The procedures below pertain to alleged violations or misapplications of SUNY Old Westbury and/or course academic policies and do not apply to other areas with separate forms of redress, such as issues of sexual harassment, discrimination or discipline, which are addressed elsewhere on the SUNY Old Westbury website. They are also directed at a student grievance alleging that he or she has been treated unfairly, in violation of established academic policy or practice. The procedures below reflect our University’s commitment to a fair and prompt resolution of student academic grievances. Students should be aware that a review of grade procedure may result in a grade being raised, lowered, or not changed.
This procedure begins with an informal process, but includes a formal process that recommends a resolution of the grievance in a way that maximizes the opportunity for a full and impartial solution. Request to waive or otherwise alter academic policies shall continue to be the province of the Academic Practices Committee.
An academic grievance shall include, but not be restricted to, a complaint by a student:
a. That the University’s academic regulations and/or policies have been violated or misapplied to him or her;
b. That he or she has been treated unfairly, based upon established University academic policies.
The review of grievances or appeals shall usually be limited to the following considerations:
a. Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision? Were improper or extraneous facts or criteria brought to bear that substantially affected the decision to the detriment of the grievant?
b. Were there any procedural irregularities that substantially affected the outcome of the matter to the detriment of the grievant?
c. Given the proper facts, criteria and procedures, was the decision one which a person in the position of the decision maker might reasonably have made?
At the informal level: An academic grievance may be initiated no later than the end of the third week into the following semester. (A student receiving a grade as a result of satisfying the course requirements of a previously received “Incomplete”grade in the semester immediately following the semester in which the “Incomplete” was received has three weeks from notification of the grade change to initiate an academic grievance.)
At the formal level: An academic grievance may be initiated no later than the end of the fifth week into the following semester. (A student receiving a grade as a result of satisfying the course requirements of a previously received “Incomplete” grade in the semester immediately following the semester in which the “Incomplete” was received has five weeks from notification of the grade change to initiate an academic grievance.) A formal grievance involves submission of written documentation as discussed below.
3. Grievance Resolution Process
The process includes the possibility of review at two levels: the department and the School/University. Individual departments or schools may have more detailed procedures at those levels; inquiries about such policies should be directed to the appropriate chair or dean.
a. At the department level, a student with a complaint should first attempt to resolve the complaint informally with the faculty or staff member involved. A student must initiate the process no later than the end of the third week into the following semester. The assistance of the chair of the department may be sought to resolve the dispute.
b. The student who is not able to achieve resolution with the instructor may initiate a formal grievance no later than the end of the fifth week into the following semester by preparing a written statement which includes:
- A account of the case in detail;
- All information about the conference with the instructor;
- A statement of the reasons the student believes he or she is aggrieved or, in the case of a grade, why it should be reconsidered. The statement should also include an allegation of any adverse effects on the grievant, known to the grievant at the time of filing.
- A description of the remedy sought.
- All relevant supporting materials (including, but not limited to, syllabus(i), test(s), quiz(zes), paper(s), and any graded evaluation(s)), which should be identified and listed in an index. The student shall submit complete copies of the written statement and attachments to the chair of the department. The chair shall carefully review the statement, confer with the student and instructor, and attempt to reach a resolution of the dispute. The department chair may ask members of the department to serve as a committee to review the materials and assist him or her in reaching a decision. The chair’s decision must be made in writing to the student and the instructor within ten academic days of the date of the request from the student. If the department chair is the party against whom the grievance is brought, the student should initiate a review with the Dean of the school.
c. If the department chair’s decision does not resolve the matter to the student’s satisfaction, or dean’s decision, if the department chair is the party against whom the grievance is brought, the student may appeal by writing to the Chair of the Faculty Senate and forwarding the documentation to the appropriate office. This request must be made by the student within twenty academic days of filing the formal grievance to the department chair or dean.
d. The Chair of the Faculty Senate shall forward the documentation to the Chair of the Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee.
e. When the Faculty Rights and Responsibility Committee receives a formal grievance complaint, the committee shall convene a three-person Academic Grievance Committee (AGC) within three weeks.
f. The AGC shall include one faculty member from the department (or a related one) in which the instructor resides. If the Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee does not contain such a member, the Executive Committee/School Dean shall name such a person to the AGC. In naming the AGC to hear a grievance, the Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee shall take care to insure that no member has an interest in the case being heard. It shall meet and review the materials presented and solicit a response from the instructor for each count in the student’s case. The AGC’s decision must be made in writing to the student, the instructor, the Executive Committee and the School Dean within three weeks of the date of the establishment of the AGC.
In the Case of a Grade Appeal
a. The AGC will familiarize itself with the standards and objectives of the course and evaluative material presented. Its concerns shall be limited to consideration of the fair application of standards and objectives, and whether the standards and objectives were made known to the student in a reasonable manner. The difficulty of the standards shall not be an issue.
b. The burden of proof shall be on the student, who may be asked to appear before the AGC.
c. The majority of the AGC feels no case can be made, the original grade will remain. If it finds that the standards and objectives were not reasonably known to the student or were unfairly applied, it may recommend a higher or lower grade and give its reasons for so recommending.
d. If the AGC determines that a different grade is appropriate, the Executive Committee shall have ten academic days from receipt of the AGC’s decision to change the grade.
e. A change of grade shall not be interpreted as an admission of unfairness in grading.
In the Case of a Grievance
In the case of a grievance, if the majority of the AGC adjudges the grievance to be without foundation, the student’s appeal shall be denied.
If, in the judgment of the AGC, there is a basis for the grievance, the written decision must include specific recommendations for redress. The decision of the AGC is final. Under normal circumstances, the issue is to be brought to a conclusion within two months of the establishment of the Committee.
Once the AGC has been convened to hear a complaint, principals and committee members shall have the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings and of all materials presented to review proceedings.
5. Record Keeping
In conformance with state regulations, all parties shall maintain adequate documentation about each formal complaint and its disposition for a period of at least six years after final disposition of the complaint. Copies shall go to the Provost, Dean and department chairs.