University Grievance Policy

The right of each student to resolve grievances with the university is affirmed, and specific appeal procedures are hereby established to ensure timely and appropriate consideration of each grievance. Student grievances generally originate at the department level, and the resolution of the grievance is sought at the department level. The exceptions to this procedure are the grade review procedure, appeals originating in the Student Judicial Council and the Office of the Dean of Students, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as amended of 1974.

Instructions regarding the grievance procedure will be available to students at the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Student Government Association office and the Graduate School. A student grievance originating in any of the departmental or administrative units is handled by the department chair or director responsible for the unit in which the grievance originates. The grievance should be made known in writing within 15 days of the occurrence. The decision by the department chair or director should normally be made by the filing of the grievance (Step 1).

The appeal by a student of the decision of the department chair or director must be made in writing within five working days to either the dean exercising jurisdiction over that academic department or to the administrative official having jurisdiction over the nonacademic department involved. This official will render a decision on the grievance in writing (Step 2).

Should the student desire to make further appeal, the written appeal should be directed to the Office of the Provost (for academic issues), the Graduate School (if student is a graduate student for academic issues) or to the appropriate vice president exercising jurisdiction over the matter. The associate provost or vice president, or dean of Graduate School, shall confer with the student, and if the grievance is not resolved, the associate provost or vice president, or dean of Graduate School, shall refer the matter to a standing committee or appoint a committee of three to five persons, including student representation, to hold an official hearing on the matter. The student may either represent himself or herself or request the assistance of another student. The hearing shall be held within 10 days of receipt of the grievance by the associate provost or vice president, or dean of Graduate School (Step 3).

Upon completion of the hearing, the committee will inform the associate provost or the vice president, or dean of Graduate School, of the decision, and the associate provost or the vice president will inform the student in writing. The associate provost or the vice president may utilize the decision of the committee or amend the decision as deemed appropriate (Step 4).

If the student is not satisfied with the decision indicated in step 4, he or she may appeal to the president of the university in writing. The president shall render a final decision in the case normally within 10 days of the written receipt of the appeal (Step 5).

For additional information regarding FERPA and the right to amend possible inaccuracies of student records, contact the Office of the Registrar.

Student Grievance Process

Step 1: Department chair or director of nonacademic area

Step 2: Dean or administrative official

Step 3:  

      A. Undergraduate students - vice president calls a hearing

      B. Graduate students - Graduate Studies office calls a hearing

Step 4: Vice president makes decision based on hearing

Appeal Procedures

Informal Resolution of a Student Grievance

The first step in dealing with most complaints is generally to discuss the issue with the university faculty or staff individual who is most involved with the issue. Except for the exceptions noted above, if that discussion is not satisfactory, a student should try to discuss the matter with that person’s immediate supervisor (e.g., chair of an academic department, the director of a university service office, etc.).

Formal Resolution of a Student Grievance

In those instances where an informal process is not applicable or where that the result of that process is unsatisfactory, then the student needs to follow the procedures, which require the submission of a written complaint:

• Grade appeal

• Admissions appeal

• Tuition refund appeal

• Financial aid suspension appeal

• Academic status appeal

• Scholarship cancellation appeal

• Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as amended of 1974

• Parking ticket or traffic citation appeal

• Residence Life housing contract appeal

• Student Code of Conduct violation appeal

• Discrimination or harassment complaints(except for harassment or discrimination related to sexual misconduct which use the procedures set forth in www.usm.edu/institutional-policies/policy-pres-aa-001 and www.usm.edu/institutional-policies/policy-pres-aa-002. See also www.usm.edu/sexual-misconduct.)

• Violations of University Policies Reporting Hotline

• Other complaints – See University Grievance Policy.