Resolving Academic Grievances – BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School

Resolving Academic Grievances

Despite the well-meaning efforts of students and instructors alike, there may be times when students feel that they have been treated unjustly or that their work has been evaluated unfairly or inadequately by an instructor.  In such an instance, the following guidelines apply:

1. The student should first bring the grievance to the attention of the instructor involved who is better acquainted with the situation than any other member of the faculty.  Most instructors are anxious to work through differences with their students in a sensitive and fair-minded manner.

If (a) the instructor is not available, (b) the student feels strongly that the instructor will not deal with the grievance fairly, or (c) bringing the grievance to the attention of the instructor does not resolve the problem to the student’s satisfaction, the student may appeal to the Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs.  He or she will consider the grievance and, within 30 days, will notify the student and the instructor of the decision.  The decision can include a grade change; however, the Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs will sustain the original grade if it has a reasonable basis and is not arbitrary or capricious.

2. If the student is dissatisfied with the Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs’ decision, the student may appeal in writing to the Dean no later than 30 days after the date of the Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs’ notification letter.  The written appeal should include the details of the grievance and an outline of the student’s efforts to resolve it prior to making this appeal to the Dean.

3. The Dean will give the student the choice of having the grievance resolved directly by him or her or by a three-member committee chaired by a full-time member of the faculty selected by the Dean.  Should the student choose to have the grievance appeal heard by the three-person committee, the other two committee members will be appointed by the student and the instructor, respectively.  Each must either be a full-time student or a full-time faculty member.

4. When the grievance is heard by the Dean or the committee, both the student and the instructor may call witnesses to be questioned by the other party and by the Dean or committee members.  The number of witnesses and the conduct of the hearing will be determined by the Dean or the committee chair.

5. The Dean’s or committee’s decision (by majority vote) will be final and not subject to appeal.  The decision can include a grade change.  The Dean or the committee will sustain the original grade if, after full consideration, it has a reasonable basis and is not arbitrary or capricious.

6. The same appeal process is available to the instructor.  In other words, if the instructor is not satisfied with the Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs’ decision, he or she may appeal to the Dean.

7. The student must bring the grievance to the attention of the instructor or the Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs within one calendar year from the last day of the examination period in the semester in which the problem originated.  For example, if the grievance occurred in a course offered in a winter semester, the student must initiate the grievance procedure before the final day of the following year’s winter semester examination period.  Where military service or an LDS mission makes it difficult to bring the problem to the attention of the instructor or Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs, a later consideration may be permitted.

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