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Academic Affairs

Grievances against a Faculty Member

The process below is being reviewed to make it more accessible to Distance Education Students. If you are a distance education student and need to file a grievance, contact the Provost’s Office for assistance.

The purpose of the Student Grievance Procedure is to provide a standardized, formal process for seeking a resolution when, in the student’s judgment, he/she has been treated unfairly or improperly. Students seeking redress of grievances may do so without fear of reprisal. All written communications with the student in the grievance procedure must be delivered either in person, with a signed and dated acknowledgement of receipt or by certified mail.

Unfair or improper treatment of a student by a faculty/staff member is defined as:

• An instructor’s failure to abide by stated University policies or state law or an instructor’s failure to abide by written or stated course requirements.

• An instructor’s prejudiced or capricious evaluation practices which result in grades being assigned based on factors other than the student’s performance on course work. The procedures in this policy do not extend to matters of grading student work where the substance of a complaint is based on the student’s disagreement with the grade assigned to the student’s work in partial or complete fulfillment of the course. Such matters may be discussed by the student and the faculty member; however, the final decision regarding the grade assignment rests with the faculty member.

• Discrimination against students by faculty in academic or nonacademic matters for reasons of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, genetic information, disability or disabled veteran status.

• Improper personal or professional behavior by a faculty member excluding charges of sexual misconduct, which are addressed by the Sexual Harassment Policy.

In addition to sexual harassment, the following issues cannot be addressed using this grievance procedure: Student Code of Conduct violation decisions, housing appeals decisions, residency classification decisions, traffic appeals decisions, disability grievances or any other type of decisions where a clearly defined complaint review process exists. Grievance Procedures All student grievances must follow the steps outlined below and meet all time requirements. If at any point during the grievance process, someone fails to act within the requisite number of days, the principal parties in the grievance may appeal to the next step. Changes in the time requirements may be made if both parties involved in the grievance agree. At any time during the grievance process, the student may request the assistance of a Judicial Procedures Advisor** to assist with the process. The Judicial Procedures Advisor will be assigned by the Office of the Provost.

Step 1. If a student believes that he or she has been treated unfairly or improperly by a faculty member, the student must schedule a meeting with the faculty member to discuss the matter within five (5) class days of the incident/situation in question. The faculty member must agree to meet with the student within three (3) class days of the request. The student must explain his or her position to the faculty member and attempt to understand the justification for the faculty member’s actions. The purpose of this meeting is to attempt to reach an understanding and to resolve all differences in an informal, cooperative manner.

Step 2. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of this informal meeting, the student must submit a written request for a formal meeting with the faculty member’s immediate supervisor (usually the department chair) to discuss the student’s complaint. The written request must be submitted within three (3) class days of the student’s meeting with the faculty member and should include the name of the faculty member whom the student is submitting a complaint against, a brief explanation of the complaint and the action taken thus far (in Step 1). If the subject of the complaint is a faculty member in the College of Business, or if the subject of the complaint is a department chair, the student will follow Step 3. The supervisor must meet with the student, interview the faculty member against whom the complaint is being made, and deliver a written response to both parties within three (3) class days of receipt of the student’s request.

Step 3. If the student is not satisfied with the department chair’s decision, the student must submit a written request for a formal meeting with the dean of the college to discuss the student’s complaint. The written request must be submitted within three (3) class days of the written notification to the student of the department chair’s decision and should include the name of the faculty member whom the student is submitting a complaint against, a brief explanation of the complaint and the action taken thus far (in Step 1 and, if relevant, Step 2). The dean must meet with the student and review the decisions made by the faculty member and the department chair and deliver a written decision to all parties within three (3) class days of receipt of the student’s request. The decision must include notice of the student’s right to file a formal written grievance with the Provost.

Step 4. If the student is not satisfied with the dean’s decision, the student must notify the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The student will be assigned a Judicial Procedures Advisor (if one has not previously been assigned) who will meet with the student within three (3) class days. The student has three (3) class days from the meeting with the Judicial Procedures Advisor in which to file a written grievance either by certified mail or hand delivered to the Provost. The written grievance should specifically state the grounds for the grievance and provide a detailed summary of the charges and dates/times of pertinent events, including the actions the student has taken thus far to resolve the complaint.

Step 5. Within five (5) class days of the receipt of the student’s written grievance, the Provost will schedule a grievance hearing that must include all parties directly involved with the grievance. The hearing will be recorded. All hearings are closed unless the student or the faculty member against whom the complaint is made requests in writing to the Provost that the meeting be open. The Provost will rule on the request for an open meeting. The Provost must render a decision regarding the grievance and notify the parties involved within three (3) class days of the hearing. The decision of the Provost is considered final.

Every effort will be made to address complaints in a timely manner. However, students should be aware that action complaints filed after Spring Commencement may be delayed if the faculty member involved is not available during the summer to respond to the complaint.

All appeals should be resolved by the end of the term in which they are filed. *

Class Day: a class day is any weekday in which the University is in session during the regular academic year (e.g., fall and spring semesters).

**Judicial Procedures Advisor: The Judicial Procedures Advisor is a faculty member who is familiar with the student grievance process and is in a position to serve as an impartial advisor for a student who wishes to file a grievance. The advisor is an ex officio participant in the student grievance process. The advisor is not an advocate who sides with either principal party involved in the grievance but rather someone who acts as a guide for the student in following procedures and in the unbiased collection of evidence to be used at a hearing, if necessary.

Excerpted from the Student Handbook.