If possible, the student should first discuss the matter with the individual(s) directly involved. If no resolution results, the student should consult his or her advisor, director of graduate studies, chair, the Ombuds officer, or an appropriate dean or administrator in GSAS. The GSAS Office of Student Affairs may help with informal resolutions and offer suggestions about resolving the matter within the student's department or program, if applicable. Every effort should be made to resolve the matter at an informal level before escalating the complaint to the status of a formal grievance. Discussions aimed at informal resolution must remain confidential and generally last for no more than thirty working days.
Any student who has not reached an informal resolution and prefers to avoid escalating the complaint to the status of a formal grievance may request a mediation session at the Graduate School. Mediation is an informal and confidential process through which the grievant and the accused student can participate in a search for a fair and workable solution. Mediation requires the consent of both parties and suspends the grievance procedure for up to thirty working days, which can be extended at the discretion of the Graduate School upon the consent of both parties. Complaints that are addressed through mediation need not be made in writing. The parties may agree to a variety of solutions ranging, for instance, from the modification of a TA or RA assignment to an apology. A written document, which will remain confidential to both parties, may be produced to memorialize the agreement.
Filing a Formal Grievance
If no informal resolution occurs and the student wishes to make a formal grievance, the student should, within two weeks of the abandonment of attempts at informal resolution, inform in writing the GSAS Office of Student Affairs that he or she has rejected any offer made during the informal process of resolution (if such was made) and that he or she intends to file a formal grievance. Within two weeks following such notice, the student should submit a written statement to the dean documenting and describing the source of the complaint, its consequences, and the informal efforts at resolution made to date. This statement must also include a description of the remedy sought.
Review of the Grievance Statement
The dean will review the written statement and consult with the Office of Student Affairs to suggest the appropriate action: either (a) to refer the grievance to the Grievance Committee (see below) or (b) with the agreement of the grievant, to refer the complaint to the appropriate department or office if the issue seems not to be one that falls within the purview of the Dean's Office of the Graduate School.
Formation and Proceeding of the Grievance Committee
If the complaint is forwarded to the Grievance Committee, the Office of Student Affairs convenes the committee to review the written statement. The proceeding may involve one or more meetings, depending on how long it takes to collect, present, and evaluate the evidence needed to review the grievance.
A GSAS associate dean will chair the Grievance Committee, which will consist of a second GSAS Student Affairs staff member and, depending on the nature of the case, a faculty member included for expertise and present through the hearing until the point of deliberation.
The grievant attends the proceeding and, if he or she wishes, may select a faculty member, graduate student, or Graduate School administrator to attend the meeting and serve as his or her advocate. The advocate may not pose questions or intervene in the proceedings, but may talk quietly or pass notes to the grievant in a non-disruptive manner. The advocate is not privy to deliberations and does not vote. If the grievant chooses not to attend, he or she will be informed that the committee will proceed to a decision.
The merits of the grievance are evaluated within the context of the university and Graduate School policy, a consensus is reached by a majority vote and, when appropriate, a remedy is recommended. The committee responds with a written decision in a timely fashion, that is, no later than the end of the semester following that in which the grievance was filed.
If the grievant is not satisfied with this decision, he or she may appeal in writing to the dean. This appeal must be submitted within thirty working days of the decision to the dean who will decide the matter, ordinarily within thirty days.
If the student is unsatisfied with the school resolution in a matter related to faculty misconduct, he or she may consult the grounds and procedures for appeal to the grievance committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.