The following procedure exists for the rare instance in which a student believes she has a legitimate grievance that her coursework has been evaluated in an unfair or capricious manner. In that case, no later than the end of the second full week of the following semester, the student should submit to the instructor a written request for an explanation of the grade. In the case of grade disputes, instructors are responsible for clearly articulating the criteria for determining students’ grades in the course syllabus and issuing grades according to that rubric. Grades are considered final once they are submitted to the Office of the Registrar, although an instructor may request a change in a grade if a computational or clerical error has been made.
Normally, within two weeks of receiving such a request, the instructor should meet with the student to discuss the grievance. If both parties deem a change is in order then the instructor will request it from the Administrative Board. If the instructor does not agree, however, and the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s explanation then the next step for the student is to take her original request and additional supporting materials to the appropriate department chair or program director. Supporting material should include a copy of the course syllabus and the student’s evidence for unfair or capricious action. Specifically the student needs to demonstrate that one or more of the following conditions pertained.
- The instructor used inappropriate criteria (e.g. in determining a final grade.)
- The instructor assigned a grade on some basis other than performance in the course.
- The instructor did not adhere to the procedures stated in the course syllabus (e.g. grading rubric.)
After consulting with the instructor and the student and reviewing the written evidence, if the appropriate department chair or program director finds legitimate cause for the complaint then s/he will try to work with both the student and the instructor toward finding an equitable solution. However, if the appropriate chair or program director concludes that there is no cause for the complaint, if there is disagreement between the chair/director and the instructor, or if the instructor is also the chair or program director, then the student can appeal the case to the Associate Dean of the Faculty. At that point the instructor’s explanation for the grade should also be in the form of a written statement. Reviewing all written materials and working with all parties involved the Associate Dean will make the final determination on the dispute.
The procedures outlined above apply to most forms of academic grievance. However, students advancing claims of discrimination under Title VI, VII, or IX should consult the Office on Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity and follow the corresponding process.
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