Graduate students who believe they have been subjected to unfair treatment in the administration of academic policies may, except as noted below, seek resolution of the student complaint under this Academic Grievance Procedure. Policy 3.8 applies to the application of departmental, college, or Graduate School policies, as well as deviations from stated grading practices (but not individual grade challenges).
- Students contesting individual grades or academic evaluations should refer to the Change of Grade Procedure contained in the University Handbook, Vol. Four, Part III, Chapter 11, Section 2.
- Students who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam-era veteran should refer to the Resolution of Complaints Against University Employees Procedure contained in University of Washington Administrative Policy Statement 46.3.
- Student disciplinary proceedings for misconduct, including plagiarism and cheating, fall under the provisions of the Student Conduct Code contained in the University Handbook, Vol. Three, Part III, Chapter 1 and Chapter 478-120 WAC.
Students seeking resolution of the student complaint under this policy must initiate either an informal conciliation or file a formal complaint within three months of the complained of incident. Former students may also utilize this procedure, subject to this same time limit.
Specified time limitations within Academic Grievance Procedure policy refer to the academic year, September through June. If a student presents a grievance in June or the complained of incident allegedly occurred during the summer months, the time calculation may be suspended between the end of the academic year and the opening of the following academic year in September. Such suspension may be required if it is impossible to constitute a committee. In addition, time limitations do not include official University holidays or other closures during the regular academic year. The term “days” refers to days when the University is open for business.
3.8.2 Informal Conciliation
The student is encouraged to attempt to resolve a grievance initially with the faculty or staff member(s) most directly concerned. If the student attempts informal conciliation, the student must initiate this process within three months of the complained of incident by requesting one of the following persons to conciliate the grievance: director/ chair of the unit or the appropriate college dean.
If discussion with the faculty or staff member(s) concerned, facilitated by the director/chair of the unit or the appropriate college dean, does not resolve the grievance, the student may request The Graduate School to assist in an informal resolution. In such a case, the dean of The Graduate School shall designate an associate dean as the informal conciliator for The Graduate School. The associate dean may either facilitate conciliation directly or involve the Office of the Ombudsman. If the associate dean attempts informal conciliation directly, the associate dean may not be involved in a subsequent formal complaint.
If the informal conciliation process has not adequately addressed unfair treatment in the administration of academic policies, the student may submit a formal complaint with the dean of The Graduate School as described below.
3.8.3 Formal Complaint
Within three months of the complained of incident or, if informal conciliation was attempted, within 10 days of the conclusion of the attempted informal process, a student may file a formal complaint with the dean of The Graduate School. The complaint must be initiated by a written statement that indicates the action(s) being appealed and the date(s) the action(s) occurred; the academic policies upon which the appeal is based, and the relief requested. The statement should also include a description of the results of any unit level process or informal conciliation, as well as any background information that the student deems pertinent to the complaint.
Graduate School Associate Deans will review the complaint and recommend to the Dean whether the formal complaint process is warranted. If a formal grievance process is initiated, any Associate Dean involved in this preliminary review and recommendation will not be part of the formal grievance. Evaluation criteria will be whether the complaint centers on unfair treatment in the application of academic policies. This includes departmental, college, or Graduate School policies, as well as deviations from stated grading practices (but not individual grade challenges). The question of whether the grievance has been addressed at the unit level will also be considered and, if appropriate, the grievance may be referred back to the department or college for further review. The Dean will notify the student whether the formal complaint will proceed within 10 days of submission of the formal complaint by the student.
If the decision is made by the Dean of the Graduate School to move forward with the formal complaint, the following processes will be followed.
220.127.116.11 Chair of the Academic Grievance Committee
The dean of The Graduate School shall designate an associate dean of The Graduate School as Chair of the Graduate School Academic Grievance Committee (‘Committee’). If the associate dean attempted to facilitate informal conciliation directly in a particular case, then the dean of The Graduate School shall appoint another associate dean or a graduate faculty member as Chair of the Committee in that case.
18.104.22.168 Graduate School Academic Grievance Committee Pool
Prior to the first day of the autumn quarter, the dean of The Graduate School shall create a pool of at least 20 members of the graduate faculty. At the time the formal complaint is filed, all registered graduate students shall constitute a pool from which at least 20 full-time graduate students who are in good academic standing shall be randomly selected by computer. From these pools, the Committee chair shall appoint a Committee to provide a fair and impartial hearing on the formal complaint filed with the dean of The Graduate School.
22.214.171.124 The Graduate School Academic Grievance
A formal grievance is referred to the chair of the Committee who shall, in a timely manner, designate two faculty and two student members from the pool to serve as Committee members for a hearing. The Committee chair or chair’s designee shall act as chair. The student and the faculty or staff concerned shall each have the right to exercise one preemptory challenge against the Committee members, other than the Committee chair, within five days after notification of the names of the members. If a challenge is made, the Committee chair shall designate another faculty or student member to replace the member challenged. All members of the Committee shall be present for the hearing and shall have the right to vote upon any matter that may come before the Committee. No member of the Committee shall be from the department of any of the parties to the grievance. There shall be no ex parte communications between any of the parties and any member of the Committee.
126.96.36.199 Hearing Preparation
The Committee chair shall distribute a copy of the formal complaint to the faculty and staff concerned, the dean of the college or school, the chair/director of the department/program and the graduate program coordinator of the department/program, and members of the Committee. The Committee chair shall establish a time and place for a hearing to be held no later than 20 days from the date of final determination of the Committee membership, unless for good reason stated in writing to the complainant and other concerned parties the Committee chair schedules the hearing for a later specified date. The Committee chair shall announce the time and place of the hearing to the student, the faculty and staff concerned the dean of the college or school, the chair/director of the department/program, the graduate program coordinator of the department/program and include a list of persons so notified, who shall comprise the ‘mailing list.’
At least seven days before the Hearing, the parties must submit to the Committee chair any documentary or any other physical evidence to be presented at the Hearing and a list of witnesses to be called. Additional evidence from witnesses will not be accepted after this time or at the hearing.
Hearings are conducted, with the Committee chair presiding, in closed session except when and to the extent mutually agreed upon by the student and faculty or staff concerned. All parties may present evidence and testimony. Only evidence timely submitted to the Committee chair is considered in determining the validity of the complaint. Hearings are conducted with reasonable dispatch and terminated as soon as fairness to all parties involved permits.
While the student may be accompanied by an associate or companion, the presence of an attorney is neither necessary nor recommended. The Graduate School Academic Grievance Committee described herein operates as part of an academic hearing, not a judicial proceeding. However, if the student elects to have counsel present, the University’s attorney must also be afforded an opportunity to attend. Accordingly, the student must notify The Graduate School, in writing, at least seven days prior to the Hearing if the student intends to have an attorney present. The attorney(ies) presence at the Hearing does not change the proceeding. Examination of witnesses, questioning of parties or direct participation in the proceeding by the attorney(ies) is not permitted. An attorney may speak in an unobtrusive manner with the attorney’s client in an advisory capacity.
Within 15 days after the Hearing adjourns, the Committee shall present to the dean of The Graduate School its report, including findings, conclusions, and recommendations for action. The report is simultaneously transmitted to the student and to the faculty and staff member(s) concerned. A written summary of the proceedings and an audio recording of testimony are retained for at least one year.
The dean of The Graduate School, within 10 days after receipt of the Committee report, shall issue the dean’s decision as to the action to be taken on the grievance. The decision shall include an evaluation of the validity of the grievance and a statement of the action to be taken. Copies of the decision shall be transmitted to the student, the faculty and staff member(s) involved, the dean of the college or school, the chair/director of the department/program, and the graduate program coordinator of the department/program.
The decision of the dean of The Graduate School shall become final at the close of the seventh day after issuance, unless the student or any other party directly involved files a written request for consideration of the findings by the Provost, whose review will be limited to the hearing record.
188.8.131.52 Disability Accommodations
The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education, and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the grievance process students should contact the Office of Academic Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org at the same time as the formal grievance is filed. Faculty and staff participating in the hearing may also request disability accommodation upon receipt of the grievance.
Policy 3.8 revised November 2000; May 2007; February 2023
Policy 184.108.40.206 revised August 2023