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D176: Graduate Student Grievance Procedures

Policy

Approved by Faculty Senate Graduate Committee 10/20/1994
Revisions approved March 6, 1997 by Faculty Senate Graduate Committee

The Graduate Student Academic Grievance (GSAG) Procedures have been established to address complaints, disputes, or grievances of an academic nature initiated by students enrolled in graduate degree programs at the University of New Mexico. Although conflicts that on occasion occur between students and faculty or administrators may be resolved through formal adjudication, a more informal and productive kind of resolution -- one that is mutually agreed upon by the parties involved -- is strongly encouraged.

The GSAG procedures are available for the resolution of a variety of possible issues related to the academic process. These may include, but are not limited to, issues related to progress toward a degree and allegedly improper or unreasonable treatment, except that grievances based upon alleged discrimination or sexual harassment should be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO). The procedures may not be used to challenge the denial of admission to a degree program, nor to appeal the refusal of a petition by the Dean of Graduate Studies for an exception to University-wide degree requirements, policies or procedures.

1. A student with a complaint related to academic matters is encouraged to consult with the Office of Graduate Studies to discuss his/her concerns, seek to clarify pertinent rules and regulations governing graduate study, and explore constructive ways to resolve the problem directly with the faculty member or administrator involved. This should occur as soon as reasonably possible after the student has become aware of the problem.

2. The student should then arrange a meeting with the faculty or administrator involved in the complaint to address the problem and to explore the possibility of a jointly achieved resolution.

3. If agreement cannot be reached, the student may seek the assistance of the departmental faculty graduate advisor and/or the chair in resolving the dispute. If the dispute is with a faculty member in a department different from the student¹s, the appropriate chair or advisor would be in the department in which the faculty member resides or in which the course in which the dispute arose was offered. It is expected that these administrators will play an active part in helping to resolve the disagreement. In the event that the graduate unit involved is non-departmentalized, the student may go directly to the dean or director of that unit for assistance.

4. If the matter cannot be resolved at the departmental level, the student may bring the problem to the attention of the school or college Dean. The school or college Dean will determine whether to adjudicate the dispute or to refer the student to the Dean of Graduate Studies for a resolution If the dispute is with a faculty member in a school or college different from the student is, the appropriate dean would be the one in the unit in which the faculty member resides, or in which the course in which the dispute arose was offered.

In the resolution of grievances at the level of a school or college Dean or the Dean of Graduate Studies, the following procedures will apply, as described also in the Pathfinder, under "Student Grievance Procedure," Sections 2.3.1. - 2.3.7.

a.student must submit a formal, written statement of his/her grievance. This document should summarize the facts that support the grievance, indicate the desired resolution, and describe the efforts already made at reaching that resolution, as well as their outcome. The faculty or staff member against whom a grievance has been filed will be sent a copy of the written statement, and will have two weeks in which to respond in writing to the Dean.

b.Dean will review all written materials submitted, and provide both parties the opportunity to review and respond to all evidence. The Dean will interview each party, as well as any other persons who may have relevant information. The Dean may elect to hold an informal hearing involving both the parties to the grievance and witnesses. If such a hearing is held, the parties will be given five days notice. Each party will be allowed to bring an advisor to the hearing, but will not be permitted legal representation. Cross examination of witnesses will be permitted, although the Dean may require that questions be directed though him/her. 

c.Dean may choose to convene an advisory committee to help evaluate the grievance. A school or college Dean may utilize a standing committee from that unit; the Dean of Graduate Studies will utilize the Senate Graduate Committee. 

d.Generally, a written report on the grievance will be issued by the Dean within a period of four weeks after it has been formally filed. (This period may be extended to allow for University holidays or other periods when the University is not in session.) The report will explain the Dean¹s findings, conclusions, his/her decision, and the basis for that decision. A copy will be sent to each party, and to the chairperson or supervisor of the faculty or staff member involved. 

e.The decision of the Dean may be appealed by either party to the Office of the Provost within a period of two weeks. The Provost will reconsider that decision only if there are substantive, procedural grounds for doing so (for example, significant evidence that was not accepted or has arisen since the Dean¹s decision was announced). The decision of the Provost is final.

PETITION TO MODIFY ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS

Graduate students may petition the Dean of Graduate Studies for an exception to any of the University-wide policies or regulations specified in the University Catalog. Petitions are intended to allow students the opportunity to deal with unusual or extraordinary events, particularly circumstances beyond their control, that would penalize them unfairly. It should be kept in mind, however, that a hallmark of fairness is the uniform application of the same standards and deadlines to all students.

A petition should be initiated and signed by the student in the form of a memo or letter addressed to the Dean of Graduate Studies. It should clearly state the specific nature of the exception or special consideration being requested, and provide a complete but concise justification. If the request involves the extension of a deadline, a proposed new deadline date should be indicated. Before considering a petition, the Dean will require that the student have an approved "Application for Candidacy" on file at the office of Graduate Studies (OGS). If this has not already been submitted, both documents may be turned in simultaneously, with the petition attached to the front.

Petitions must be submitted in the sequence listed below:

1. The student must first submit the petition to his/her graduate advisor. The advisor should indicate whether he/she endorses the student's request, and why.

2. The petition must next be submitted to the student's graduate unit -- the faculty graduate director, the chair, or the departmental graduate committee, depending upon the practice in the particular unit. The student may choose to submit the petition to the graduate unit even if it was not endorsed by the advisor. The unit should also indicate whether it supports or does not support the student¹s request, and why.

3. The petition should then be forwarded to the Office of Graduate Studies. The student may choose to submit the petition to the OGS even if it was not supported by his/her academic unit. In certain cases, the Dean or his/her designee may ask the Senate Graduate Committee, serving in an advisory capacity, to review the petition and offer its recommendation for approval or disapproval. The decision of the Dean is final.

A written response to a petition will usually be mailed to the student within two weeks from its receipt by OGS, and a copy sent to the academic unit. (This period may be extended to allow for University holidays or other periods when the University is not in session.) The original petition will be retained in the student's file at OGS. Petitions that are lacking required documentation will be returned to the student, and will not be considered until all documentation has been received. Inquiries regarding the status of a petition should be directed to the Academic Records Assistant at (505) 277-2714.

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Phone: (505) 277-4664
handbook@unm.edu

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