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Graduate School

Appendix A: Graduate Student Rights and Grievance Procedures

Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities

Graduate Student Academic Grievance Procedures

A. Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities

1. Every graduate student has:

a. Freedom of inquiry, conscience, expression, and association and the right to petition for the redress of grievances.

b. The right, to the extent permitted by law, to have any information about his or her opinions and associations unrelated to academic performance or assigned responsibilities that has been acquired by professors or administrators in the course of their work as instructors, advisors, or counselors held confidential at his or her request and not disclosed to others without his or her consent.

c. Freedom from unfair treatment by faculty or administration in the assignment and evaluation of academic work toward the completion of requirements for a particular course.

d. The right to due process in the conduct of proceedings pursuant to the provisions of this document or of any proceedings conducted under any other provisions of any other rule or regulation governing Kansas State University.

e. The right to immunity from reprisal in the form of University disciplinary action or proceedings for seeking redress pursuant to the provisions of this document.

2. Every graduate student is responsible for:

a. The exercise of applicable rights and freedoms, as enumerated above, in a manner that does not materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the institution nor infringe upon the rights of other students, faculty, or staff.

b. Completing the requirements and meeting the standards of any course in which he or she is enrolled.

c. Understanding the legal and ethical standards applicable to scholarship in general and to the student's discipline, and understanding the policies and procedures that the University has in place to ensure compliance with these standards.

d. Diligent pursuit and timely completion of all responsibilities associated with progress toward a degree.

B. Graduate Student Academic Grievance Procedures

The Graduate Handbook contains general rules and procedures governing graduate education developed by the Graduate Council. In addition, each graduate program may have more detailed departmental or program guidelines that specify how that degree program operates within general Graduate School policies, and what graduate students can expect during their graduate career. If departmental or program policies are inconsistent with Graduate School policy, the Graduate School policy is the overriding policy.

1. Scope of Authority

This policy is designed to resolve concerns and grievances brought by graduate students related to their graduate level academic program as more fully defined below. This policy does not address concerns or grievances related to courses taken from instructors associated with consortiums or groups external to Kansas State University. In such cases, the grievance procedures of the external consortiums or groups should be used.

The formal grievance must be initiated within 90 working days of the time that the graduate student knows of the matter prompting the grievance, or the graduate student relinquishes any opportunity to pursue the grievance. Under these procedures, a graduate student is any person who has been formally admitted as a graduate student at the time the alleged events leading to the grievance occurred. A grievance means a dispute concerning some aspect of academic involvement arising from an administrative or faculty decision which the graduate student claims is unjust or is in violation of his or her rights established through formal prior agreement. "Grievances" under this procedure shall include disputes over grades, course requirements, graduation/degree program requirements, and thesis and dissertation committee and/or advisor decisions.

Non-academic conduct of graduate students is governed by the KSU Student Code of Conduct in the Student Life Handbook and the hearing procedures therein. The undergraduate grievance procedure, as described in the Student Life Handbook, applies to any academic matter involving an undergraduate student taking graduate courses. The Veterinary Medicine academic grievance procedures, as described in Appendix A of the Student Life Handbook, govern academic matters involving courses within the DVM degree. The K-State Honor & Integrity System, as described in the Student Life Handbook, governs issues of academic integrity. Allegations of misconduct believed to constitute discrimination, including sexual harassment as described and defined in the “Policy and Procedure for Discrimination and Harassment Complaints” in the University Handbook should be referred to the Affirmative Action Office or the Office of Student Life. Allegations of assault covered under the “Policy Prohibiting Sexual Violence” should be referred to the Office of Student Life.

2. Definition of Terms

a. Graduate Student - Under these procedures, a graduate student is any person who has been formally admitted into the Graduate School of Kansas State University and was enrolled as a graduate student at the time the alleged events leading to the grievance occurred.

b. Grievance - A grievance means a dispute concerning some aspect of academic involvement arising from an administrative or faculty decision that the graduate student claims is unjust or is in violation of his or her rights established through formal prior agreement. "Grievances" under this procedure shall include disputes over grades, course requirements, graduation/degree program requirements, and thesis and dissertation committee and/or advisor decisions.

c. Respondent - The person(s) against whom a grievance is being made.

d. Working Days - For the purpose of this section a "working day" is defined as any weekday that is part of the regular nine-month academic calendar, including all days that classes are conducted and the period of final examinations. Legal holidays and the time when summer school is in session are excluded from the definition of "working day." However, if it is agreed to by all of the parties, a hearing can be conducted and/or the process completed during a vacation period.

e. Faculty advisor - A faculty member assigned by the graduate program director or department head to provide guidance to the graduate student until the appointment of the student’s supervisory committee.

f. Hearing advisor - The person who provides guidance to the student or respondent during the grievance process. Arrangement for and compensation of the hearing advisor, if applicable, is the responsibility of each party.

g. Consortium – A formal arrangement between Kansas State University and one or more accredited institutions of higher education that have formal approved degree programs or graduate certificates approved by the Graduate Council and Faculty Senate.

3. Guidelines for Administrative Review and Conflict Resolution

a. The graduate student should attempt to resolve any conflict first with the faculty member, supervisory committee, or administrator involved.

b. If the conflict remains unresolved, the graduate student should discuss the conflict with the department head/chairperson, or other immediate administrative superior of the respondent, the Academic Dean or his/her designee and, if pertinent, with any relevant departmental faculty member or committee. The outcome of this conflict resolution process shall be a written document. The document should be signed by all participating parties to confirm their receipt. Copies of the signed document will be provided to the graduate student, respondent, administrative superior, and Academic Dean involved in the conflict resolution session. The official copy shall be sent to the Graduate School to be retained in the student's file.

c. If the conflict resolution process is not successful, the Academic Dean and the Associate Dean of the Graduate School will confer within 10 working days following receipt of the conflict resolution process document to determine if further conflict resolution steps should be pursued. The outcome of this conference will be shared in writing with all parties participating in 3b.

4. Formal Grievance Procedure

a. If the grievance is not resolved by the above discussions and the graduate student chooses to pursue the matter further, the graduate student must submit a written statement and the Notice of Grievance form to the Associate Dean of the Graduate School within 10 working days after the receipt of the outcome of 3c. A Notice of Grievance form is available in the Graduate School or on the Graduate School website. The written grievance shall include a clear, concise statement regarding the nature of the academic matter to be resolved, which may include the policy or policies/procedures thought to be violated, and the redress requested. The Associate Dean of the Graduate School shall forward a copy of the grievance to the respondent. Within 10 working days after receipt of the grievance, the respondent shall provide the Associate Dean of the Graduate School with a copy of his or her written response.

b. The grievant or respondent may request a one-time extension for 10 working days for good cause. A written request for an extension must be filed with the Grievance Chair, who will review and rule on the request after consultation with both parties and may consult with the Associate Dean of the Graduate School. Grounds for an extension may include but not be limited to a) Dispute resolution in process; b) Affirmative Action complaint and investigation is in process c) Extenuating personal circumstances.

c. Upon receipt of the written response, the Associate Dean of the Graduate School shall, within 10 working days, appoint an ad hoc grievance committee to hear and make a recommendation regarding the grievance. The Associate Dean of the Graduate School shall appoint, from the membership of the Graduate Council, a committee chair (without vote, unless there is a tie), and two committee members. A member of the Graduate School staff will be selected as secretary (without vote). Two graduate students will be appointed as committee members from a slate of nominees selected by the Graduate Student Council.

d. The hearing shall be scheduled within 30 working days after the appointment of the ad hoc grievance committee barring extenuating circumstances.

e. The hearing is not a legal process; however, either party may arrange for a court certified reporter to record the hearing at the party’s expense. If recorded the transcription is the property of the party paying for the service. The transcription will not be used by the committee in their deliberations.

f. A student with a disability requiring special accommodations should communicate the specific needs to the Associate Dean at least five working days prior to the scheduled hearing.

g. Guidelines for ad hoc grievance committee hearings

1. Pre-hearing procedures

a. Notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be given by the chair to the graduate student and the respondent not less than 10 working days prior to the hearing.

b. The notice shall include the written grievance and the written response of the respondent.

c. A copy of the procedures guiding the hearings as outlined in Step 2 Hearing (4 d2) shall accompany the notice.

d. The following must be submitted by each party to the chair at least five working days prior to the hearing:

i. A copy of all written supporting documentation that the party will present at the hearing,

ii. A list of witnesses to be called by the party (each party is responsible for ensuring that his/her witnesses are at the hearing), and

iii. The name of any hearing advisor who will accompany the party to the hearing and whether the advisor is an attorney. The hearing advisor may advise the party but not otherwise participate in the proceedings. If the advisors accompanying both the grievant and respondent are attorneys, the hearing chair also will be provided appropriate counsel.

iv. The name of any court certified reporter who will accompany the party to the hearing, if applicable.

e . Copies of materials listed in 1d will be provided to the grievant and respondent a minimum of three working days prior to the hearing.

2. Hearing

a. The hearing is an administrative process and will follow the procedures outlined in this section..The committee will have complete discretion in deciding any procedural questions that arise during the hearing.

b. At the discretion of the committee, arrangements may be made for procedural formats for the hearing for students enrolled in distance graduate education programs.

c. At the hearing, each party may be accompanied by a hearing advisor who may advise the party, but not participate in the hearing.

d. All hearings shall be closed except for parties to the grievance and their hearing advisors unless the graduate student requests that the hearing be open. All parties are advised that the committee routinely records the hearing for its own use.

e. Either party may arrange for a court certified reporter to record the hearing at the party’s expense. The party must notify the Grievance Chair according to pre-hearing procedures outlined in 4g. If recorded, the transcription is the property of the party incurring the expense of the service. The transcript will not be used by the committee in their deliberation.

f. The committee will permit each party to present a brief opening statement of no more than 10 minutes.

g. The evidence shall be presented by the graduate student and then by the respondent at the hearing.

h. The parties and the committee shall have the opportunity to question all witnesses

i. The committee will accept any new evidence, information, or testimony, which it feels is pertinent to the grievance and will help the committee understand and evaluate the issue(s) before it. The committee chair will determine the relevance and materiality of the evidence offered. Legal rules of evidence shall not apply.

j. Following the presentation of evidence, the committee will permit each party to present a brief closing statement of no more than 10 minutes.

k. The committee will meet in closed session to deliberate and recommend action to the Dean of the Graduate School on the grievance.

l. Within 10 working days from the conclusion of the hearing, the committee will prepare a report that will serve as its recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate School. The report will contain the factual findings and recommendations of the committee and the reasons for the recommendation. The findings of the committee are final and cannot be appealed.

m. The Dean of the Graduate School shall respond to the recommendation of the committee within 10 working days of receiving the committee’s recommendation. Copies of the response and notification of subsequent actions should be sent to the committee and the parties of the grievance.

n. The complete record, including the report to the Dean of the Graduate School, evidence obtained during the hearing, and the response from the Dean of the Graduate School shall be placed in a file by the grievance committee chair. This file shall be retained in the graduate school for at least three years following the conclusion of the grievance hearing. Each party may, at its own expense, copy the record or any part thereof at a place and time to be determined by the Dean of the Graduate School.

5. Enforcement of the Graduate School's Decision

The Dean of the Graduate School has the authority and responsibility to enforce the decision.