FIU - Florida International University, University Graduate School
Academic Grievance Procedure
Adopted on October 5, 1993
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY
Quality graduate education, especially at the doctoral level, is most effective in an environment of informality, mutual respect, cooperation, and open communication. Since there is a unique relationship between graduate students and faculty, students in graduate programs must not only satisfy university and departmental standards for their programs, but also the professional expectations of faculty members.
Often grievances grow out of misunderstandings or misperceptions about expectations. Faculty and advisers have an obligation to ensure that graduate students are aware of professional and academic expectations. Graduate students have a concomitant obligation to diligently pursue and satisfy these standards; they are bound to observe and respect the policies, rules and regulations of the University, of their respective departments and of their professors. Many of these grievances should be settled through open communications.
Occasionally, a rift develops that cannot be settled informally. Although graduate students have a right to seek redress for academic grievances, they often forgo -their rights so as not to offend the professor. Students should be aware that bringing a formal grievance may have the consequence of damaging the working relationship with the professor, and that any straining of the relationship with the professor may interfere with learning. When all means of informal resolution have been exhausted, the parties must have a forum in which to seek review and resolution of an academic grievance.
The purpose of this policy and procedure is to provide a means for graduate students to seek investigation and possible resolution of academic grievances, as defined below.
Scope of Policy
This policy and procedure covers graduate academic grievances which are defined as any complaint or controversy alleging: 1) unprofessional conduct by a professor which adversely affects either a student's ability to satisfy academic expectations, whether in the classroom, the field, or a lab, or the student's actual performance; 2) improper admission counseling; 3) improper counseling by an adviser; 4) arbitrary grading for coursework, comprehensive examination, thesis or dissertation; and 5) arbitrary non-renewal of a graduate assistantship or arbitrary dismissal from a course or program.
This policy does not address issues related to sexual harassment or discrimination based on age, sex, religion, race, marital status, national origin or disability. The Equal Opportunity Programs office is responsible for handling such issues in accordance with procedures developed to comply with the Florida Equity Act. If the graduate student alleges unauthorized utilization of thesis, dissertation or research materials by A professor, resolution of the issue must be sought using the University's policy: Protocols for Investigating Research Misconduct.
Informal Grievance Procedure
Graduate students must attempt to informally resolve an academic grievance as soon as possible; however, a student must initiate informal resolution by contacting the professor (or administrator as instructor of record) no later than ten (10) university days after classes begin in the semester following that in which the complaint arose or the grievance will be deemed untimely. The student must first attempt to resolve the academic grievance through an informal meeting with the professor. If the matter cannot be resolved, or if the professor cannot be reached, the student must meet next with the chair and failing resolution, with the academic dean. If the student's grievance is against a committee, the students must meet with the committee chairperson and the academic dean to attempt informal resolution. A mutually agreeable resolution shall be formalized through a notation in the student's file/record which is initialed by the student and the professor.
If an informal resolution cannot be reached within thirty (30) university days after the initial contact with the professor, then the student has the right to seek a formal resolution of the academic grievance.
Formal Academic Grievance Procedure
The formal academic grievance procedure is initiated by filing a written complaint with the Dean of University Graduate School. The complaint must be filed within fifteen (15) university days of the date the informal resolution process ends, or within twenty (20) university days after classes begin in the semester following that in which the complaint arose, whichever is later. After receipt, the Dean of University Graduate School, in consultation with the Chairperson of the Graduate Grievance Committee, will review the complaint to determine whether it falls within the scope of this policy and whether a formal hearing is wanted. When there are disputed issues of material fact which must be determined, a formal hearing is warranted. If the complaint does not fall within the scope of this policy, then the student shall be so notified in writing by certified mail.
A. Graduate Student Academic Grievance Committee
Where a complaint falls within the scope of this policy and there are disputed issues of material fact to be determined, the Dean of University Graduate School will refer the matter to the Graduate Student Academic Grievance Committee. The grievance committee will be composed of five members, two of whom should be graduate students selected by the Dean of University Graduate School from a list of names supplied by the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and/or the academic deans. The other members of the Committee shall be three full-time faculty who have experience with graduate programs. They will be selected from lists supplied by the academic deans and/or the Faculty Senate. The faculty members of the committee will include two faculty from academic units outside of the school/college where the student is enrolled and where the grievance has been filed. The chairperson of the committee will be jointly selected by the Dean of University Graduate School and the Chairperson of the Faculty Senate.
A hearing shall be scheduled as soon as possible but no later than 45 university days after receipt of the grievance. The grieving and the professor shall be notified by the Dean of University Graduate School by certified mail, of the date and time in which to appear for the formal hearing. The hearing shall be conducted with such formality as is necessary to insure the proceeding is fair and in a manner that allows both sides of the dispute to be presented. The hearing shall be recorded. At the conclusion of the hearing, the members of the committee shall have the opportunity to deliberate outside the presence of the parties. A written report including findings of facts, conclusions and recommendations shall be prepared and forwarded to the Dean of University Graduate School. The Dean of University Graduate School shall issue a written decision within fifteen (15) university days of receipt of the Committee's report. The student and the professor will be sent copies of the Dean's determination by certified mail.
Any decision of the Dean of University Graduate School may be appealed by either the grieving or the professor where there is evidence that a significant impropriety in the review process occurred. The appeal must be in writing, specify in detail the alleged procedural impropriety, and must be filed in the Office of the Provost within ten (10) university days, of the date of receipt of the Dean's decision. The Provost or a designee, shall review the appeal and the record of the formal hearing and issue a decision within twenty (20) university days. The decision of the Office of the Provost is final.
Effective Date of the policy: October 5, 1993.