This procedure is designed to provide fair means for dealing with a student’s complaints regarding a specific action or decision made by the law school administration, the faculty, or a faculty member. Any students who believe they have been treated unfairly, discriminated against, or have had their rights abridged may initiate a grievance. (Redbook, Article 6.8)
A grievance filed under this Part is in addition to, and not in lieu of, a complaint involving an ABA standard filed under Part U.
There shall be a School of Law Student Academic Grievance Committee, hereinafter referred to as the Committee, which shall have the power to hear all grievances involving academic matters other than (a) substantive grade appeals and (b) matters falling within the jurisdiction of the Reinstatement and Probation Committee. Academic matters are defined as those concerning instructional activities, research activities, activities closely related to either of these functions, or decisions involving instructions or affecting academic freedom. (Redbook, Article 6.8.3). The Committee may review allegations that a grade has resulted from an unfair procedure, but it shall not render a judgment contrary to that of the faculty member on the substantive merits of the grade. Where the dean agrees with a Committee determination that procedural irregularities have occurred, the dean shall consult with the faculty member involved and the Reinstatement and Probation Committee as to the grade to be recorded in the student’s official transcript.
To assist the student, a Student Grievance Officer shall be provided who is responsible for informing students of their rights and obligations under the grievance procedure and especially the deadlines that have been established. The Student Grievance Officer shall seek to resolve informally as many grievances as possible. (Redbook, Article 6.8.2). Students are encouraged to seek the assistance of the Student Grievance Officer at any stage of the grievance process. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs is the contact person in the law school.
School of Law Student Grievance Committee
The Committee shall be composed of five (5) members selected as follows: One (1) student selected by the Student Bar Association and four (4) faculty members appointed by the dean. The dean shall select the chair of the Committee. In a situation where the student member is involved in the grievance or removed because of challenge, the Student Bar Association shall appoint an alternate student member for that grievance. When a faculty member of the Committee is involved in the grievance or removed because of challenge, the dean shall appoint an alternate faculty member to serve on the Committee for that grievance.
In pursuing a grievance concerning academic matters within the law school, a student shall follow this procedure:
1. The student shall first discuss the grievance with the person or persons grieved against (hereinafter referred to as the respondent), and shall attempt to resolve it through informal discussion. This discussion should take place not later than thirty (30) days after the date on which the student first learned, or may reasonably have been expected to have learned, of the cause of the grievance.
2. If there is no resolution, and if the grievance is not against the law school administration, the student shall discuss the grievance with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who shall attempt to mediate a resolution.
3. If the student still has not been able to obtain a resolution, the student may request the Student Grievance Officer to attempt informal mediation of the grievance.
4. If the grievance has not been satisfactorily resolved through the informal process, the student may submit a written statement of the grievance to the Committee through the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. This statement shall not be submitted later than one year after the date on which the student first learned, or may reasonably have been expected to have learned, of the cause of the grievance. The statement shall contain: (a) a brief narrative of the condition giving rise to the grievance; (b) a designation of the respondent; and (c) a statement of the remedy requested.
Upon receipt of a written statement of a grievance, the chair of the Committee shall:
1. Consult with the student, the respondent, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and the Student Grievance Officer to obtain assurance that all steps of the informal process were completed and that the issues in the statement were discussed at all levels.
2. Send a copy of the statement to the respondent and to all Committee members.
3. Notify the grievant and the respondent of their right to make one (1) peremptory challenge to a Committee member and to challenge Committee members for cause. The Committee’s notice shall include: (a) the names of the Committee members; and (b) a request that any challenges be made promptly to expedite the grievance procedure.
4. Call a meeting of the Committee to be held within twenty (20) days after receipt of the written statement to review and consider it and to decide whether the grievance states grounds sufficient to warrant a hearing.
5. Notify the grievant and the respondent of the Committee’s decision and its reasons therefore in writing.
6. If a hearing is to be held, notify in writing all parties, and any witnesses, of the date, time, and place of the hearing. The notice shall be sent at least ten (10) days prior to the hearing date.
7. In its notice of hearing, request in writing from the grievant and the respondent any pertinent material that the Committee shall require for its review prior to the hearing. The respondent may submit to the Committee a written statement outlining issues from the respondent’s perspective. The statement and materials either party chooses to submit shall be submitted to the Committee not later than four (4) days prior to the hearing. Committee members shall make every effort to maintain confidentiality throughout the entire grievance process.
Hearing and Reporting Process
All Committee hearings and reports thereon shall be conducted confidentially in the following manner:
1. The grievant and the respondent must be present during the information-gathering portion of the hearing. Witnesses will be available and called when needed. The Committee may allow the presence of a secretary or technical assistant.
2. All statements made during the information exchange phase of the hearing shall be tape-recorded (or video-taped). This record shall be preserved in the University Archives for a minimum of five (5) years and shall be confidential.
3. Any Committee member may question any of the participants at the hearing.
4. The grievant shall be afforded the opportunity to present statements and to have witnesses testify before the Committee.
5. The respondent shall have the opportunity to question the grievant and the grievant’s witnesses about their statements.
6. The respondent shall be afforded the opportunity to present statements and to have witnesses testify before the Committee.
7. The grievant shall have the opportunity to question the respondent and the respondent’s witnesses about their statements.
8. After all information is exchanged, all persons, other than Committee members and the recording secretary, shall leave the committee room. The grievant, respondent, and witnesses shall continue to be available to the Committee should further information be needed.
9. The Committee shall meet in closed session to decide upon its recommendations to the Dean. If the grievance directly involves the Dean, the report and recommendations of the Committee shall be referred for decision to the Provost.
10. The Committee shall submit its report with recommendations and reasons therefore to the grievant, the respondent, and the Dean (or Provost).
11. The student’s grievance shall be included in the student’s record.
12. Until the grievance is resolved, the student may continue the student’s natural academic progression through the academic unit, subject to the requirements of Redbook, Article 6.6 (Academic Review, Advancement, Probation, and Dismissal of Students) and Article 6.7 (Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures).
13. The burden of proof shall be on the grievant. The grievant shall establish his right to relief by clear and convincing evidence.
The Dean (or Provost) shall approve or reject the Committee’s recommendations within twenty-eight (28) days after they are received. If the decision of the Dean (or Provost) is in accord with the Committee’s recommendations, the recommendations shall be implemented. If the decision is not in accord with the Committee’s recommendations, the Dean (or Provost) shall state the reasons for that decision, in writing, to all persons directly involved in the grievance and to the Committee. That decision shall be implemented after the time for appeal has elapsed.
Rehearing Before the Committee
Within 21 days after delivery of its report, the grievant or the respondent may petition the Committee to reconsider its report. The petition must be based upon evidence of misrepresentation of material facts or upon newly discovered evidence clearly not available at the original hearing.
Appeal to the University Student Grievance Committee
Any party to the grievance may appeal to the University Student Grievance Committee within 21 days from the date of the final decision of the Dean (or Provost) if the decision does not accord with the recommendations of the Committee. The appeal shall be in accordance with Articles 6.8.11, 6.8.12, and 6.8.14 of Redbook.