Montana State University
Office of the Provost > Collective Bargaining Agreement > Non Tenure Track Faculty

Article 16 : Student Academic Grievances

SECTION CONTENTS

16.01 Academic Decisions Reviewed
16.02 Procedures
   16.02.01 Informal Meeting
   16.02.02 Department Head Review
   16.02.03 Dean Or Graduate School Review
   16.02.04 Provost’s Review
16.03 Resorting To Other Procedures

Students who disagree with an academic decision made by an instructor or administrator, including the assignment of grades or decisions about program or degree requirements or eligibility, may file a grievance under these procedures.

This procedure is intended to be used when specific actions of a faculty member have a specific adverse effect on the academic performance or academic record of a student. Student complaints about employment relations or other campus activities or policies extending beyond the immediate teaching/learning context are subject to other University policies. Student complaints alleging unlawful discrimination not intrinsically related to the academic process should be filed with the University EEO/AA Officer. Complaints regarding the general quality of a faculty member's teaching are to be addressed through the faculty evaluation process.

16.01 ACADEMIC DECISIONS REVIEWED

These procedures are available only to review allegedly unfair academic decisions and not mere differences of opinion regarding the professional judgment of the instructor in evaluating a student's work or making an academic decision. The academic decision, including the assignment of a grade, will be considered unfair if the decision is made:

  1. on some basis other than performance in the course and/or compliance with course assignments and requirements;
  2. by more exacting or demanding standards than were applied to other students in the same section;
  3. by a substantial departure from the instructor's, department's, college's or University's announced standards as articulated in the course syllabus, catalog descriptions and/or other written materials.

16.02 PROCEDURES

A student who wishes to grieve an academic decision must proceed as follows:

16.02.01 INFORMAL MEETING

The student should attempt to resolve the matter directly with the instructor or administrator through a personal conference as soon as possible after the academic decision is known. If the matter cannot be resolved, the student and instructor should both sign a statement to that effect. If the nature of the issue prevents the student from discussing it with the instructor, the student may initiate an informal meeting with the Department Head. The Department Head will then be responsible for communicating with the instructor.

16.02.02 DEPARTMENT HEAD REVIEW

If the student and instructor cannot reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to the problem, the student may file a formal grievance. The grievance must be presented in writing to the instructor's department head before the end of the term if possible but in no event later than the fifteenth (15) day of University instruction of the following term. The student must describe the grievance, the date(s) of occurrence, why the student believes the decision was unfair, and the precise relief sought by the student. The student must attach copies of all relevant documents.

The student shall send a copy of the grievance to the instructor. The instructor shall have ten (10) working days to respond to the student and department head after receipt of the grievance.

Once a student files a grievance, he or she will be assigned an incomplete grade ("I") until the matter is concluded.

The department head will receive and review all evidence, interview each party, if possible, and render a written decision with recommendations as to resolution within ten (10) working days of receipt of the instructor's response. If the grievance is not concluded within this time, the student may carry it forward to the Dean or Vice Provost for Graduate Education if the student is a graduate student for resolution.

16.02.03 DEAN OR GRADUATE SCHOOL REVIEW

  1. For Undergraduate Students
    Either party may appeal the department head's decision in writing to the instructor's College Dean, with copies to the instructor, student and the department head. Such appeal will be filed within five (5) working days of receipt of the department head's 's determination. The Dean will submit a written decision to the student, instructor, and the department head within ten (10) working days of receipt of the appeal. The decision of the Dean is the final decision of the University in grievances concerning grades for undergraduate students.
  2. For Graduate Students
    Either party may appeal the department head's decision in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School, with copies to the instructor, student and the Department Head/Director. Such appeal will be filed within five (5) working days of receipt of the Department Head/Director's determination. The Dean of the Graduate School will discuss the appeal with the Dean of the student's academic college and will subsequently submit a written decision to the student, instructor, and the department head within ten (10) working days of receipt of the appeal. The decision of the Dean of the Graduate School is the final decision of the University in grievances concerning grades for graduate students.

16.02.04 PROVOST'S REVIEW

  1. For Undergraduate Students
    Either party may appeal the Dean's decision, except decisions concerning grade grievances. Such appeal will be filed in writing and submitted to the Provost (or designee) within five (5) working days of receipt of the Dean's decision, with copies to the instructor, student and the Dean. The Provost will submit a written decision to the student, instructor, and the Dean within ten (10) working days of receipt of the appeal. The decision of the Provost is the final decision of the University.
  2. For Graduate Students
    Either party may appeal the decision of the Dean of the Graduate School, except decisions concerning grade grievances. Any appeal will be filed in writing and submitted to the (or designee) within five (5) working days of receipt of the decision of the Dean of the Graduate School, with copies to the instructor, student and the Dean of the Graduate School. The Provost will submit a written decision to the student, instructor, and the Dean of the Graduate School within ten (10) working days of receipt of the appeal. The decision of the Provost is the final decision of the University.

16.03 RESORTING TO OTHER PROCEDURES

If the student complainant(s) seeks resolution of a complaint in any non-University forum, whether administrative or judicial, the parties to a complaint under this section shall have no obligation to proceed further under the provisions of this section. It is understood, however, that the procedure under this section is the only appropriate University procedure for a student to dispute a decision solely involving academic assessment by a faculty member based upon the criteria listed above. A student may not file complaints concerning the same issue(s) in more than one University forum.

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