Germanic Languages and Literatures Department
Updated and Approved February 2012
The faculty of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures recognizes that instances may arise where a student feels that his or her academic performance has been unfairly or improperly graded due to prejudice, capricious changes in course requirements, inconsistency in the criteria applied to judge the student's work, or clerical error. Although an unfair or improper grade should certainly be changed, the following principles must be understood: (1) a grade given by a faculty member can be changed only by that faculty member (Faculty Code B 5.07); (2) a grade given by a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) can only be changed by that GSI, or by the faculty supervisor of that course; (3) these grievance procedures are intended to result in a recommendation to change or not to change a grade, and will not supersede the faculty member's judgment of a student's performance.
If a student believes that he or she has received an unfair or improper grade for a course in this department, these steps should be taken:
- Within two weeks of the subsequent term of receiving the grade in question, the student should confer with the instructor and attempt to resolve the issue. The student will be expected to write a thorough rationale (calculation) for what s/he expected his/her grade to be and submit this calculation to the instructor. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of this meeting, the instructor or supervisor must make available to the student a copy of these procedures, in order that the student may proceed with the grievance properly and promptly.
- If the first step does not produce a solution that is agreeable to the student, and if the instructor is a German 101-232 Graduate Student Instructor or Lecturer, the student is to submit a written appeal to the language program coordinator. The student must initiate this appeal no later than ten days after the meeting with the instructor. If this does not produce a solution that is agreeable to the student, then the language coordinator, student, and instructor will involve the Chair of the Department. The student is to submit to the department’s Chair a written appeal, citing all relevant factors, and attach papers, homework assignments, tests, and other supporting evidence. The student must initiate this appeal (to the Chair) no later than one week after the meeting with the language program coordinator. If the issue is not resolved at this point, the process continues with step (4) below.
- For a student in a class other than German 101-232, or a course taught by a Visiting, Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor, the student is to submit to the Chair of the Department a written appeal, citing all relevant factors, and attach papers, homework assignments, tests, and other supporting evidence. The student must initiate this appeal no later than ten days after the meeting with the instructor. If the issue is not resolved at this point, the process continues with step (4) below.
- If the Chair, instructor, and student cannot produce a solution, the Chair of the Department will appoint a Grievance Committee to review the appeal. The committee will consist of the Department Chair, one additional professor, one undergraduate advisor, and a student from the Student Advisory Committee.
- The Chair of the Department will ask the instructor to respond to the appeal in writing; this response should be submitted no later than two weeks after the student's initial appeal to the Chair. The Chair will distribute copies of this response, of the student's letter of appeal, and of all other relevant documents, to the members of the Grievance Committee; the Department’s Chair will also make a copy of the instructor's response available to the student.
- Within two weeks after the committee has been appointed, the committee will conduct a hearing at which the instructor, the course supervisor (if any), and the student must be present, and at which they may present their cases orally. The time and place of the hearing will be announced at least one week in advance. If the instructor is off campus, the Chair of the Department will solicit a letter from him/her in which the instructor's position is set forth.
- Immediately after the hearing, the committee will consider the matter and arrive at its recommendation. The recommendation will be delivered in writing to the instructor, with copies to the course supervisor (if any), and to the student. The committee may recommend:
- that the grade be changed;
- that the grade not be changed; or
- that some other solution be sought, e.g., additional time to write a paper.
- If the instructor refuses to follow a recommendation to change the grade, then the grade will stand. The student, however, may request that the Chair of the Department provide him or her with a letter recording the decision of the Grievance Committee, and the faculty member's refusal to follow its recommendation. The student may request to have a copy of the letter retained by the Office of the Assistant Dean.
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