Sweetland Center for Writing

Updated and Approved August 2012

Two principles should be clearly understood as part of the context of any grade grievance:

  1. A grade given by a faculty member may be changed only by that faculty member (Faculty Code B 5.01). Sweetland’s grade grievance procedures are intended to result in a recommendation, for or against a change, to the appropriate faculty member.
  2. While Sweetland wishes to see demonstrably unfair grades rectified, it will not automatically invoke the full procedure described below for every grade grievance. For example, a grade grievance based on the argument that one instructor's grading standards are stricter than those of others will normally not be pursued.

When a student believes a grade is unfair and wishes to invoke the Sweetland grade grievance procedure, these steps are to be followed:

1.    Meet with the Instructor

The student should first confer with her/his instructor within the first 15 University business days of the first full term (i.e. Fall or Winter) following the term in which the disputed grade was issued to make sure that both are aware of all the pertinent facts and to identify the issues that are in dispute. For example, if a student is challenging a grade received in winter term 2012, the student must meet with the instructor before the end of the fifth week of fall term 2012.

2.    Write an appeal to the Associate Director

If the first step does not lead to a resolution, the student should then write a letter to Naomi Silver, Associate Director of Sweetland, detailing her/his objections and send it with both clean copies and original graded copies of all her/his written work for the course, and any other relevant work (e.g., new media assignments), to Molly Bancroft, Sweetland Center for Writing, 1310 North Quad, 1285 or mollyjb@umich.edu.  These materials must be received before the end of the fifth week of classes in the first full term following the term in which the disputed grade was issued. 

3.    Sweetland’s Associate Director requests written response from the Instructor

Upon receipt of the written grade grievance, the Associate Director will ask the instructor to provide a written summary restating how the final grade was determined and to respond to the specific claims made by the student.

4.    Sweetland’s Associate Director reviews materials

If the Associate Director determines there is insufficient evidence for the grade grievance, the matter is closed and the original grade stands.

If the Associate Director determines that the objections presented by the student point to possible unfairness, she will recommend to the Director of the Sweetland Center for Writing that a Grade Grievance Committee be appointed. Such a committee normally will consist of the Associate Director, at least one other faculty member, and at least one undergraduate.

5.    Hearing with the Grade Grievance Committee, when necessary

Within two weeks of the appointment of the Grade Grievance Committee, the committee will arrange a hearing at which both parties to the dispute will be asked to appear. No additional persons will be permitted at the hearing without the advance approval of the committee, which, if it agrees to such persons, will see to it that the same privileges are extended to both sides. Prior to this hearing, both the student filing the grade grievance and the respective instructor will be provided with copies of the written student complaint and the instructor’s summary.

The purpose of the hearing will be to allow the committee to inform itself as fully as possible. The student will first be asked to present the basis of her/his complaint, the instructor will then be asked to explain how grades were determined, followed by an open period for questions to all parties.

6.    Grade Grievance Committee Decisions

After the hearing, the Grade Grievance Committee will have ten University business days to arrive at a recommendation.

If the committee decides that a grade change is not warranted, the Associate Director will inform the student and the instructor in writing and the matter is considered closed.

If the committee recommends a grade change, the Associate Director will inform the instructor. The instructor will be asked to respond in writing within five University business days to the Associate Director indicating whether or not she/he will abide by the recommendation from the committee. If the instructor agrees to a grade change, the Associate Director will inform the student in writing of the instructor’s decision and the student’s final grade will be changed.

If the instructor does not accept the recommendation to change the grade, the original grade stands.  The Associate Director will inform the student in writing of this decision and the matter is considered closed. 

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