The Appeal Process for Change of Course Grade applies to students and both full-time and part-time faculty members in all schools and colleges except the School of Law. Language specific to the USFFA contract is noted as appropriate. Procedural differences for School of Management students and faculty members in Professional Bachelor’s and Professional Master’s Degree programs are also noted as appropriate.
When a student believes that his or her final grade for a course was unfair, the student may use the process described herein to seek resolution of the matter. The burden of proving a claim of an unfair grade (e.g. discrimination, unjust treatment, or errors in calculation) rests with the student. Grades are awarded or changed only by the course instructor or through this appeals process. An appealed grade may be raised or lowered during the course of this appeals process. The parties should make every effort to achieve consensus and to resolve conflicts at the lowest level and as quickly as possible, especially in cases where a student’s timely academic progress is in jeopardy.
The student must direct an appeal in writing to the course instructor involved within the first 30 days of the next semester for the Fall and Spring semesters or 30 days after the grade is available online for Intersession or Summer Session. The appeal must include presentation of whatever evidence of unfair evaluation the student believes is relevant. Once the time limit has expired, an appeal will not be taken forward unless the student could not reasonably have known about the alleged injustice within that time; in that case the student must appeal within 30 days of discovering the alleged injustice. It is the responsibility of all parties to make every effort to resolve their differences between themselves and informally.
If at any stage of the grade appeal process an allegation of academic dishonesty becomes known for the first time, this Grade Appeal Process shall be suspended and the case referred to the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee. The Academic Honesty Hearing Committee will make a written report of its findings to the parties involved. If the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee finds the student not guilty of academic dishonesty, the student shall then have the right to decide whether or not to return to the Appeal Process for Change of Grade. If the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee finds the student guilty of academic dishonesty, then the instructor’s grade will stand and the student will not have the right to return to the Appeal Process for Change of Grade. The Academic Honesty Hearing Committee does not have the authority to alter a student’s grade and should not consider in any way the merits of the grade itself; the only questions are whether academic dishonesty did occur, and if so, what the appropriate sanction(s) should be.
At any stage, any of the parties may invite the University Ombudsperson to help facilitate an agreement.
Dean Consultation Process
The parties may decide to expedite the appeal procedure by consulting the dean (in the school or college within which the course resides) for an informal resolution. If they decide to consult the dean, the dean’s decision may not be appealed through the formal process but shall be final and binding. If the student and faculty member cannot resolve the matter between themselves within 30 days and do not agree to consult the dean, the student may appeal through the formal process below. If the faculty member is absent from campus or otherwise unavailable during the 30 days, then the student may proceed directly to the formal process below.
Grade Appeal Committee Process
Adherence to the time requirements listed below in the formal process are the responsibility of the faculty member and the student. If the student does not adhere to them, then the instructor’s grade will stand. If the faculty member does not adhere to them, then the student may appeal to the dean of the college in which the course was offered to expedite the process. If the faculty member still fails to respond in a timely manner the student may proceed with the appeal directly to the appropriate dean or to Step Two of the Committee Process. This choice will be at the student’s discretion.
STEP ONE: (Note: School of Management Professional Bachelor’s and Professional Master’s program students studying at additional campuses may move directly to Step Two if full-time faculty members are not available.)
The first step in the Committee Process is for the student and instructor mutually to select another full-time faculty member within the same school or college as the course instructor. This mutually selected faculty member (the third-party faculty member) shall examine all relevant evidence presented by the two parties and make a recommendation. The third-party faculty member shall be chosen within two weeks after the appeal is presented and shall render a recommendation within one week after examining the evidence. Upon request by the student, time limits may be extended in order to accommodate the Intersession or Summer Session calendars.
If the student and the course instructor cannot agree on a third-party faculty member or cannot or do not choose a third-party faculty member, then the chair of the department or the faculty coordinator of the program involved shall make this selection. If the course instructor is also the chair or coordinator and cannot agree with the student on a suitable third-party faculty member, the student may move directly to Step Two.
In addition to the third-party faculty member, a qualified student (i.e., any undergraduate or graduate student in good academic standing, with at least a 3.0 GPA, within the college in which the appeal is being processed) may be selected, at the sole discretion of the student who has appealed, to assist the student in any appropriate manner, whether as an advocate, another mediator, or an observer.
The third-party faculty member shall make his or her written recommendation to the student and instructor simultaneously. The objective shall be to reach consensus based on the third-party faculty member’s recommendation.
The third-party faculty member shall complete a Step One Grade Appeal Form available in the deans’ offices stating the basis of the claim, the recommendation he or she has made, and whether the parties have accepted the recommendation. This form shall be placed in the student’s official University record at the conclusion of the appeals process, with copies given to both the student and involved instructor.
STEP TWO: If no consensus is reached at Step One, the student may appeal within one week to the full-time faculty in the department or program in which the course was offered by notifying the department/area chair, program director or coordinator. Notification must be in writing, including supporting materials. As necessary, the department/area chair, program director or coordinator may select additional faculty to make the necessary quorum of three full-time faculty. The faculty members shall consider an appeal within 20 working days after receiving the student’s written request. These faculty members shall constitute the Course Grade Appeal Committee and shall hold a hearing on the appeal where both the course instructor and student involved are present. In the hearing, the faculty members shall not be bound by formal rules of courtroom evidence. The basic standard for admission of evidence shall be due process and fairness to the student and the faculty member. The student may be accompanied by an adviser of his or her choosing. The role of the adviser is limited to assistance and support to the student in presenting his or her case. The adviser is not allowed to actively participate in the hearing, which includes speaking for the student. After hearing the relevant evidence, the faculty members shall deliberate and reach a decision, which shall be final and binding. (The course instructor and student involved shall not be present during the deliberations and vote.)
A change of grade requires at least a two-thirds vote of those present and voting. Absent such a two-thirds vote the original grade shall stand.
The department/area chair, program director or coordinator shall note the final resolution of the appeal on the Step Two Grade Appeal Form and send copies to the University Registrar’s office, the office of the dean of the college or school in which the course resides, the student, and the course instructor involved.