Oct 04, 2022  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog

Student Complaint Process



Grade Appeal

A student may appeal the final grade for a course. A student’s appeal of an academic grade shall be resolved solely and exclusively in accordance with the following procedures.

Students may not use the academic grade appeal procedure to challenge academic policies. See the guidelines for Request for Review of Academic Policy.

Steps in the Grade Appeal Process

  1. Appeal to the Faculty Member. The student shall, in good faith, attempt to settle the grade in dispute by meeting with the faculty member who issued the grade. This meeting shall be accomplished within 10 business days from the date on which the final grade was available online or from the university Registrar.
  2. Appeal to the Academic Division Director. If the student is not satisfied with the result of his or her meeting with the faculty member, he or she can appeal the decision to the Academic Division Director. The Division Director will direct the appeal to the faculty member’s supervisor for followup. In areas without a Division Director, the student can appeal to the Program Director. The student shall submit a letter not to exceed two typed pages to the Academic Division Director/Program Director within 10 business days of receiving the faculty member’s decision on the grade appeal. The letter must include an explanation of the disputed elements in the student’s final grade, and a clear statement of what outcome the student seeks from his or her grade appeal to the Division Director/Program Director. The student may also attach supporting documents to this letter. The Academic Division Director/Program Director will meet with the student within 10 business days after the receipt of the letter. The Academic Division Director/Program Director will respond, in writing, to the student and the faculty member within five business days after the meeting.
  3. Appeal to the Dean of the College. If no resolution is reached at the level of the Academic Division Director, then the student has the option of appealing to the Dean of the College. To activate this option, the student shall submit a letter to the Dean of the College in which the student earned the grade in dispute. The letter must include an explanation of the disputed elements in the student’s final grade, a clear statement of what outcome the student seeks from his or her grade appeal to the Dean. No new evidence can be submitted at this stage, unless the Division/Program Director was also the instructor. The Division Director will provide all materials to the Dean. The Dean of the College will respond in writing to the student, faculty member and Division Director within 10 business days from the receipt of the student appeal letter.
  4. Appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. If the student is not satisfied with the decision of the Dean of the College, then the student has the option of appealing to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. To activate this option, the student shall submit a written request to the Vice President for Academic Affairs to convene a Grade Appeals Committee. The student shall submit the written request within 10 business days of receiving the decision of the Dean. The Dean will provide all materials from the grade appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The Vice President for Academic Affairs or designee shall convene a Grade Academic Appeals Committee to consider the issues involved in the grade dispute. The Grade Appeals Committee shall meet within 10 business days after the written request has been received by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The membership of the Grade Appeals Committee shall consist of the following:

  • The Vice President for Academic Affairs, Chair.
  • Two faculty members appointed by the chair of the Faculty Senate.
  • Two undergraduate students or two graduate students, whichever is appropriate, appointed by the president of the Student Government Association or Dean of Students.

The student has the right to be accompanied by a support person at the Grade Appeals Committee meeting. Either party shall have the right to bring in witnesses necessary for the processing of the appeal. The student may not submit additional materials to the Grade Appeals Committee. Since this is an internal grievance procedure, legal counsel shall not be involved in the process.

The Grade Appeals Committee shall notify the student, faculty member, Division Director, and Dean of its decision in writing and issue its written recommendation to the President within 10 business days after considering the issue. The President shall either accept or reject the recommendation of the Grade Appeals Committee within 15 business days of the recommendation. The President shall notify the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the student, Division Director, Dean, and the faculty member of her/his decision in writing. The decision of the President shall be final.

General Provisions of the Grade Appeal Process

  1. It is desirable that a solution to an academic grade appeal be reached at the level closest to the course in which the student received the grade. The appeal shall be considered resolved when the solution offered is accepted by the student and further appeal is not requested or until a decision is made by the President.
  2. If the student does not act on the appeal process within the specified time limits, the appeal shall be considered settled based on the last decision rendered. If the student is not notified of a decision within the specified time limit, the appeal is automatically moved to the next step in the appeal process. Time limits may be extended by the mutual, written consent of both parties.
  3. When necessary, teleconferencing or videoconferencing may be utilized.
  4. Students, faculty members and administrators involved in the academic appeal process shall act in an ethical manner and shall not be subject to discipline or reprisal because of such involvement.
  5. To protect all parties concerned, the strictest privacy shall be maintained by all parties involved.

Request for Review of Academic Policy

Academic policies are designed to provide fairness and to maintain academic quality. Academic policies include program admission and progression standards. As a general rule, the university does not grant exceptions to academic policy for individual students. A student or group of students may request that an academic policy be reviewed and considered for modification for future application of the policy, provided changes in the policy will benefit many students. The following procedure must be followed for a request to review an academic policy. The Academic Grade Appeal Policy may not be used for this purpose.

  1. The student(s) should submit a letter to the SGA Academic Policy Committee indicating the policy to be reviewed, requested changes, and how the change in policy will benefit multiple students.
  2. The chairperson of the Academic Policy Committee will convene with the Appeals Committee to review the request within 10 business days of receiving the request. The committee will be composed of all Student Government members, and has the right to request an additional two to three student representatives, who are outside of the Student Government Association, selected by the chairperson.
  3. The committee will review the request and make a recommendation to the SGA to proceed with the request or to indicate in writing to the student who submitted the request that the committee does not support the request. The committee shall explain the rationale for its recommendation. The committee may take 10 business days to do an assessment of the policy and to determine the potential outcomes for changing the policy as requested.
  4. The chairperson of the committee will act on the committee’s recommendation within five business days after receiving the committee report. If the SGA determines that it will pursue a review of the academic policy, the chairperson will meet with appropriate university officials to review the policy. Should the committee decide not to pursue the review, the chairperson will correspond with the student. If the policy is a university-wide policy, the chairperson will meet with the Chief Academic Officer. If the policy is program, division or college-specific, the chairperson will meet with the Program Director or Division Director, whichever is appropriate and the Dean of the College.
  5. The chairperson will communicate in writing to all involved parties concerning the status of the appeal process within 10 business days of meeting with the appropriate university administrator.
  6. The Program Director or Division Director or Dean, whichever is appropriate, will communicate in writing to the student(s) initiating the appeal, giving the reasons for the outcome in a timely manner.

Since this is an internal procedure, legal counsel shall not be involved in the process.

Academic Policy Appeal  

A student may appeal the interpretation or application of an academic policy as it applies to him/her individually. A student’s appeal of a policy shall be resolved solely and exclusively in accordance with the following procedures.  

Students may not use the academic policy appeal procedure to challenge academic policies or to appeal a grade. See the guidelines for Request for Review of Academic Policy or the Grade Appeal Process.  

Steps in the Academic Policy Appeal Process  

  1. Appeal to the Faculty Member. The student shall, in good faith, attempt to settle the policy interpretation or application in dispute with the faculty member who issued it. This shall be accomplished within 10 business days from the date on which the student was notified of the application of said policy to the student.  
  2. Appeal to the Academic Division Director. If the student is not satisfied with the result of the decision of the faculty member, he or she can appeal the decision to the Academic Division Director. The Division Director will direct the appeal to the faculty member’s supervisor for follow-up. In the absence of a Division Director, the student can appeal to the Program Director. To do so the student shall submit a letter not to exceed two typed pages to the Academic Division Director/Program Director within 10 business days of receiving the faculty member’s decision on the policy appeal. The letter must include an explanation of the disputed elements in the interpretation or application of the policy, and a clear statement of what outcome the student seeks, to the Division Director/Program Director. The student may also attach supporting documents to this letter. The Academic Division Director/Program Director will communicate with the student within 10 business days after the receipt of the letter. The Academic Division Director/Program Director will respond, in writing, to the student and the faculty member within five business days after the discussion.  
  3. Appeal to the Dean of the College. If no resolution is reached at the level of the Academic Division Director, then the student has the option of appealing to the Dean of the College. To activate this option, the student shall submit a letter to the Dean of the College in which the course or program to which the policy appeal has been made resides. The letter must include an explanation of the disputed elements in the interpretation or application of the policy, a clear statement of what outcome the student seeks to the Dean, and any relevant new information derived from the student’s appeal to the Academic Division Director. The student may also attach supporting documents to this letter. The Dean of the College will respond in writing to the student, faculty member and Division Director/Program Director within 10 business days from the receipt of the student appeal letter. For all policies specific to programs or divisions within a college, the decision of the Dean is final.  
  4. Appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. For policies applicable across Academic Affairs, if the student is not satisfied with the decision of the Dean of the College, then the student has the option of appealing to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. To activate this option, the student shall submit a written request to the Vice President for Academic Affairs to convene an Academic Policy Appeals Committee. The student shall submit the written request within 10 business days of receiving the decision of the Dean. The student may attach materials previously submitted to the Dean, but no additional materials are to be submitted.  

The Vice President for Academic Affairs shall convene the Academic Policy Appeals Committee to consider the issues involved in the dispute. The Academic Appeals Committee shall meet within 10 business days after the written request has been received by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  

The membership of the Academic Appeals Committee shall consist of the following:  

  • The Vice President for Academic Affairs, Chair,  
  • Two faculty members appointed by the chair of the Faculty Senate,  
  • Two undergraduate students or two graduate students, whichever is appropriate, appointed by the president of the Student Government Association or the Dean of Students.  

The student has the right to be accompanied by a support person to the Academic Policy Appeals Committee meeting. Either party shall have the right to bring in witnesses necessary for the processing of the appeal. The student may not submit additional materials to the Appeals Committee. Since this is an internal grievance procedure, legal counsel shall not be involved in the process.  

The Academic Policy Appeals Committee shall notify the student, faculty member, Division Director/Program Director, and Dean of its decision in writing and issue its written recommendation to the President within 10 business days after considering the issue. The President shall either accept or reject the recommendation of the Academic Policy Appeals Committee within 15 business days of the recommendation. The President shall notify the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the student, Division Director/Program Director, Dean, and the faculty member of her/his decision in writing. The decision of the President shall be final.  

General Provisions of the Academic Policy Appeal Process  

It is desirable that a solution to an academic policy appeal be reached at the level closest to the course in which the policy was applied. The appeal shall be considered resolved when the solution offered is accepted by the student and further appeal is not requested or, if reaching the highest level of appeal, until a decision is made by the President.  

If the student does not act on the policy appeal process within the specified time limits, the appeal shall be considered settled based on the last decision rendered. If the student is not notified of a decision within the specified time limit, the appeal is automatically moved to the next step in the appeal process. Time limits may be extended by the mutual, written consent of both parties.  

Students, faculty members and administrators involved in the academic policy appeal process shall act in an ethical manner and shall not be subject to discipline or reprisal because of such involvement.  

To protect all parties concerned, the strictest privacy shall be maintained by all parties involved.  

Student Complaint Process

All students are encouraged to resolve concerns or complaints directly with the appropriate faculty, staff, program directors, division directors, or deans in an informal manner unless a formal university policy or procedure exists (such as formal policies for Financial Aid Appeal Procedure; Grade Appeal Policy and Procedure; Request for Review of Academic Policy; Appeal Review Procedures). If the informal communication does not adequately address a student’s concerns, the student may contact the Vice President for Academic Affairs for academic concerns and the Vice President for Student Affairs for all other complaints or concerns. The Vice President will review the situation with the appropriate area and will either respond personally to the complaint or will direct the appropriate member of the institution to do so within 10 business days of receipt of the written complaint.

The web address where students and the public can find information about complaint policy and procedure is: https://accreditation.sf.edu/student-complaint-resolution.