The School of Integrative Studies academic grievance processes currently in place vary based on the type of grievance and the desire by the person pursuing the grievance to handle it informally or formally. Below is an outline of current practice.
The vast majority of concerns, issues, or grievances of SIS students are handled through informal channels. Specific channels for grievance include the Executive Director. In addition, students can contact the SIS office to discuss their situation and options (4th floor Enterprise Hall, 703-993-1436). Our informal processes are usually problem-solving processes where tools or options are suggested to address issues.
Additionally, problems concerning courses and course formats can be addressed through final course evaluations. The final evaluation provides feedback to both the faculty and the administration of the school to identify potential problems.
Formal Processes - Grade Appeals:
Although faculty members are generally the best judges of student performance, there may be times when a student believes a grade is unfair. In such cases, the student should first ask the faculty member to reconsider the grade. Then, if the student is not satisfied, an appeal may be made to the head of the unit offering the course (Executive Director). The recipient of the appeal should ask the student to return to the faculty member who assigned the grade for further consultation.
If the instructor is no longer associated with the university, the local administrator of the unit offering the course will appoint a faculty surrogate, who will assume magisterial authority of the instructor of record at this level of appeal.
If a mutually satisfactory agreement is not reached, the student may request that the Executive Director form a committee of three faculty peers of the faculty member who assigned the grade. If the Executive Director believes the student’s complaint is not legitimate, this reservation is reported to their supervisor, usually the dean. No review is conducted unless the dean believes the complaint has merit.
The faculty member or the student may challenge and have replaced one of the three members of the committee without giving a reason for the challenge. The committee meets separately with the faculty member and the student to explore the full particulars of the case. A nonparticipating observer of the student’s choice may attend the meeting. Every effort is made to avoid an adversarial relationship.
After the committee has reviewed the case thoroughly, it issues to the Executive Director (with a copy to the faculty member) a written recommendation that includes the reasons for its findings. At this time, the faculty member has an opportunity to take the recommended action, if any. If the matter is not resolved at this point, the Executive Director considers the committee recommendation and makes a recommendation to the dean. The decision of the dean is not subject to further appeal. If the dean decides that a change of grade is appropriate and the faculty member refuses to make the change, then the dean may direct the Office of the University Registrar to do so.
Grade appeals are not accepted after the last day of classes of the following semester (spring for fall grades, fall for spring and summer grades). The Provost’s Office does not consider grade appeals, nor does the University Academic Appeals Committee.
Appeals of Academic Decisions
The policies of the School of Integrative Studies are designed to be consistent, equitable, and transparent. Our office strives to be thorough, timely, and open to answer any questions students may have regarding our decisions and/or the process through which they were reached. Students seeking clarification and explanation of the decision should request an appointment with an academic advisor in the student’s degree program to discuss their concerns.
Students have the right to appeal decisions regarding requests for academic actions. This step can only be taken after a request to meet with the Executive Director. Students who wish to pursue an appeal after this meeting should do so only if they can provide sufficient and compelling reasons for their initial claim to be reconsidered. Such reasons include newly available documentation, proof of an irregularity in procedures, proof of inequity or inconsistency, or consequences so serious that further review is warranted. A student’s dissatisfaction or disagreement with the decision does not constitute sufficient reason for a decision to be changed. Appeals are first reviewed by the Executive Director. If denied, the appeal is forwarded to the Dean. The decision of the Dean is the final decision of the college.
If the appeal is a case involving a college-level policy, the Dean serves as the final point of appeal. If the appeal involves university level policies, students must first complete the college- level appeal process before appealing to the Provost’s Office.