Academic Grievance Committee

Composition

The Academic Dean of each college will appoint the College Academic Grievance Committee. The Committee will consist of five members: three faculty members from the college and two students. An ad-hoc committee will be appointed to hear graduate student issues. Membership of the ad-hoc committee will be three graduate faculty and two graduate students. One alternate faculty member and one alternate student will be named in the event that a seated committee member finds it necessary to excuse himself/herself or is successfully challenged. The Academic Dean will appoint one of the three faculty members to serve as chair.

Duties

The College Academic Grievance Committees will hear academic dishonesty cases as well as allegations of unfair/unacceptable treatment of students by faculty. Complaints involving discrimination or harassment will be handled in accordance with the Standards of Conduct. If the case concerns academic dishonesty, the procedures followed are the same as for disciplinary matters. When the student or student group lodges a formal academic grievance of unfair/unacceptable treatment against a faculty member, procedures for conducting a hearing will be followed as described below.

 

Hearing Procedures

  1. Rules of evidence, disclosure, procedure, and the burden of proof for deciding issues found in a court of law do not apply to these procedures. The purpose of an administrative hearing in a university environment is to search for the truth and to make reasonable decisions regarding the pursuit of truth and recommendations regarding such matters.  To that end, the weight of proof when deciding an issue is “more likely than not.” For example, does the evidence and argument presented during the hearing weigh more for accepting or rejecting the allegation? The answer to that question will provide the basis for the committee’s finding.
  2. The committee may consider those issues that a reasonable employee or student would likely consider in making decisions. The committee will operate in the spirit of fairness to all parties and thus all reasonable evidence and testimony that the Committee deems appropriate may be heard in the committee’s attempt to determine the merits of the allegation and to determine recommendations regarding such matters.
  3. Any member of the committee who is directly involved with the academic grievance before the committee shall excuse himself/herself in order to ensure a fair hearing.
  4. Either the student or the faculty member may challenge any member of the committee for lack of impartiality. The challenging party shall present grounds for the challenge. The chair will rule on such challenges.
  5. All parties concerned with the academic grievance shall appear in person and remain until the chair releases them.
  6. Parties may appear alone or with one other person. This person may be a friend, an advisor, or an attorney. If any party chooses to be accompanied by an attorney, he/she must so inform the chair of the committee at least 3 days in advance of the hearing. The attorney, advisor or friend may not address the committee, witnesses or the other party (s) directly. If the student chooses to invite the SGA Director of Student Rights and Grievances to attend the meeting, this person will be permitted to attend the meeting as the advisor.
  7. The student and the faculty member may present documentary evidence, witnesses, and testimony. Only three witnesses may appear for each side. The committee will grant exceptions to the number of witnesses upon demonstration that three witnesses cannot adequately present a party’s case. The chair will rule on all exception requests.

 

The following sequence shall be followed for the presentation of testimony

  1. Grievant opening statements
  2.  Faculty opening statements
  3. Testimony and cross-examination of witnesses
  4. Student closing statement (10 minute limit)
  5. Faculty closing statement (10 minute limit)
  6. Student rebuttal (5 minute limit)
  7. Faculty rebuttal (5 minute limit)
  8. The committee reserves the right to question any party appearing before the committee at any time.
  9. All testimony on behalf of the student and the faculty member shall be heard unless judged by the chair to be repetitious or irrelevant. The decision of the chair is final.
  10. Neither the student nor faculty member shall question the other directly but may suggest questions to the chair.
  11. A tape recording of the proceedings, except for the committee deliberations in executive session, will be maintained along with the written record.
  12. After all the evidence has been presented, the committee will move into executive session to evaluate the testimony, including documentary evidence presented, and will reach a decision on the validity of the academic grievance and action to be taken. The committee may take notes or materials with them into executive session. All individual notes will be collected and destroyed at the conclusion of the hearing. The committee will review the findings and cast ballots in executive session. Each member is allowed one vote. The weight of proof for deciding an issue is “more likely than not.” See the first paragraph of the section titled “Hearing Procedures.”
  13. The committee will reconvene in regular session for the purpose of informing the student and the faculty member of its findings and recommendation(s).
  14. The committee will report its findings and recommendations to be taken to the Academic Dean of the college within ten (10) work days of the hearing. The chair will forward the records of the hearing and minutes of the meeting the Academic Dean.
  15. The Academic Dean will conduct a procedural and substantive review of the matter. The Academic Dean will either accept the findings and implement the recommendations of the committee or, if the Academic Dean determines that a procedural or due process error has been made or there is cause for reconsideration based on substantive matter, reject the findings and/or recommendations of the committee and impose appropriate action or refer the matter back to the committee for reconsideration.
  16. The Academic Dean will notify the student and faculty member in writing of his/her decision(s) regarding the matter within 10 days of receipt of the report from the college Academic Grievance Committee. The Academic Dean’s letter will advise the student of his/her right to appeal and the procedures for submitting an appeal.

 

Appeal Procedures

The student or the faculty member may appeal the decision of the Academic Dean of the college by petitioning the Vice President for Academic Affairs in writing within ten (10) work days from the date of the letter sent by the Academic Dean. The Vice President shall forward the petition to the Chair of the Academic Appeals Committee (undergraduate) or Graduate Council (graduate student appeals).

 

  1. The petition must indicate the basis for the appeal one or more of the following:
    1. Published procedures were not followed;
    2. There was insufficient evidence to support the Committee’s decision(s);
    3. Sanctions imposed were inappropriate;
    4. Subsequent to the hearing, information was discovered which indicates that member(s) of the committee were not impartial.
  2. No new evidence may be presented. The decision on the appeal will be based on the records of the College Academic Grievance Committee hearing, the contents of the official file including the letter of notification issued by the Academic Dean, and the appeal petition submitted by the student or faculty member. The Academic Appeals Committee (Graduate Council) will, within ten (10) work days of the receipt of the petition by the Vice President for Academic Affairs, complete a review of this matter and send its findings and recommendation(s) to the Vice President for Academic Affairs for review, implementation, rejection or referral back to the appropriate committee or academic administrator for further consideration. The Vice President will notify in writing the student, faculty member, and other appropriate parties of the decision in this matter.
  3. The student or faculty member may appeal the decision of the Vice President by submitting a petition to the President for review and recommendation by the President’s Executive Appeals Committee.
  4. The petition must be filed with the Office of the President within 10 work days of the letter sent by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The petition must indicate the basis for the appeal as noted in items a, b, c, and d above. No new evidence may be presented. The review will be based on the records the case and the appeal petition submitted by the student or faculty member.
  5. The President will notify the appropriate parties of the decision. The decision of the President is final.
  6. A copy of the Student Academic Grievance Form documenting the outcome of the grievance procedure will be forwarded to the Academic Dishonesty Data Warehouse in the Office of Academic Affairs