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Academic Grievance Procedure for Graduate Students

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan



An academic grievance is defined as a dispute arising from some aspect of a decision or behavior, which a student claims is unjust or violates his or her rights. Although it is impossible to enumerate all the potential scenarios, we outline the following basic tenants:

A graduate student has the right

1. to competent instruction

2. to be fairly evaluated

3. to be treated with respect and dignity

4. to have expectations communicated orally and/or in writing

If a student believes a faculty member to have violated one or more of these tenants, the following academic grievance process should be followed as outlined below. Although, it is most common that these grievances arise between a student and his or her research advisor, the policy is not limited to such.


Academic grievance process

The following steps outline the process by which a student should proceed, if unable to reconcile a problem directly with the accused faculty member.

Step 1

Discuss the grievance formally with the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, either in person or by email. The Graduate Chair will be responsible for giving advice on how to reconcile the problem. This may be limited to simply advising the student on steps that could be taken, or may involve the Grad Chair discussing the matter with the accused faculty member. The Grad Chair may also serve to mediate discussion between the student and the faculty member.

Step 2

If a student is unable to resolve the problem with the Graduate Chair, a grievance may be escalated to a Department oversight committee comprised of the Department Chair, Graduate Chair, and Department Student Advocate. Such a grievance should be formatted in writing, and submitted to either the Graduate Chair, or Graduate Coordinator.

The oversight committee will review the grievance and will notify the student in writing of recommended actions.

Step 3

If a student feels that the grievance has been unsatisfactorily dealt with at the Department level, he or she should reach out to the Rackham ombudsman Darlene Ray-Johnson for further advice ( The Rackham policy for grievances is found here: