- Purpose - The purpose of these procedures is to provide all undergraduate and graduate students taking courses within the University of South Florida (exclusive of the College of Medicine which maintains its own procedures) an opportunity for objective review of facts and events pertinent to the cause of the academic grievance. Such review will be accomplished in a collegial, non-judicial atmosphere rather than an adversarial one, and shall allow the parties involved to participate. All parties will be expected to act in a professional and civil manner.
The procedures that follow are designed to ensure objective and fair treatment of both students and instructors.
In the case of grade appeals, the University reserves the right to change a student’s grade if it is determined at the conclusion of the grievance process that the grade given was “capricious and arbitrary.” In such circumstances the Dean or Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs or the Vice President for Health Sciences Center may file an administrative grade change. “Capricious and arbitrary” means the assigned grade 1) was based on something other than performance in the course; 2) was based on more exacting or demanding standards than were applied to other students in that course; 3) was the result of substantial departure from the instructor’s previously announced standards; or 4) was based upon an illegal or unconstitutional act.
In the case of all other academic grievances the University reserves the right to determine the final outcome based on the procedures detailed herein.
- Definitions - The term “academic grievance” shall be considered to mean any student complaint regarding instruction, grading or academic advising activity that adversely affects the student’s record, academic performance or participation in courses or academic programs.
The term “instructor” shall be considered to mean any classroom instructor, thesis/dissertation/directed study supervisor, committee member or chair, or counselor/advisor that interacts with the student in an academic environment.
- Resolution at the Department Level - [Note: All time limits in these procedures reflect “academic time,” that is, exclusive of breaks and holidays, and may be extended if agreed to in writing by all parties.]
- The student shall first make a reasonable effort to resolve his or her grievance with the instructor concerned within four (4) weeks of the incident precipitating the grievance, unless the instructor is unavailable in which case the department Chairperson/Director or the Dean/CEO may extend the deadline (must be in writing to the student).
- If the situation cannot be satisfactorily resolved, the student shall file or the instructor may file, in writing, a concise statement of particulars with the department Chairperson/Director within two (2) weeks of failure to resolve the incident with the instructor. A copy of this shall also be submitted to the instructor and to the Dean (or designee) of the parent college. (NOTE: If attempted resolution with the instructor fails, resolution may be initiated at the College level in those units without departments.)
- The department Chairperson/Director shall discuss the statement with the student and the instructor to see if the grievance can be resolved satisfactorily to all concerned. If the grievance can be resolved, the Chairperson/Director shall provide a statement to that effect to the student and the instructor with a copy to the Dean (or designee).
- If a grievance occurs resulting from an event on a campus other than Tampa, the student should follow the approved policy of that campus. In the absence of an approved policy on that campus, the student should follow the procedures described as follows substituting the Campus CEO for the college dean or the student may bypass resolution at the department level and initiate the grievance at the level of the Campus CEO. Once the student makes this choice the other option is precluded. It shall be the responsibility of the department Chairperson to keep the Campus CEO (or designee) informed of any grievances initiated at the department level when the event provoking the grievance occurred on the regional campus. Likewise, it shall be the responsibility of the Campus CEO (or designee) to keep the department informed if the student initiates a grievance bypassing the Tampa Campus department.
- Resolution at the College Level - If the situation cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of those directly concerned, or in the absence of a grade change, in those cases involving grade grievances, these procedures will be followed:
- The department Chairperson/Director shall file a letter with the Dean (or designee) indicating that the problem cannot be resolved at the departmental level. Copies shall be provided to the student and to the instructor. This letter shall be filed no later than two (2) weeks after receipt of the student’s notification to the department.
- The student shall file a letter with the Dean (or designee) within two (2) weeks of receipt of the Chairperson’s/Director’s notification to the student. This letter must include information pertaining to how, in the student’s opinion, University policies or procedures were violated and/or how an injustice occurred.
- The Dean (or designee) will send the student’s letter to the instructor, with a copy to the Chairperson/Director within one (1) week of its receipt requesting a written response from the instructor.
- The instructor will provide a written response to the Dean (or designee) within one (1) week of receipt of the request with a copy to the Chairperson/Director and to the student.
- After the student receives a copy of the instructor’s response the student has one (1) week to request a committee hearing at the college level. If no such request is received in a timely manner, then it is presumed that the matter has been resolved to the student’s satisfaction.
- Within two (2) weeks of receipt of the student’s request for a committee hearing, the Dean (or designee) shall establish an Academic Grievance Committee to consider the student’s grievance and make recommendations to the Dean (or designee) based on these considerations. The committee shall be selected in accordance with the college’s faculty governance document, if such provision is made within that document. The membership of the Committee shall be constituted as follows:
- Three (3) faculty members and two (2) students (undergraduate or graduate as appropriate to the case) shall be selected from the College by the Dean (or designee).
- The Committee shall neither include members of the faculty nor students of the department directly involved with the grievance, nor faculty nor students of the student’s major department. However, this does not prevent faculty or students from the department involved with the grievance or from the student’s major department from providing testimony in the proceedings.
- The Committee will operate in the following manner:
- The Committee Chairperson will be a faculty member appointed by the Dean (or designee).
- The Chairperson shall be responsible for scheduling meetings, overseeing the deliberations of the committee and ensuring that full and fair consideration is provided to all parties. The Chairperson shall not vote except to break a tie during committee deliberations.
- All deliberations shall be in private and held confidential by all members of the Committee and those involved in the review. The paper products of the committee may or may not be protected from public view based on case specific interpretation by the Office of the General Counsel. The recommendation of the Committee shall be based on the factual evidence presented during the hearing.
- The Chairperson of the Academic Grievance Committee shall deliver in writing to the student, instructor and Departmental Chairperson/Director or Program Director and Dean (or designee) a report of the findings and a recommended resolution. This report shall be provided within four (4) weeks of the Committee’s appointment. After review, the Dean (or designee) may consult with the Chairperson of the Grievance Committee for clarification on any aspect of the grievance.
- The decision of the Dean (or designee) shall be provided in writing to the student, the instructor and the Chairperson/Director of the Department/Program with responsibility for instruction, with copies to the members of the Committee, within two (2) weeks of receipt of the Committee’s report.
- The student or the Instructor may appeal the decision of the Dean (or designee) to the Provost only if one or both of the following occur:
- The decision of the Dean (or designee) is contrary to the recommendation of the committee.
- The party appealing establishes prima-facie evidence of a procedural violation.
- The party appealing the decision must file an appeal within two (2) weeks of receipt of the decision of the Dean (or designee).
- Resolution at the University Level - The Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Vice President for the Health Sciences Center has delegated authority to the Dean of the Undergraduate Studies to act in place of the Provost/Vice President in all academic grievance appeals involving undergraduate students and the Dean of Graduate Studies to act in place of the Provost/Vice President in all academic grievance appeals involving graduate students.
An appeal filed by either a student or an instructor shall specify in detail the basis for the appeal and shall attach copies of all previous considerations and actions. The appeals file will be submitted to the Undergraduate/Graduate Dean (or designee) as appropriate with copies provided (without attachments) to the other party involved, the department Chairperson/Director, and the College Dean (or designee).
Upon a receipt of an appeal from a student or instructor, the Undergraduate/ Graduate Dean (or designee) shall first review the file and determine if the appeal meets the standard(s) specified for appeals at the University level. The Dean (or designee) shall make this decision within one (1) week of receipt of an appeal. If the Dean (or designee) finds that the appeal does not meet the standard(s) specified for appeals, the process ceases and the previous finding of the College Dean (or designee) shall prevail. If the Dean (or designee) finds that the standard(s) is met, the appeal process continues. The Dean’s (or designee’s) finding in this regard is final. The Dean (or designee) shall then notify all parties of the decision to proceed or not proceed with the appeal.
Once the appeal has been certified to proceed, the following process will take place:
- Within one (1) week of notifying all parties that the appeal is to proceed, the Dean (or designee), in consultation with the Faculty Senate and the Student Senate, shall establish an Appeals Committee consisting of three faculty members drawn from the University Undergraduate Council or Graduate Council, as appropriate and two students, undergraduate or graduate, as appropriate.
- The functions, and operating procedures of the Appeals Committee will be the same as those of the College Committee (i.e., chaired by a non-voting faculty member, no representation from either party’s respective departments, development of a recommendation to the Dean (or designee), etc.
- Within four (4) weeks of the establishment of the Appeals Committee the Chairperson of the Committee shall deliver in writing to the Dean (or designee) a report of the findings of the Committee and a recommended resolution. After review, the Dean (or designee) may consult with the Chairperson for clarification on any aspect of the grievance.
- The Dean’s (or designee’s) final decision shall be provided in writing to both parties plus the College Dean (or designee) and the Department Chairperson/Director within two (2) weeks of receipt of the Committee’s report, with copies to the Committee members.
- In the case of a grade appeal, if the Dean’s (or designee’s) decision is that a grade change is merited, the Dean (or designee) shall initiate the grade change on the authority of the Provost and so inform all parties.
- In all academic grievance appeals, the Undergraduate/Graduate Dean’s (or designee’s) decision is final and not subject to further appeal within the University.
These procedures shall take effect commencing Fall Semester, 2003 and shall supercede all other academic grievance procedures currently in effect, with the exception of the procedures of the College of Medicine.