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Department of Comparative Literature
Grade Grievance Policy (Approved January 2013, updated November 2017)
The Department of Comparative Literature strives to set fair and consistent grading procedures for its courses. Nevertheless, students may inquire about a grade and subsequently initiate a grade grievance when they think that a grade has been unfairly given. There are two principles which should be clearly understood as part of the context of any grade grievance:
- A grade given by a faculty member may be changed only by that faculty member (Faculty Code B 5.01). A grade given in a class taught by a teaching assistant may be changed only by the faculty supervisor of the course. Departmental grievance procedures are intended to issue a recommendation, for or against a change, to the appropriate faculty member.
- While the Department wishes to see demonstrably unfair grades rectified, it will not automatically invoke the full procedure described below for every grievance. Grievances must be based on substantive grounds; merely disagreeing with the grade does not constitute grounds for a grievance. Grievances based on the argument that one instructor’s grading standards are stricter than those of others will normally not be pursued.
II. Consultation with Instructor
The first step in inquiring about the accuracy of a final grade should be directed to the instructor (and faculty supervisor of the course, if there is one), to make the instructor(s) aware of all the pertinent facts and to identify the issues in dispute. This initial inquiry should take place within the first fifteen University business days of the first full term following the term in which the disputed grade was issued.
III. Formal complaint to Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) or Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)
If the first step does not lead to a resolution, the student must convey in writing the basis for the complaint, with specific evidence in support of the argument that the grade either was given in error or was unfairly determined. The student must be prepared to make available any written work from the course, if requested. The formal complaint also should summarize the outcome of the initial inquiry to the course instructor, indicating what aspects are in dispute. Grievances should be filed by the end of the fifth week of classes in the first full term following the term in which the disputed grade was issued.
Upon receipt of the written complaint, the DUS (for undergraduate grade grievances) or DGS (for graduate grade grievances) will ask the instructor to provide a written summary restating how the final grade was determined and to respond to the specific claims made by the student. In cases where the DUS or DGS is the instructor, the written summary should be submitted to the Department Chair.
After receiving this information from both the student and the instructor, the DUS/DGS will then determine if sufficient evidence exists to convene the Department’s Grade Grievance Committee. If the DUS/DGS determines that there is insufficient evidence for the grade grievance, the matter is considered closed, and the original grade stands.
If the DUS/DGS determines that the grade grievance should proceed, a date for a formal hearing with the Grade Grievance Committee will be set.
IV. Grade Grievance Hearing
Once it has been determined that a formal hearing will be held, the DUS/DGS will empanel the appropriate Departmental Grade Grievance Committee. The Grade Grievance Committee is comprised of either the DUS and at least two members of the Undergraduate Committee or the DGS and at least two members of the Graduate Committee.
Both the student filing the grade grievance and the respective instructor will be provided with copies of the written student complaint and the instructor’s summary in advance of the formal hearing. During the formal hearing, the student will be asked to first present the basis of his or her complaint; the instructor will then be asked to present his or her explanation for how grades were determined. Following an open period of questions to all parties, i.e., the student, the instructor and the Grade Grievance committee members, the formal hearing will be adjourned.
V. Grade Grievance Committee’s Recommendation
The Grade Grievance Committee will then have ten University business days to determine its recommendation and submit a written report to the DUS/DGS.
If the Grade Grievance Committee decides that a grade change is not warranted, the DUS/DGS will convey this in writing to the student and the instructor. The original grade will stand and the matter is considered closed.
If the committee recommends a grade change, the DUS will communicate that decision directly to the instructor. The instructor will then be asked to respond in writing within five University business days to the DUS/DGS indicating whether or not he/she will abide by the Grade Grievance Committee’s recommendation. If the instructor agrees to a grade change, the DUS/DGS will in writing inform the student of the instructor’s decision and the student’s final course grade will be changed. The matter is considered closed.
If an instructor does not accept the Grade Grievance Committee’s recommendation to change the final grade, the original grade will stand. By College policy, a final course grade rests solely with the instructor and, as such, a course grade cannot be changed without the instructor’s consent. When this occurs, the DUS/DGS will convey in writing this decision to the student. The matter is considered closed. There is no appeal beyond the Department.
If a grade change is permitted, a Supplemental Grade Report must be submitted by the professor so the student can have the grade reported on his/her academic record.