal);

b)      Conversation between the complainant and the respondent with the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs serving as an intermediary in an effort to mediate the concerns;

c)       Request for formal grievance hearing if mediation fails.

Formal Grievance Procedures

If mediation fails, the student may seek a formal grievance hearing. The written request will be forwarded to the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) Chair for review. Upon receipt of the complaint, the GSC Chair will appoint a hearing panel of two GSC faculty representatives, two GSC student representatives, and one faculty member from outside the College of Public Health. The GSC Chair and the hearing panel will meet with the complainant and the respondent and review any documentary evidence provided. Both the complainant and the respondent will be given copies of any documentary evidence provided by the other party. The committee may also obtain relevant information from other persons. At the conclusion of the hearing, the committee will submit to the dean its findings, a recommendation concerning the merits of the complaint and, if the complaint is judged to have merit, a proposed resolution.

After reviewing the recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee, the Dean may:

a)      Dismiss the complaint;

b)      Uphold the committee’s recommendation and proposed resolution;

c)       Uphold the committee’s resolution with what would reasonably be interpreted as an equivalent, but alternative, resolution.

All aspects of an investigation of a student grievance will remain confidential. Upon the conclusion of all deliberations, the decision will be reported in writing to the student and the respondent. A written record of the circumstances and resolution of the grievance will be kept for four (4) years in the Office of Academic Programs and Student Services.