Academic Appeals and Grievances

Sometimes students have concerns about their classes, professors, and/or grades and seek a response or remedy regarding those concerns. It is important to distinguish between three possible scenarios for complaints and their resolution.

 

Complaints about Classes and/or Professors

Sometimes students may think there was something problematic about a class, professor, or grade that merits making a complaint about it to the appropriate person. In such cases, the proper course of action is for the student to talk with the professor about his/her concerns. If that does not resolve the situation or if the student is too uncomfortable to talk with the professor, the student should talk with the chair of the department.  Following the chair, any unresolved concerns should be brought to the attention of the college dean.

Students should be mindful that faculty members have the authority to determine the organization of their courses and to set appropriate standards for student work and accountability. Disliking a professor’s choices does not automatically merit a grievance. In the event that a class situation is extreme and detrimental to the learning enterprise, however, students have the right to raise their concerns and seek that the problems be addressed.

 

Appeals for Academic Integrity Violations

Students who are found to have violated the Academic Integrity Policy of the institution will likely receive an academic sanction, such as an F for the test assignment, a grade of zero for the test or assignment, or an XF for the course. Definitions of academic misconduct and possible sanctions can be found in the policy or via the Provost’s Academic Integrity webpage.

If a student is given a penalty for academic misconduct, he or she has the right to appeal that penalty to the Academic Integrity Appeals Board. The appeal may be launched immediately after receiving it, whether the semester has concluded or not. To file an appeal for an academic misconduct penalty, begin by completing the Academic Integrity Appeals Form and gathering appropriate materials before moving it through the next steps in the process (see form).

Appeals will be heard by a five-person Academic Integrity Appeals Board who will determine if the penalty was appropriately applied or not. If the Board determines that the penalty was given inappropriately, the student’s grade will be changed to an Incomplete and he/she will be allowed to re-do the work in question.

Students have a limited time frame to file an appeal. Materials must be submitted to the Office of the Provost within 30 business days of the beginning of the semester subsequent to the one in which the grade was awarded, or 120 calendar days after the issuance of spring semester grades, should the student not be enrolled during the summer term. This process should only be used to appeal penalties for academic misconduct that violates the Academic Integrity Policy of the University.

 

Grade Appeals for Other Reasons

Students who believe that the grade they have been given in a course was the result of “arbitrary” or “capricious” behavior on the part of the faculty member can appeal their grade to the Grade Review Council.  The Council does not hear appeals based on instructor grading that is seen as too harsh or course requirements that are seen as excessive. The Grade Review Council only hears appeals in which the student believes that the faculty member has given grades in a haphazard, illogical, erratic, inconsistent, and/or unpredictable fashion. For example, if an instructor allows students to make up exams for medical excuses but does not allow one student to do so, which impacts his/her grade, the student might consider a grade appeal.

Students who believe their claim meets these criteria should first talk with the instructor to try to resolve the situation. After that, if a student decides to pursue a grade appeal, he or she should follow the instructions on the Provost's Grade Appeal webpage, beginning by signing a log in the Office of the Provost. Students have a limited time frame to file a Grade Review appeal. Upon submitting all required materials, the Grade Review Council will then review them to determine if the case should be heard.

This process should only be used to appeal grades believed to be assigned in an arbitrary or capricious way, not for cases involving academic integrity violations and penalties (see above).