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Grievances Procedures

Graduate Student Handbook

While our goal should be to resolve disagreements, misunderstandings and conflicts through discussions among those involved, there are times when more formal procedures of resolution are needed in order to resolve student grievances. For this reason, students in the College of Education may seek redress of grievances through various agencies and procedures within the college and the broader university. The sections that follow describe procedures to be employed in appealing specific types of grievances. 

If a student feels his or her grievance is not addressed by one of the procedures below, however, or the student is unsure how to proceed and would like advice on available options for recourse, that student may meet with the Associate Dean for the College of Education (A325 Iacocca Hall, 610-758-3249), the Dean of Students Office (Williams Hall, Suite 380; 610-758-4156; kwl211@lehigh.edu) or one of the university ombudspersons.

 

Mark/Grade Appeals

  1. A student (or group of students) questioning the validity of an assigned mark must file a written appeal with the course instructor no later than the last day of classes of the semester following receipt of the final course mark. In the case of spring and summer courses, this means the last day of class of the fall semester, while for fall courses, this means the last day of classes of the spring semester. These deadlines do not, however, limit the ability to correct a mark/grade based on miscalculation or data entry error.
  2. In this written appeal, the student(s) shall, using the Mark/Grade Appeal form, provide the title and number of the course taken, the name of the course’s instructor(s), the term (Fall, spring, summer) and year in which the course was taken, the specific mark under appeal and what it covered (for example, homework assignment, project, presentation, field experience, final course mark) and a detailed description of the reason(s) the assigned mark is inappropriate. Students may obtain the Mark/Grade Appeal form online, or from either the program coordinator for their program or the departmental coordinator.
  3. If the student(s) and instructor(s) are unable to resolve the disagreement to the satisfaction of the student(s), the written appeal –now with a written response from the instructor(s)— moves forward to the director of the academic program. (In certain cases involving adjunct instructors, however, the appeal may go first to a faculty supervisor appointed by the academic program. If such a supervisor is involved, he or she meets with the student(s) and instructor(s) and attempts to help resolve the disagreement. If unable to do so, that supervisor adds his or her comments on the merits of the appeal and sends the appeal packet to the program director.) 

The program director meets with the parties to seek a resolution. If the program director is unable to facilitate resolution, he or she adds comments on the merits of the appeal to the appeal package and it then moves to the department chair who follows the same procedures in attempting to resolve the difference. If he or she is also unsuccessful, the appeal package –now including the department chair’s comments—moves to the Dean of the College of Education who examines the entire packet, interviews the student(s) and instructor(s) —if the dean deems such interviews necessary– and issues a decision on the grade appeal.

  1. If, upon receiving the decision of the dean, the student or students involved still wish to pursue appeal, they may use the formal university graduate petition process described below under Right of Appeal of Academic Grievances. 

Redress of Grievances Based on Discrimination

Any student complaint of discrimination, if such complaint is not within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Standing of Graduate Students (SOGS) or the university judicial system, shall be dealt with in accordance with the university discrimination grievance procedures. This includes appeals regarding accommodations granted by the Office of Academic Support for Students with Learning Disabilities. 

For the purpose of these procedures, a grievance is a claim that a student has been discriminated against on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status, in violation of the university's policy on Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Non-Discrimination. 

Before filing a formal grievance, the complainant should discuss the complaint with the Associate Dean of Students (Williams Hall Suite 390; 610-758-4159; lob3@lehigh.edu) who will then advise on an appropriate course of action. This step provides an opportunity for the informal resolution of a situation that may be discriminatory. In such a resolution, the Associate Dean of Students may refer the student to other sources of help or serve as a mediator between the student and the perceived source of the problem. 

Where the matter is not subject to informal resolution, the student may file a formal grievance with the Associate Dean of Students (Williams Hall, 390; 610-758-4159) who serves as designee for the Provost for receipt of such grievances under the university's Policy on Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Non-Discrimination. Such formal grievances will be handled using the university discrimination grievance procedures detailed in the university student handbook.

Redress of Grievances Based on Harassment

Grievances based on harassment are covered under university procedures specified in the university policy on harassment.  To obtain a copy of the policy, as well as information on the university person(s) you should contact, please visit: https://eocc.lehigh.edu/

Redress of Other Course-related Academic Grievances

  1. A student (or group of students) with a complaint that arises out of any course but is not covered by one of the procedures above should bring the complaint first to the instructor of the course in which the source of the grievance occurred. This grievance may be presented orally, although the student(s) should make clear the nature of the grievance and what action he/she/they would like taken to resolve that grievance. 
  2. If, after meeting with the instructor, students do not feel satisfied, they prepare a written grievance to take to the director of the academic program in which the course is offered. This written grievance, which must be completed using the Course-related Non-grade Grievance form, shall document the title and number of the course taken, the name of the course’s instructor(s), the term (fall, spring, summer) and year in which the course was taken, a description of the events or actions leading to the complaint and a proposed resolution to the complaint. Students may obtain the Course-related Non-grade Grievance form online, or from either the program coordinator for their program or the departmental coordinator.
  3. The program director asks the instructor(s) to submit a written response to the grievance and attaches this response to the student grievance packet. The program director then meets with the parties to seek a resolution. If unable to do so, he or she adds comments to the grievance package and it then moves to the department chair who follows the same procedures in attempting to resolve the situation. If he or she is also unsuccessful, the grievance package –now including the department chair’s comments— moves to the Dean of the College of Education who examines the entire packet, interviews the student(s) and instructor(s) —if the dean deems such interviews necessary– and issues a decision on the grievance.
  4. If the student/group of students has/have serious concerns about meeting with the instructor, he/she/they may skip the meeting described under #1 above and move the grievance directly to the director of the academic program. Similarly, if students have serious concerns about meeting with the program director (#2 above), the grievance may move directly to the department chair. In either case, the grievance must be written, being sure to include the information specified in #2 above.

While skipping individuals in the hierarchical grievance procedure is not a recommended course of action, if students have serious concerns about holding such meetings, they may choose to do so. This does not, however, eliminate the ability of the individual skipped to respond to the grievance packet. It simply eliminates the face-to-face meeting that might have resolved the grievance without moving to the next higher level. If students have such serious concerns, they may consult the Associate Dean for the College of Education (A325 Iacocca Hall, 610-758-3249), the Dean of Students Office (UC 210; 610-758-4156; http://www.lehigh.edu/~indost/) or one of the university ombudspersons (http://www.lehigh.edu/~inombuds/contact.html) for guidance on how to submit the grievance.

  1. If, upon receiving the decision of the dean, the student or students involved still wish to seek redress, they may use the formal university graduate petition process described below under Right of Appeal of Academic Grievances. 

Redress of Non-course-related Grievances

  1. A graduate student (or group of graduate students) with a grievance related to an activity outside courses –including research activities— that is not covered by one of the procedures listed above, should bring that grievance first to the responsible faculty or staff member. In the meeting with that faculty or staff member, students may describe their grievance orally, provided that they make clear the nature of the grievance and how they would wish it redressed.
  2. If, after meeting with the responsible faculty or staff member, students wish to pursue the matter further, they use the Non-course-related Grievance form to prepare a written grievance that (1) identifies the individuals involved, (2) notes when the events or actions leading to the grievance occurred, (3) describes why they were inappropriate and (4) proposes actions to resolve the grievance. Students may obtain the Non-course-related Grievance form online, or from either the program coordinator for their program or the departmental coordinator.
  3. The written grievance then moves to the appropriate program director or university supervisor, who asks the responsible faculty or staff member to submit a written response to the grievance and attaches this response to the student grievance packet. The program director or university supervisor then meets with the parties involved and seeks to resolve the grievance. If unable to do so, he or she adds comments on the merits of the grievance to the grievance package and it then moves to the department chair who follows the same procedures in attempting to resolve the situation. If he or she is unsuccessful, the grievance package –now including the department chair’s comments— moves to the Dean of the College of Education who examines the entire packet, interviews the student(s) and responsible faculty or staff member —if the dean deems such interviews necessary– and issues a decision on the grievance.
  4. If the student/group of students has/have serious concerns about meeting with the responsible faculty or staff member, he/she/they may skip the meeting described under #1 above and move the grievance directly to the director of the academic program or the appropriate university staff supervisor. Similarly, if students have serious concerns about meeting with the program director or university staff supervisor (#3 above), the grievance may move directly to the department chair. In either case, the grievance must be written, being sure to include the information specified in #2 above. 

While skipping individuals in the hierarchical grievance procedure is not a recommended course of action, if students have serious concerns about such meetings, they may choose to do so. This does not, however, eliminate the ability of the individual skipped to respond to the grievance packet. It simply eliminates the face-to-face meeting that might have resolved the grievance without moving to the next higher level. If students have such serious concerns, they may consult the Associate Dean for the College of Education (A325 Iacocca Hall, 610-758-4443), the Dean of Students Office (Williams Hall, Suite 380; 610-758-4156; kwl211@lehigh.edu) or one of the university ombudspersons (https://www1.lehigh.edu/ombuds/contact ) for guidance on how to submit the grievance.

  1. If, upon receiving the decision of the dean, the student or students involved still wish to seek redress, they may use the formal university graduate petition process described below under Right of Appeal of Academic Grievances. 

Right of Appeal of Academic Grievances

In general, a graduate student has the right to petition on any academic matter of concern. Petition forms are available online, or from all program coordinators in the College of Education, as well as the Deans Office (A325 Iacocca Hall).

With the exception of grievances involving discrimination and harassment, which are covered by separate policies and sets of procedures, student failing to gain satisfaction using the procedures described above may appeal by petition to the Committee on Standing of Graduate Students (SOGS). This committee includes the graduate associate deans of all four colleges, the Director of Graduate Student Life and a representative from the Graduate and Research Committee (GRC). The SOGS committee meets regularly with the Registrar and considers all graduate petitions. The Registrar’s Office notifies the petitioner of the decision of the committee.

If a petitioner is not satisfied with the decision of the SOGS Committee, he or she may appeal the decision to the full GRC. Appeals to the full GRC are, however, rare and the appellant must make clear in writing why the decision of the SOGS Committee was inappropriate and why whatever resolution the petitioner proposes is more appropriate.