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Procedures for Dealing With Unresolved Student Grievances

The Department of Physics and Astronomy construes a student grievance to be an unresolved disagreement between the student and his or her teacher concerning grades, attendance, or the student's treatment in an individual course1. The grievance procedures described here are designed to respond to specific instances of such alleged mistreatment. Before initiating the grievance procedures described below, the student should be sure that he or she has discussed the problem in question with his or her faculty instructor or teaching assistant. only after such discussion has failed to resolve the disagreement should the grievance machinery be set in motion. The procedures to be followed by the Department and a student in responding to a grievance are as follows:

  1. The student shall meet with the Department Head to discuss the grievance and the procedures for dealing with the grievance. If the disagreement is not resolved in the discussion, then the student may request the Department Head to appoint a Committee to deal with the grievance.
  2. The Committee shall consist of three faculty members and shall not include any faculty member involved in the disagreement. The Head can make himself/herself an ex-officio member of the committee if he or she so chooses.
  3. Day 0 In order to minimize misunderstandings, the student must submit to the Head a written document which sets forth his or her argument.
  4. Day2 The Department Head will prepare for the Committee a written document stating his or her understanding of the grievance. He will submit his document and the student's document within 48 hours2 of his receipt of the student's document.
  5. The Head will immediately give copies of the documents written by the student and the Head to the faculty member involved in the grievance.
  6. Day 5 Within three days of receipt of the written document discussed in sections No. 3 and No. 4, the faculty member involved in the grievance must submit to the Committee a written response to the student's allegations.
  7. The Committee will immediately give a copy of the faculty member's written response to the student involved in the grievance.
  8. Day 9 Within seven days of receipt of the student's written complaint the Committee will meet to hear the grievance.
  9. The student will meet first with the Committee to present his or her arguments verbally.
  10. The faculty member will then meet with the Committee to present his or her response to the student allegation.
  11. Day 12 Within three days after the meeting, either the student or the faculty member may submit further written statements to the Committee. If any such statements are received, the Committee will see to it that all parties to the dispute have copies of the said statements and are given the opportunity to reply in writing to the said statements.
  12. The Committee may choose to have further discussions with the student or faculty member during the one week period following the first meeting of the Committee. The discussions should-be limited to issues raised in the Committee's first meeting. New issues must be treated as separate grievances in procedures beginning with step one of this document.
  13. Day 16 The Committee will deliberate the issues and report its conclusions to the Head within two weeks of its first meeting. Part of its report shall consist of all written documents submitted to it during the course of its deliberations.
  14. The Head will communicate the findings of the Committee to the student and to the faculty member involved in the dispute.
  15. If the Department Head is, himself, a principal in the disagreement, then a full professor appointed by the Assistant to the Head will function in place of the Head in all of the above steps.
  16. If after all of the above steps have been taken, the student remains unsatisfied, then he or she can take the question to his or her Dean.
  17. If at any time during the process described in this document, the student is dissatisfied with the Department's conduct of the investigation, then he or she can take the question to his or her Dean. In such a case the grievance procedures in the Department will be terminated.
  18. If after all of the above steps have been taken, the faculty member is dissatisfied, then he or she can take the question to his or her Head or Dean.

This document does not in any way abridge the rights of the faculty member to appeal the decision of the Committee.

1In a process entirely separate from the grivance procedures, each student will be given the opportunity to evaluate in writing his or her course instructor, laboratory instructor, textbook, and overall experience in the course. These written evaluations are collected at the end of each semester and kept on file in the departmental office for five years.

2Weekends, regularly scheduled vacations, and officially approved leave time are not included in the calculations of time intervals set forth in this document.

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