Women's Studies Department
Instructors have the responsibility and authority to assign grades to students in
their courses. While instructors may have different standards in grading, grading should
not be capricious or biased, but reflect the standards operative in the course. This
document outlines the procedure to follow if a student in a Women’s Studies course
disputes a grade.
I. Required Informal Process
- Students are required to present the dispute to the instructor and obtain a response. While the process may begin with a GSI, the student must have had a meeting or other communication with the instructor before moving proceeding to the next step.
- If the grievance is against the department Chair or the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in her capacity as an instructor, another faculty member shall be designated to handle the grievance.
- If the student and the instructor are unable to resolve the complaint they must meet with the Women’s Studies Department Director of Undergraduate Studies or designate and discuss the complaint. The DUS or designate shall mediate between the student and the instructor, either via email or in person, and resolve the matter if possible. If mediation is not successful, the student may file a formal grade grievance with the Women’s Studies Department.
II. Formal Grade Grievance Process
- Students may not begin the formal grievance process until a final grade has actually been assigned in a course.
- The student may decide to drop the grievance at any time in the process.
- All proceedings of the grade grievance process will be treated as strictly confidential by all concerned.
- The formal grievance process begins with a written complaint from the student, which must be filed with the instructor and the Women’s Studies Department office within a month after receipt of the grade or a month into the following full term. The written complaint must explain the student’s reasons for requesting a change in grade.
- The instructor must reply in writing within three weeks of receipt of the complaint and file the reply in the Department Office. If the instructor is on leave or away from campus, all reasonable attempts should be made to contact her/him. If the instructor is off campus the director may solicit a letter from her/him, in which s/he describes his/her position. This letter must state reasons for the assignment of the grade in question.
- After receiving this information from both the student and the instructor, the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) will then determine if sufficient evidence exists to convene a formal review by a departmental committee. If the DUS determines that there is insufficient evidence for the grade grievance, the matter is considered closed, and the original grade stands.
- If there is sufficient evidence to proceed, the DUS will then promptly arrange a formal review. The review committee will be drawn from the Women’s Studies Executive Committee and will include two student representatives, two instructors, and the DUS or designate. Alternates may be chosen at the discretion of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. An effort will be made to ensure that the review committee is fair in the eyes of both parties. The committee should not include students in the class in question or a class currently taught by the instructor. At least one person at the same level as the complainant (undergraduate or graduate student) should be on the committee.
- The Director of Undergraduate Studies shall schedule the hearing in consultation with the student and set a date and time agreeable to all. Alternates may be used for the student and instructor representatives if any of them are unable to attend.Hearings may be rescheduled for emergencies or other critical scheduling problems only. If a student complainant does not appear for the hearing on the scheduled date and there is no such reason for rescheduling, the hearing will not be rescheduled.
- Should the departmental review take place during the summer months and student representatives are not available, the student placing the grievance has the option of waiving the presence of student representatives at their level or of asking that the committee wait until the fall term when students are available.
- The Director of Undergraduate Studies or designate will chair the hearing.
- Only the grievance stated in the written complaint will be considered by the grade grievance committee.
- The instructor and the student should appear before the committee at the same time. They will each present an oral statement in addition to the written statement. Committee members may ask questions of both. The student and faculty member will each be allowed one rebuttal after the complete statement of the other is given. Each may call a reasonable number of witnesses who may make brief statements after the oral statement of the person they are supporting. Witnesses must leave the hearing after they make their statement. Advisors or counselors may not be present for either party.
- All disputed course work and correspondence will be made available to the complainant, the instructor, and members of the review hearing. It is the student’s responsibility to produce the original copy of all disputed course work. If the original work has not been returned to the student, it is the responsibility of the instructor to produce the original work. In addition, it is the responsibility of the instructor to produce all grading records and grading policies. The committee is free to hear any evidence that will help them decide the grievance. The committee may call for other evidence as it pertains to the case.
- The sole ground for disputing a grade within the Women’s Studies Department is that it reflects inequitable conduct on the part of the instructor of the course. The grade grievance panel is tasked solely with deciding whether the instructor displayed inequitable conduct in the situation presented.
- If the committee determines that the instructor has displayed inequitable conduct, it should issue a written recommendation to the instructor to change the grade.
- If the instructor refuses, the review committee will prepare a letter setting forth its view to be entered in the student’s file.
- If the review committee finds that the instructor has not displayed inequitable conduct, then the grade stands.
- A faculty member on the committee shall communicate the decision to the student and the instructor separately at the end of the proceedings.
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