Student Compliant Procedures for Academic Issues

An academic complaint is defined as a problem with a course that is related to a student's program of study. Grounds for Academic Complaints include:

  1. The grade for an assignment or for a course was recorded incorrectly.
  2. The faculty member did not provide clear criteria upon which a grade would be evaluated.
  3. The assignment of a final grade lower than that earned by another student enrolled in the same class whose recorded academic performance (all grades for course requirements and assignments) was the exactly the same as the student receiving the lower grade.
  4. The assignment of a final grade in a course by a faculty member based upon performance measure(s) other than the criteria provided by the faculty member on the course syllabus for calculating the final grade in that course.
  5. The number of absences recorded by the faculty member was incorrect, and based upon the number of recorded absences the student received a failing grade as stipulated in the course syllabus.
  6. A student believes that he or she received a prejudiced academic evaluation for expressing a reasoned opinion or idea different from that of the instructor.

A. INFORMAL PROCEDURE

A student who has a complaint is first expected to try resolving the complaint informally. The student should discuss his or her problem with the faculty member involved and try to reach a mutually agreeable solution within the first thirty (30) days, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods after the problem occurred. If the student is not comfortable talking with the faculty member involved, the student may skip to the Mediation Process or the Formal Procedure as described below. Complaints submitted more than forty (40) days, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods after the problem occurred will not be considered. Upon notification of a complaint by the student, the faculty member must meet with the student to discuss the complaint within ten (10) days, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods. Should the issue not be mutually resolved, the student will have the option to seek mediation (Step 2 below) or advance to the formal procedure (Step 3 below) within ten (10) days, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods. A complaint resolved through the Informal Procedure is not considered an official written complaint for the purpose of federal complaint tracking requirements.  Should the student elect to advance to the Formal Procedure, she or he will waive the option to seek Mediation at a later date.

B. MEDIATION (OPTIONAL )

If all reasonable informal efforts to resolve the complaint fail, the student is encouraged, but not required to choose the mediation process. Mediation is an informal process that involves a neutral third party who will assist in resolving the problem. The objective of this process is to come to an agreement that is fair and meets the needs of the parties involved. This process is confidential and private. Mediation does not waive the rights of any aggrieved party to seek resolution of his or her complaint through GSW complaint procedure.

Steps for Mediation:

  1. The student chooses one mediator from a list of certified mediators available from Director of Human Resources. Both parties must be agreeable to mediating the complaint.
  2. The mediator will set up a time for the student and faculty member to meet. This meeting will take place within ten (10) days after the mediator is chosen, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods.
  3. At the time of the meeting, the mediator will assist the two parties in finding a mutually agreeable and fair solution to the conflict. The mediator may offer suggestions, but cannot impose a solution.
  4. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of mediation, he or she can file a complaint through the Formal Procedure.
  5. Both parties involved in the complaint would sign the statement acknowledging their understanding of what processes occurred during Step 2.
  6. The mediator has the option to request written materials from all parties involved in the issue for the purpose of clarifying the issue(s).
  7. A complaint resolved through Mediation is not considered an official written complaint for the purpose of federal complaint tracking requirements.

FORMAL PROCEDURE

1. A formal complaint must be filed within ten (10) days from the time of the conclusion of the Informal Procedure, if Mediation is not pursued, or the conclusion of Mediation, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods. Waiver of time limits (or extension) may be approved by mutual consent of the student and faculty member involved.

2. The student must submit a formal letter of complaint in hard copy to the appropriate Department Chair.  Formal written complaints must be submitted in hard copy, and delivered by hand, by campus mail, or by US Mail. Students in online programs may submit formal written complaints in hard copy by US Mail or by fax. A waiver of time limits may be approved by mutual consent of the student and the faculty or staff member involved. For the purposes of this procedure, an e-mail message is not considered a formal letter of complaint. The formal letter of complaint should include a return address to which the chair will direct her of his written decision. In academic units that do not have department chairs, a student begins the formal process by submitting a formal letter of complaint in hard copy to the dean of the appropriate school.

3. The Department Chair will investigate the complaint and may interview the student for clarification. After the investigation, he or she may either grant or deny the redress sought, or provide alternate remedies. The written decision of the Department Chair will be issued no later than ten (10) days following receipt of the formal letter of complaint, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods.

4. If the Department Chair's decision is not satisfactory to the student, the student has ten (10) days, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods to appeal the decision by submitting a formal letter of complaint in hardcopy to the dean of the appropriate school. The formal letter of complaint should include a return address to which the dean will direct her of his written decision. Upon receipt of the formal letter of complaint, the Dean will review the facts of the complaint and may conduct further inquiry. The Dean has ten (10) days, , excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods after receipt of the formal letter of complaint to notify the student of his or her decision in writing.

5. If the Dean does not render a decision satisfactory to the student, the student may file a formal letter of complaint to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) within ten (10) days of the Dean's decision, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods. The formal letter of complaint should include a return address to which the VPAA will direct her of his written decision. The VPAA will review the facts of the complaint and may conduct a further inquiry. The VPAA has ten (10) days, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods after receipt of the formal letter of complaint to notify the student in writing of his or her decision.

6. If the VPAA does not render a decision satisfactory to the student, the student may submit a formal letter of complaint in hard copy to the President of the University within ten (10) days of the VPAA’s decision, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods. The formal letter of complaint should include a return address to which the President will direct her of his written decision.

7. The President, upon receipt of the formal appeal, will submit the complaint to the Committee on Academic Complaints within ten (10) days, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods for consideration.

8. The following rules will apply:

  • a. The committee shall hear the case and forward its recommendations to the President.
  • b.The hearing will be conducted by the Committee on Academic Complaints in an informal and expeditious manner.
  • c. The Committee will be provided with all prior relevant documents from both sides and may request additional information or seek further witnesses.
  • d. Only committee members, parties to the action and their advisors (drawn from among the student, faculty, and staff of the University) and witnesses testifying before the Committee shall be permitted in the hearing.
  • e. At the hearing, the complainant, the faculty member, and witnesses for each party may testify, and may be questioned by committee members and the student’s advisor.
  • f. The Committee is empowered to rule on procedural matters and relevance of witnesses or evidence.
  • g. All hearings will begin within ten (10) days from the time the Committee receives the complaint from the President, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods.
  • h. A tape recording or other record of the hearing shall be preserved for reference and review until the case has been finally resolved.

9. The Committee shall arrive at a decision after all evidence has been heard and the parties have been dismissed. Only committee members who have been present for the entire hearing may vote on the case.

10. A majority vote of qualified members shall constitute a judgment.

11. Upon receipt of the Committee's recommendations, the President of the University shall render a final decision within ten (10) class days, excluding weekends, university holidays, and break periods, and may amend a recommendation according to his or her best judgment.

12. If the student receives an unfavorable decision from the President of the university, she or he may submit an appeal to the Board of Regents. See Board of Regents Policy 4.7: http://www.usg.edu/policymanual/section4/policy/C333.