Salisbury University has established the Student Academic Grievance Policy to give students of the University community a forum in which to address concerns related to academic matters (e.g. grade disputes and professional program dismissals when they do not involve an academic integrity violation). The policy provides a method for aggrieved students to express substantive complaints about academic matters and have them resolved in a timely fashion. The following matters are not covered by these grievance procedures:
Students are encouraged to attempt to resolve differences between themselves and others in an informal manner prior to initiating a formal grievance under this policy. This may entail only a conversation in which the views of both parties are aired in a mutually satisfactory manner or a conversation using a neutral third party for mediation. In the cases in which the differences involve a faculty member, and the differences are not resolved informally between the faculty member and the student, the student is encouraged to consult with the department Chair prior to filing a formal grievance. If an informal resolution cannot be achieved, the grievant may elect to begin the formal grievance procedure that follows.
NOTE: Extenuating circumstances may cause the Office of Academic Affairs to extend the suggested time outlined below.
The grievant must submit a formal grievance in writing to the person alleged to be responsible for the actions leading to the grievance before the mid-semester point of the following major semester as noted on the University's master calendar). Nothing in this policy is to be construed to inhibit or prevent the grievant from withdrawing a formal grievance once the formal grievance procedures have begun.
A formal grievance must set forth in writing a statement which clearly defines the basis of the grievance, a chronology of events leading up to the grievance, the names of people with knowledge of the event, pertinent dates, a description of the actions taken against the grievant which led to the dissatisfaction and a proposed resolution to the situation. Any documentation relevant to the grievance should be attached to the letter. If known, information about relevant University academic policies should be provided. The grievant should present all the evidence at the grievant's disposal at this initial stage. The grievant has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the action or inaction complained about did occur and that it was inconsistent with University policies or procedures.
The person alleged to be responsible for actions leading to the grievance will provide a written response to the grievant within 10 working days of receiving the formal grievance. The written decision should address the specific issues raised in the grievance and include all pertinent information.
If the response is not satisfactory to the grievant, he/she has 10 working days to file the same original formal grievance with the supervisor of the person (department Chair for faculty member) alleged to be responsible for the actions leading to the grievance. The grievant must include all prior written responses. The supervisor of the person alleged to be responsible for the actions leading to the grievance will provide a written response to the grievant and the person alleged to be responsible within 10 working days of receiving the formal grievance.
If the supervisors response is not satisfactory to the grievant, he/she has 10 working days to file the same original formal grievance with the Dean of the school in which the dispute has occurred. The grievant must include all prior written responses. The Dean of the school will provide a written response to the grievant within 10 working days of receiving the grievance.
If the response from the Dean of the school is not satisfactory to the grievant, he/she has 10 working days to forward the same original formal grievance to the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs who will refer the grievance to the Academic Policies Committee (APC) for review. In the event the Academic Policies Committee is not available, the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs will forward the appeal to the Provost, who will attempt to create an ad hoc committee to handle the review as soon as practicable. (All further references in this policy to the Academic Policies Committee include the ad hoc committee where appropriate.) At this point in the process, the grievant may also include additional documentation shedding new light upon the appeal; any additional materials received will also be available to the person alleged to be responsible for the actions leading to the grievance. The Academic Policies Committee may choose to share any additional materials received with any parties involved with the case to this point.
Committee Review of Evidence
The Committee normally has 15 working days from receiving the formal grievance to decide among the following options:
1) Review Submitted Evidence: Render a written decision based on the documents and materials submitted with the appeal.
2) Investigation: Render a written decision based on a series of interviews, a review of documents, and/or any other action deemed appropriate for the purpose of collecting additional information and evidence necessary for an informed and reasoned judgment to be rendered. The investigation, including interviews, will usually be completed within 20 working days of the decision to conduct an investigation.
3) Hearing: Render a written decision based on a hearing. If the Committee determines that a hearing is to be held, the Committee shall send written notice of the time, date and location to all parties. The hearing shall be conducted as follows:
After the Committee has completed its review, the Committee shall issue a written decision based on findings of fact and conclusions, including procedures followed and any applicable University policies and procedures, usually within 10 working days, and shall provide a copy of the findings to all directly involved parties, including, but not limited to, the parties involved, the department Chair, the Dean of the school, the Office of Academic Affairs and the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Appeal of Committee's Findings
If either party elects to appeal the decision of the Committee, he or she must provide written notice of the appeal to the Provost, within 10 working days from the date of the Committees written decision. The written appeal should set forth all of the reasons that support reversal of the Committees decision and include any supporting documentation.
The Provost has the discretion to take any action necessary to thoroughly complete a review, and then will issue a decision, which will be binding and final. The decision will be conveyed in writing to the student, the faculty member, department Chair, Dean of the school, the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Academic Policies Committee usually within 10 working days.
Revised Document Approved by the Faculty Senate on May 11, 1999