Definition of Academic Grievance
An instructor has full autonomy to evaluate a student’s academic performance in a course. Accordingly, options for outcomes from a grievance process are limited. The University administration would override an instructor’s evaluation only in an extremely limited circumstance. Specifically, the occurrence or incident relating to an academic grievance must constitute a failure to adhere to Faculty Code in Section 403 of the Utah State University Policy Manual. If a student believes that the actions of an instructor, academic supervisor, or supervisory committee represent a failure to uphold responsibilities to students as outlined in section 403.3.1 (Faculty Responsibilities to Students) of the faculty code, the student may initiate an academic grievance. An academic grievance includes complaints related to course conduct or grades (e.g., unfair grading, unfair course policies, unwillingness to accommodate approved class absences), graduate committee decisions, practicum or internship placements or evaluations, and other discipline-specific activities that impact the students’ academic record or progress.
Academic Grievance Process
- Prior to initiating a formal appeal process, where possible, reasonable effort should be made to come to a solution between the instructor/supervisor/committee and the student. Informal resolution efforts should be submitted in writing (e.g., by email), and efforts should be thoroughly documented. If informal resolution efforts are unsuccessful, this documentation should be included in the academic appeal form.
- If an informal resolution cannot be reached, students should submit a written appeal using the online academic appeal form, selecting the appropriate department head to receive the appeal form. The department head will review the formal complaint, along with the written response of the faculty member/supervisor/committee and recommend a path for resolution. The grievance form must be submitted within 30 days of the decision or action the student is grieving. The department head must make a decision within 10 working days.
- If not satisfied with the decision of the department head, the student or the faculty member/supervisor/committee may request review by the Academic Standards Subcommittee of the Educational Policies Committee, at their next scheduled meeting (Academic Standards meeting schedule). The Academic Standards Subcommittee will review the written documentation from the student, instructor/supervisor/committee, and department head and make a recommendation for resolution. The academic standards committee may seek clarification from either the student or faculty member, as they consider the evidence.
- All written materials will be sent to the Dean of the academic college for review and decision within 10 working days. A finding of a violation of section 403.3.1 of the faculty code will be accompanied by a plan for remediating the complaint. The Dean’s decision is considered final.