Chapter 9 - Rights and Responsibilities

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9.1 - Introduction

At ISU, rights and responsibilities for graduate students are based upon the assumption that undertaking graduate study presupposes a greater measure of maturity and commitment to the academic community than that expected of undergraduate students. Graduate students are students, apprentices to the professions, and, when on assistantship, employees. Each of these roles has its own rights and responsibilities.

In addition to the provisions of the Graduate College Handbook, all graduate students are governed by:

  • the Board of Regents' Uniform Rules of Personal Conduct;
  • the Student Disciplinary Regulations available from the Dean of Students office that contain the Student Conduct Code and judicial process procedures;
  • university regulations printed in the “Student Life” section of the Policy Library and the ISU Catalog;
  • sexual, racial, and ethnic harassment policies;
  • university traffic and parking regulations;
  • department/program rules and policies;
  • general obligations as citizens, scholars, and employees under state and federal law; and
  • for students on appointment, the “Personnel and Human Relations” section of the Policy Library, department procedures, and the terms of sponsored research agreements that fund their assistantships or other employment.

Discipline procedures and avenues for appeal outlined in this document are intended to deal primarily with the failure of a graduate student to fulfill his or her responsibility to the academic community. Disciplinary procedures presented in the Student Disciplinary Regulations involve issues of personal conduct and behavior.

9.1.1 General Statement of Freedoms and Responsibilities

The freedoms and responsibilities listed below are adapted from the American Association of University Professors Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students (printed in the AAUP Catalog, Winter, 1967), and are offered as general guidelines for the graduate student's relationship to the university.

Consistent with other university policies, graduate students have the right to express themselves freely on relevant topics in the classroom and take reasoned exception to the data and views presented in any course; be free from prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation; be free from inappropriate disclosure of views or beliefs presented to an instructor during graduate study, except with the consent of the student; organize and join associations to promote their common interests; examine and discuss questions of interest both publicly and privately; exercise the freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, and rights of petition, without reprisal from the university; and expect that their relationship with civil authorities remains a private one except where it directly affects the university or the student's suitability as a professional in his or her chosen discipline.

Graduate students have the responsibility to help maintain the atmosphere of free inquiry and free expression inherent to the academic community, respect the right of other members of the community to express themselves freely, and observe scrupulous standards of intellectual honesty.

Graduate research and administrative assistants are further expected to avoid exploitation of their positions with the university for personal or financial gain, secure prior permission from proper sources before releasing information about projects conducted under university auspices, and observe additional regulations that may be imposed by directors of projects on which they are at work.

Graduate teaching assistants have the responsibility to present the assigned material in classes that they teach, respect the freedom of their students to express themselves freely and openly, and respect the confidential nature of the student-instructor relationship. The classroom is not to be used as a platform for the graduate teaching assistant to expound upon his or her personal ideology.

9.1.2 Specific Policies and Laws of Interest to Graduate Students

The following is a listing of policies and laws that apply to graduate students or assistants:

  • Student Conduct Code. All students are subject to the ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations that contain the student conduct code. Behaviors that are not permitted include: academic misconduct, abuse of controlled substances, assault or threat of assault, bribery, contempt, disruption of the rights of others, violation of fire or safety regulations, endangerment, gambling, harassment, hazing, misuse of computers, false identification, misuse of keys, sexual abuse, theft, threat of harm, unlawful entry, possession of weapons, and violation of law. Greater detail can be found in the Student Disciplinary Regulations.
  • Academic Misconduct. Issues concerning academic misconduct by graduate students are handled differently depending on the nature of the misconduct. Instances of suspected academic misconduct in research should be reported to the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. Applicable rules and procedures may be found in the Faculty Handbook in the section of the Faculty Conduct Policy entitled “Faculty Misconduct” (Section 7.2). In issues regarding conduct of research, graduate students are held to the same standards as faculty. Instances of graduate students suspected of academic misconduct that do not involve research should be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs in the Dean of Students Office. Applicable rules and procedures may be found in the Student Disciplinary Regulations.
  • Discrimination and Harassment Policy. The university’s policies on discrimination and harassment apply to graduate students.  Those policies are detailed in the University’s Policy Library at
  • Conflicts of Interest. Several provisions of law and policy apply to graduate students under the rubric of “conflicts of interest”. State and federal law apply to acquisition of goods and services by the university so as to restrict purchases from employees (see the Policy Library, Personnel & Human Relations Section); Faculty Handbook, Section 7.2, 8.2). As required by federal regulations, the university has adopted a general conflicts of interest policy affecting those employees who have outside business commitments. Graduate assistants, especially those on research appointments, with significant private business arrangements must comply with this policy. Graduate students should be aware that university facilities should not be used for private commercial purposes without approval.
  • Statement on Professional Ethics. Graduate students are expected to comply with the Faculty Statement on Professional Ethics (see Faculty Handbook, Section 7.2).
  • Compliance with Research Standards. Graduate students conducting research must comply with the university's procedures for human subjects review, animal care and use, use of radioactive materials, prior approval of certain recombinant DNA experiments, and various safety requirements (see Faculty Handbook, Section 8.3).
  • Ownership of Intellectual Property and Data. ISU subscribes to the general principle that the intellectual property created by a student is generally owned by that student. However, student work often owes much to faculty initiative. In addition, the provisions of sponsored research grants funding research appointments may affect the ownership of intellectual property derived from work on grants. Students must be aware of these restrictions on ownership of intellectual property as provided by university policies on patents and copyrights. Graduate students will be given a fair opportunity to use data resulting from sponsored research grants; however, that opportunity is subject to the university's obligations with respect to those grants. The university has a general obligation to publish the results of scientific investigation. Consequently, the student's right to control data collected under sponsorship is not exclusive.
  • Tutoring. Although tutoring is a commonly used means of supplementing students' income, a graduate teaching assistant may not tutor a course that he or she is currently teaching. In addition, graduate students must check with their department before entering into a tutoring agreement to see if additional department regulations exist.

9.2 - Academic Dishonesty Policy

This policy applies to graduate and undergraduate students. It is taken from the “Academic Life” section of the ISU Catalog.

Academic dishonesty occurs when a student uses or attempts to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam; or submits as his or her own work themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, or other products prepared by another person; or knowingly assists another student in such acts. Such behavior is abhorrent to the university, and students found guilty of academic dishonesty face suspension, conduct probation, or written reprimand. Instances of academic dishonesty ultimately affect all students and the entire university community by degrading the value of diplomas when some are obtained dishonestly and by lowering the grades of students working honestly.

Examples of specific acts of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Obtaining Unauthorized Information. Information is obtained dishonestly, for example, by copying graded homework assignments from another student, by working with another student on a take-home test or homework when not specifically permitted to do so by the instructor, by looking at one’s notes or other written work during an examination when not specifically permitted to do so.
  • Tendering of Information. Students may not give or sell their work to another person who plans to submit it as his or her own. This includes giving their work to another student to be copied, giving someone answers to exam questions during an exam, taking an exam and discussing its contents with students who will be taking the same exam, or giving or selling a term paper to another student.
  • Misrepresentation. Students misrepresent their work by handing in the work of someone else. The following are examples: purchasing a paper from a term paper service; reproducing another person's paper (even with modifications) and submitting it as their own; having another student do their computer program; or having someone else take their exam.
  • Bribery. Offering money or any item or service to a faculty member or any other person to gain academic advantage for oneself or for another is dishonest.
  • Plagiarism. Unacknowledged use of information, ideas, or phrasing of other writers is an offense comparable with theft and fraud, and it is so recognized by the copyright and patent laws. Literary offenses of this kind are known as plagiarism.

One is guilty of plagiarism when: the exact words of another writer are used without using quotation marks and indicating the source of the words; the words of another are summarized or paraphrased without giving the credit that is due; the ideas from another writer are borrowed without properly documenting their source.

Acknowledging the sources of borrowed material is a simple, straightforward procedure that will strengthen the paper and assure the integrity of the writer. The English 104-105 Student Manual provides guidelines to aid students in documenting material borrowed from other sources, as does almost every handbook of writing style.

Academic dishonesty is considered a violation of the behavior expected of a student in an academic setting as well as a student conduct violation. A student found guilty of academic dishonesty is therefore subject to appropriate academic penalty, to be determined by the instructor of the course, as well as to penalty under the university student conduct regulations.

If a graduate student is accused of academic dishonesty relating to conduct of a sponsored research project, the matter will be handled in accordance with the university's “Policy on Academic Misconduct” (see Faculty Handbook, Section In issues regarding conduct of research, graduate students are held to the same standards as faculty. Otherwise, the matter will be handled in accordance with the processes under the “Academic Life” section of the ISU Catalog.

9.3 - Active Enrollment Status

Active enrollment status is achieved by admission either to a graduate program or to non-degree seeking status and admission to the Graduate College. If active status is lost (see below), then the individual is transferred to an inactive status.

9.3.1 Loss of Active Status

Students lose active status when any of the following events occur:

  • Lack of registration for 2 consecutive years or 4 continuous semesters (excluding summer).
  • Resignation or withdrawal from a graduate program.
  • Dismissal from a graduate program for lack of progress.
  • Dismissal for failure to maintain academic standing.
  • Dismissal as an outcome of the student judicial process.
  • Failure of the final oral exam or the PhD preliminary exam with no opportunity to retake the exam.
  • Failure to complete remaining degree requirements in a timely manner after the final oral.

The DOGE and the major professor, where there is one, must provide written justification for the loss of active status to the Graduate College. Appeals and grievances for this action should follow those outlined in the Graduate College Handbook.

9.3.2 Reinstatement to Active Status

Individuals who do not have active graduate status cannot register for courses as a graduate student. Reinstatement of active status requires approval of a graduate program or formal acceptance to non-degree seeking status. Either action also requires approval of the Graduate College. Transferring from one program to another does not affect active status, but must be approved by the receiving program and the Graduate College. Reinstatement requires submission of a “Reinstatement to Active Status” form and the written approval of a graduate program and the Graduate College. When considering reinstatement, both the program and the Graduate College may consider the student's overall fitness for continued studies, including information about the student's conduct, employment and education since the student's last enrollment. If reinstatement involves a change of program, the procedure for transferring to another graduate program also applies. A student who is denied reinstatement may request that the denial be reviewed by the Provost.

9.4 - Failure to Maintain Academic Standing

9.4.1 Probation

If a graduate student does not maintain a cumulative 3.00 grade point average on all course work taken, exclusive of research credit, he or she may be placed on academic probation by the Dean of the Graduate College. Grades earned by graduate students in undergraduate courses are included in the calculation of the grade point average. Academic probation judgments are made on the basis of grades in course work only.

New, first term, degree-seeking graduate students who fall below a 3.00 GPA at the end of their first semester at Iowa State University will be given a one term grace period to bring their grades back to a 3.00 GPA.  These students will receive a warning letter from the Graduate College. While on academic probation a student will not be admitted to candidacy for a degree and if appointed to a graduate assistantship, the student will not receive a Graduate College tuition scholarship.

To insure that registration does not take place without a review by faculty in the program, the Graduate College places a hold on future registrations by a student on probation. Before a student on probation registers for each term, there must be a review of his or her record and the DOGE must recommend whether the Graduate College should permit further registration. Some programs conduct reviews by review committee; others assign the responsibility to POS committees.

Before graduation is approved by the Graduate College, the student must complete all courses listed on the program of study with a minimum grade of C and have achieved a 3.00 GPA or greater. Exceptions must be recommended in writing by the student’s POS committee and DOGE and approved by the Dean of the Graduate College. Probationary status for more than two years is grounds for dismissal for failure to maintain academic standing.

9.4.2 Dismissal for Failure to Maintain Academic Standing 

Under certain circumstances it may be necessary to terminate a graduate student's enrollment in the relevant academic program. If a student is unable to transfer to another program, this will lead to the loss of active graduate status. The following guidelines apply:

  • One or more of the following are grounds for dismissal for failure to maintain academic standing:
    • Failure to maintain the minimum stipulated grade point average set by the Graduate College and the program.
    • Failure to pass within the time frame designated by the relevant academic program any required examinations. This includes qualifying, preliminary, or final oral examinations.
    • Failure to complete within the time frame designated by the relevant academic program any required coursework, or thesis or creative component credits.
    • Failure to demonstrate scholarly and professional competence.
    • Academic probationary status for two or more years.
    • Failure to establish a major professor in the time frame specified by the major program.
    • Failure to comply with graduate student responsibilities or requirements discussed in this Graduate College Handbook or in the relevant program's student handbook.
    • A finding by the ad hoc investigatory committee of academic misconduct in research and scholarly activity as outlined in the Faculty Handbook, Section
    • Personal conduct that violates the Regents Uniform Rules of Personal Conduct and General University Regulations discussed in the “Student Life” section of the Policy Library and the Student Disciplinary Regulations.
  • Procedure for dismissal:
    • Informal conference. If the question arises as to the fitness of a graduate student to remain in the relevant academic program, an informal conference shall be held between the appropriate departmental or program officials (including the major professor or academic adviser) and the graduate student for the purpose of resolving the matter to the mutual satisfaction of all parties.
    • Informal Conference with the Dean of the Graduate College (optional). If the situation cannot be resolved at the informal conference, either party may bring the problem to the attention of the Dean of the Graduate College. In attempting to resolve the matter, the Dean of the Graduate College will review the case and meet with the parties concerned and attempt to identify alternatives to dismissal.
    • Written warning. When it becomes clear that a student’s academic standing is in jeopardy, the director of graduate education (DOGE) in consultation with the major professor of the student’s major program shall provide written notification to the student clearly spelling out the perceived shortcomings and the steps that must be taken by the student and any deadlines that may apply. Reasonable time must be given to correct the deficiencies.
    • Written notification. In cases where the steps outlined above do not lead to a resolution or acceptable improvement, the DOGE of the academic program shall notify the student in writing of dismissal. This notification shall include a clear statement of the reasons for dismissal, and the effective date of the dismissal.
  • Appeal procedure:
    • If dismissal is based on failure to demonstrate scholarly or professional competence, the graduate student may appeal to his/her program grievance committee. The procedure is given in the section of this handbook entitled “Grievances Related to Scholarly and Professional Competence.”
    • If the dismissal is for reasons other than scholarly or professional competence, the student may appeal in writing directly to the Graduate Dean. Depending on the circumstances, the Graduate Dean may rule directly or may establish an ad hoc Graduate College appeals committee, composed of equal numbers of students and faculty members of the Graduate Council (see Appendix A). The ad hoc appeals committee submits its recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate College for action.
  • Every graduate program has responsibility for establishing an environment that provides a reasonable expectation for student success. Graduate program responsibilities with regard to student termination include:
    • Establishment of program procedures that allow early identification of academic difficulties.
    • Publication of a student handbook that clearly spells out program expectations, procedures, requirements, time limits, penalties for failure to meet program requirements, and appeal procedures.
    • Programs are expected to play an active role in resolving disputes between a graduate student and major professor.
    • Program rules must provide the possibility for a student to change major professors, and the program must actively assist in this process if it becomes necessary for student success.
    • If a major professor resigns from a student’s committee, a student must be given reasonable opportunity to secure another faculty member to serve as major professor.
  • Program policies concerning the assignment of major professors and limitations to these policies should be spelled out in the program’s student handbook.
  • Student responsibilities:
    • It is the student’s responsibility to understand university and program requirements and to maintain good academic standing.
    • Efforts to meet university and program requirements are expected to include a willingness and capacity to study long hours and to acquire needed language and technical skills.
    • If it should become necessary for a student to change major professors, the primary responsibility for finding a new mentor rests with the student

9.5 - Problems with Assistantship Appointment

9.5.1 Disputes with Supervisors

Every graduate assistantship appointment has associated with it an expectation of work to be performed. The supervisor has responsibility to see that this obligation is met. This relationship is the same as an employee/supervisory relationship for other types of employment. A supervisor’s judgment that work is unsatisfactory can lead to termination of the appointment following due process outlined below. The nominal time commitment for a graduate assistantship is an average of 20 hours/week for a 1/2-time appointment. Supervisors are expected to provide a safe and harassment-free environment and to provide appropriate training. Frequently, the duties of a student’s assistantship are closely tied to a thesis or dissertation project. In such cases, the distinction between a supervisor and mentor is difficult to make. Students are expected to work long hours on their own research. When disputes arise concerning assistantship duties, performance, or working conditions, the student and supervisor should meet and attempt to resolve the issues. Understandings should be formalized in writing. If the parties cannot resolve the disputes themselves, they should bring the dispute first to the department chair of the department through which the appointment is made. If the department chair is unsuccessful at resolving the dispute, the issue may be brought to the Dean of the Graduate College.

9.5.2 Length of Appointment

Graduate assistantship appointments are made for a term not to exceed one fiscal year although graduate programs may make longer term commitments. Terms of each appointment are formalized in a letter of intent (see Letters of Intent). Satisfactory performance of the assistantship and academic work will normally make a student eligible for reappointment. However, departments have the discretion not to reappoint. Departments have an obligation to provide notice if a reappointment is not to be made. A student who is not reappointed may ask for review by the Graduate College after having discussed the matter with the appointing department executive officer. Failure to reappoint is not considered termination and therefore is not subject to the policies given below. Assistantship support for more than seven years is strongly discouraged and departments or programs may set limits on the number of years that a student is eligible for assistantship support.

9.5.3 Termination of Assistantship Appointments

A graduate assistantship appointment may be terminated for either of two reasons: 1) for cause, or 2) loss of funding. The policies on termination given here apply only to graduate assistantship appointments that have been formalized by a letter of intent and not to longer term commitments that may have been made.

Early Termination for Cause

Under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to terminate a graduate assistant's appointment for disciplinary reasons. In these cases, the following guidelines are followed:

  • Grounds for termination for cause:
    • Failure to maintain minimum registration as a student (see Chapter 2).
    • Neglect of duty or incompetence.
    • Persistent refusal to follow reasonable advice and counsel of faculty in carrying out assistantship obligations.
    • Failure to maintain the minimum cumulative grade point average required by the program.
    • Failure to comply with responsibilities as an employee set forth in this Graduate College Handbook, department rules and regulations governing assistantships, the “Personnel and Human Relations” section of the Policy Library, or the terms of sponsored research agreements that fund the assistantship.
    • A finding by the ad hoc investigatory committee of academic misconduct in research and scholarly activity as outlined in the Faculty Handbook, Section
    • Personal conduct seriously prejudicial to the university, including violation of the Regents' Uniform Rules of Personal Conduct, state or federal law, Student Disciplinary Regulations, and General University Regulations discussed in the “Student Life” section of the Policy Library.
  • Procedure for termination (removal from the payroll cannot be accomplished until the termination procedure has been completed):
    • Informal conference. This should be the first step followed in attempting to resolve the problem. If reason to question the fitness of a graduate assistant arises during the term of appointment, an informal conference shall be held between the appropriate administrative officials (including the immediate supervisor) and the graduate assistant for the purpose of resolving the matter to the mutual satisfaction of all parties. In cases where grounds may exist for termination due to inadequate performance in teaching, the course supervisor shall also participate in the informal conference.
    • Formal ruling. When a mutually satisfactory resolution cannot be reached by informal means, the department chair of the appointing department or designee shall investigate the issues and issue his or her decision in writing regarding the matter. The assistant must receive at least thirty days’ notice if the appointment is to be terminated.
  • Appeal procedure. If the graduate assistant wishes to challenge the decision of the department chair, the termination may be appealed in writing to the Dean of the Graduate College within five business days of notification of the results of the department chair’s decision. The Graduate Dean may rule directly or may establish an ad hoc Graduate College appeals committee, composed of equal numbers of students and faculty members of the Graduate Council. The ad hoc judiciary must establish whether or not proper procedure was followed and whether or not the department’s claims have merit. The ad hoc appeals committee submits its recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate College for action.

Early Termination by Reason of Loss of Funding 

Graduate assistants may appeal early termination for reason of loss of funding to the Dean of the Graduate College. However, the sole basis for appeal is that there was not a genuine loss of funding, or that loss of funding was a pretext for improper termination of the appointment. Review by the Dean of the Graduate College may take place by presentation of written arguments and documentation from the graduate assistant and the department. The Dean of the Graduate College shall give a reasonable time to submit such information, and may rule solely on the written arguments and documentation.

If funding has been withdrawn by the sponsor of research from which the graduate assistant is being paid, the assistant shall receive at least thirty days prior notice of termination. The department shall make a good faith effort to find alternate funding to maintain a graduate assistant appointment.

9.5.4 Discipline of Graduate Assistants Other than by Termination

Departments may issue reprimands, warnings, or suspensions to graduate assistants for lesser violations of the same grounds for which dismissal may be initiated. Such reprimands, warnings, or suspensions may be grieved as a matter related to scholarly and professional competence (see Student Grievance Procedures).

9.5.5 Reassignment

Departments retain the right to reassign graduate assistants to other duties so long as there is no loss of pay or shortening of the term of the original appointment. Due consideration should be given to the effect of reassignment on a graduate assistant's progress as a student.

9.5.6 Effect of Termination or Reassignment on Graduate Studies

A graduate research assistant whose appointment is terminated for cause, or who is reassigned, should consult with his or her major professor regarding use of research data gathered prior to termination or reassignment. Active graduate status is not affected by changes in assistantship appointment.

9.6 - Problems Associated with Behavior

The University has an obligation to provide a safe, harassment-free environment for study and for work. Students who exhibit violent or threatening behavior or harass others in violation of the Student Disciplinary Regulations may be subject to disciplinary action. One outcome of the student disciplinary process is dismissal from the University, lesser sanctions are more common. In rare cases, when a student is judged to present a clear and present danger to themselves or to others, the student may be involuntarily withdrawn from the University without prior hearing.

When a student seeks to transfer between programs or seeks to be reinstated to active status, the Graduate College and appropriate programs have the right to seek and disclose information related to violent, threatening or disruptive behavior in determining whether or not to accept or approve the transfer, admission, or reinstatement of a student to a program.

If a student feels that the information communicated was misleading or slanderous, he/she may appeal in writing to the Dean of the Graduate College.

9.7 - Student Grievance Procedures

Several formal avenues of appeal are available to graduate students depending on the nature of the grievance. Outlined in this section are procedures designed to handle grievances concerning grades and instruction and for grievances related to scholarly and professional competence. Other appeal routes are available within the student disciplinary process and for early termination of assistantship appointments. All procedures start at the department or program level and lead through a series of steps to higher appeal channels. If a student's complaint relates to a general policy, he or she may also bring the matter to the attention of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate either by contacting the department senator or the president of the Graduate Student Senate. Students also have the right to complain to the Dean of the Graduate College.

The following grievance procedures may not be used when students are afforded due process hearings or appeals as provided by university policy. For example, these grievance processes are not available for failure to meet clearly stated academic requirements, for All-University disciplinary processes, or where the graduate student has been granted an Academic Misconduct Investigatory hearing. A student may withdraw from any student-initiated grievance procedures outlined below by writing a signed and dated letter to the Dean of the Graduate College.

9.7.1 Grievances about Grades and Instruction

If a graduate student believes a faculty member, in his or her academic capacity, has behaved unfairly or unprofessionally, a grievance may be reviewed through the procedure described below. This procedure may not be invoked more than one year following completion of the course. An appeal of a course grade may not be initiated beyond midterm of the semester following the student's completion of the course.

Before initiating a formal appeal, the student may wish to discuss the situation informally with a staff member of the Dean of Students Office for advice on how to deal most effectively with the problem.

Grievances arising out of classroom or other academic situations should be resolved, if at all possible, with the individual instructor involved. If resolution cannot be reached, the student should discuss the grievance with the instructor's department executive officer and submit it in writing to him or her. The department executive officer will discuss the grievance with the instructor involved and/or refer it to a department grievance committee. The department executive officer should respond in writing to the student within five class days.

If a resolution of the grievance cannot be made with the department executive officer, the student may appeal in writing to the dean of the instructor’s college. In cases involving Graduate College policy or procedure the appeal should be made to the Dean of the Graduate College rather than to the dean of the instructor’s college. The dean will hear the explanations of the department executive officer and instructor, and should respond in writing within ten class days of receipt of the written notice of appeal.

If the grievance cannot be resolved with the dean, the student may forward a written appeal to the Provost, who will convene a quorum of the Committee to Review Student Grievances to hear the appeal within ten class days. Within five class days following the hearing, the Provost will make a decision in regard to the grievance and transmit this decision to the student, dean, department executive officer, and instructor involved.

An appeal of the decision of the Provost may be made to the President of the University. The time limit specified at each level may be extended by mutual agreement of all parties concerned.

9.7.2 Grievances Related to Scholarly and Professional Competence

Judgment of professional competence as demonstrated in such matters as qualifying, preliminary and final oral examinations, and other clearly stated program requirements concerning competence in the field of study is the responsibility of the academic program and Program of Study (POS) committee.

If a student feels that his or her scholarly or professional competence has not been evaluated fairly, he/she should first discuss the complaint with the person or persons most directly involved in the matter: a faculty member, major professor, POS committee, director of graduate education (DOGE), or department chair. If these discussions are unsuccessful and further adjudication is desired, the student may submit the grievance, which must be in writing, to the appropriate program grievance committee. If no such committee exists, the DOGE (or department chair when appropriate) will appoint one. The committee should respond in writing within twelve class days. The following procedures apply:

  • Each program offering graduate study must form a grievance committee composed of equal numbers of representatives from the program graduate faculty and graduate students. The grievance committee may be a standing committee or may be an ad hoc committee, depending upon the program.
  • The DOGE (or department chair) may serve as a nonvoting chairperson of the grievance committee.
  • Written records of the committee shall include the complaint itself, the disposition of the complaint, and any other information the committee deems pertinent. Written records of the program grievance committee are available for study by the complaining student and those making decisions at higher levels in the event of further appeal.
  • The program grievance committee deliberates in private except in instances where members feel the issue under consideration is of general interest and importance. In those cases, the committee may hold public meetings with the consent of both parties involved in the complaint.
  • The graduate student (or chosen representative or adviser) and the other party (or chosen representative or adviser) have the right to present their cases orally to the grievance committee.
  • The committee shall provide its written recommendation regarding the grievance to the DOGE (or department chair) of the student’s graduate major and to the student.
  • The DOGE (or department chair) will then provide a written response from the graduate program to the student.

A graduate student unsatisfied with program action may appeal in writing to the Dean of the Graduate College within 14 days. Upon receipt of the written appeal, the Dean forms a grievance appeal committee to review both substantive and procedural issues of the matter. The committee is constituted as follows:

  • One voting member selected by the Dean of the Graduate College from among the faculty membership of the Graduate Council.
  • One voting member selected by the relevant college dean.
  • One voting member selected by the Executive Committee of the Graduate Student Senate.
  • The committee may, in addition, request the participation of one nonvoting member selected by the relevant graduate program from among those faculty members who had not participated in the original program grievance procedures. The role of this nonvoting member is to provide consultation to the committee or student on matters of professional competence.
  • The dean of the Graduate College will respond to the student within 10 days, and the committee will attempt to reach a final determination within 30 days. It is understood, however, that this deadline is sometimes impossible to meet because of a need to interview key persons who are not available in the 30 day time frame. In such cases, every reasonable effort will be made to expedite the review and the plaintiff shall be informed of the delay in writing.

Program grievance committee provisions regarding the keeping of written records, opening of proceedings, and oral presentations also apply to the grievance appeal committee.

Each student presenting an appeal is expected to participate actively and responsively in the grievance process at this and each level of the procedure.

The grievance appeal committee submits its recommendation regarding the appeal to the Dean of the Graduate College for action. Graduate student(s) still unsatisfied with the disposition of the grievance—on matters of procedure only—may appeal in writing to the Provost and, if necessary, to the President of the University.

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