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Student-Initiated Grievance on Grading and Other Forms of Evaluation by Faculty

The normal presumption at DePauw is that the faculty member alone is qualified to evaluate and assign grades to the academic work of students in his or her courses. For this reason, questions regarding a faculty member's grades are not normally subject to review. The following procedure is for exceptional cases only.

At all levels of the procedure outlined below, those who hear grade grievances are to be concerned only with whether the faculty member acted in a fair, reasonable manner and whether the faculty member used the same methods of evaluation for all students in the class.

In addressing a grievance:

  1. The student must first attempt to meet with the faculty member involved, thus permitting an opportunity for an informal resolution of the case.
  2. If the situation is not settled, then either the student or the faculty member may ask the chair of the department (or director of program) in which the course is taught to try to resolve the issue. The student, faculty member, and department chair may consult with an academic dean to ask questions about procedure and to discuss the issues involved.
  3. At the request of the student or faculty member, or on the chair's initiative, the chair may appoint and preside over a special departmental committee, which will recommend a resolution to the grievance.
  4. Either the student or the faculty member may decide to appeal the departmental recommendation to the University Review Committee (URC). Such appeals must be made within two weeks after the departmental recommendation has been given. Arrangements for a hearing before the URC are made through an academic dean.

    The URC consists of an appointed member of the Student Life and Academic Atmosphere Committee (SLAAC), who will chair the hearing, two teaching faculty members, and two students. Faculty and student members are chosen by an academic dean from a pool of volunteers identified by SLAAC. The dean observes and records the hearing, but does not participate in committee deliberations.

    The membership of this committee is made known to parties involved prior to a hearing. Student, faculty and administrative alternates are also designated for the committee. Either party can ask the dean to replace a committee member because of bias or conflict of interest. The dean shall decide if there are sufficient grounds to honor this request. If a committee member is unable to attend the hearing, or if a member is excluded because of potential bias or conflict of interest, an alternate will be asked to serve.
  5. The decision reached by the URC is final. Appeals of the committee's decision, on procedural grounds only, may be made to the vice president of academic affairs.
  6. Further information, including details about the hearing procedures, is available in the Office of Academic Life. Hearing procedures are established and periodically reviewed by SLAAC in consultation with the vice president for academic affairs.

Time Line:

  1. Neither a departmental review committee nor the University Review Committee may be convened to hear a grievance until after the student's full term of work has been completed and a final course grade has been given.
  2. A student who has a grievance should talk to the faculty member as soon as possible after the disputed grade has been given, and no later than the last week of the first full primary term following the disputed evaluation.
  3. The student must present an unresolved grievance to the department chair or dean within the first full primary term following the disputed evaluation.
  4. Appeals of the departmental decision to the URC by either the student or faculty member must be made within two weeks of receiving a written decision from the department chair.
  5. After a hearing, the decision of the URC will be delivered in writing to the student's mailbox (or home address if the semester is over) and to the faculty member within two working days after the committee has met.
  6. A student or faculty member who wishes to appeal the URC decision on procedural grounds must do so in writing to the vice president for academic affairs within three business days of receiving the decision from the committee.

(Adopted by the Faculty November 4, 2002; revised April 3, 2006)