Academic Leadership Toolkit

General Academic Grievances

 

Overview:

GeneralAcadGrievances11-2017.jpg

 

 

Goals:

  • To resolve student complaints about academic issues (excluding grade appeals and academic integrity) at the level closest to the perceived problem.
  • To give students a mechanism to voice their concerns about treatment by faculty and administrators.
  • To give department chairs, deans, and other administrators information about how academic decisions affect students.

 

Authority and Responsibility:

  • FSU Faculty Senate, primarily through its Undergraduate Policy Committee and its Graduate Policy Committee, makes university-wide academic policies. Academic colleges, schools, and departments make academic policies for their respective units.
  • Both The Graduate School and the Office of Faculty Development and Advancement help those units interpret and implement those academic policies appropriately. 
  • All academic authority rests, ultimately, with the Provost. Thus, final decisions on formal grievances are always subject to Provost approval.

 

Common Pitfalls:

  • Student who skip step(s) in the process by contacting someone at a higher level in the University should be redirected so that the instructor (or department chair or dean) has the opportunity to try and resolve the problem at the level closest to the situation.
  • Some administrators attempt to deal with a complex complaint without requiring the student to outline his or her concerns (and supporting evidence) in writing. Students have the responsibility to state their complaints clearly and to provide supporting evidence. Usually, this means that the complaint should be in writing, especially after the instructor level of the process.
  • If a faculty group is considering removing a student from their degree program for reasons other than grade performance (i.e., failing grades), please contact Associate Vice President for Faculty Development and Advancement Jennifer Buchanan as soon as possible.
  • A good-faith effort should be made to investigate issues that students bring to the University’s attention through this process. The response to the student should show that a thorough investigation has been done (relative to the importance and complexity of the allegations) and that the information has been reviewed in an unbiased and objective manner.
  • The Student Academic Relations Committee (a standing Faculty Senate Committee) should be a last resort for resolving issues that arise between students and faculty. If a grievance is referred to SARC, a full written record of the attempts to resolve the grievance will be required. If the Provost accepts SARC’s recommendation, the decision can only be appealed outside the University (in district court).
  • Failing to report potential complaints of alleged sexual harassment to the Title IX office.

 

Resources:

  • The assistant/associate deans in the colleges who work directly with student issues can provide valuable advice to faculty and department chairs and sometimes have background information that can facilitate problem resolution.
  • The Associate Vice President for Faculty Development and Advancement [Jennifer Buchanan at 644-6876 or jbuchanan@admin.fsu.edu] can help at any stage in the process.
  • The Dean of Students Department will sometimes be involved as an advocate for the student and can also serve as a resource for the faculty. [Contact Tammy Patrick at tpatrick@fsu.edu or Alan Acosta at aacosta@fsu.edu. Both may also be reached at 850-644-2428.]
  • The General Counsel’s advice is critical in some situations and can be accessed by contacting Jennifer Buchanan in the Office of Faculty Development and Advancement [644-6876].