Formal Grade Appeal Process

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How it Works

The full process (on which this section is based) is listed here:

Part 1: Unit (Department) Level

  1. Each department or other instructional unit shall establish a standing grievance committee chair who is not the chair of the department.
  2. For each case, this chair will appoint an ad hoc grievance committee, consisting of:
    1. Three faculty members
    2. One faculty member from the same department/unit
    3. One faculty member from a different department/unit
    4. Two students in good standing appointed by the student association of the department.
  3. The ad hoc grievance committee will review all the required materials (from the student and instructor) and make a recommendation regarding a resolution.

Part 2: COCI

  1. This recommendation is then sent to COCI (Committee on Course Instruction), including minority views, in writing.
  2. COCI has the power to change the grade, drop a course retroactively, or retain the course but eliminate the grade from the GPA.
    1. Note that changing the grade to a letter grade and not just a P requires that four out of the five ad hoc committee members need to recommend it.


  1. The process must be started one calendar year from the last day of the semester in which the final grade for the course was posted.
  2. The formal procedure, once initiated, is to be completed at the unit level within 20-working days and at the Senate level within 40-working days if both parties are in residence and the University is in regular session.

Student Instructions

The full process (on which this section is based) is listed here:

(look especially at III.B for student instructions)

Step 0: Informal Attempts

If you have a grievance about a grade, you should first try to speak with your instructor and/or the student ombuds.

Step 1: Assess the Strength of Your Case

The following are grounds for appeal:

  1. the application of non-academic criteria, such as:
    1. the consideration of race, politics, religion, sex, or other criteria not directly reflective of performance related to course requirements;
  2. sexual harassment;
  3. or improper academic procedures that unfairly affect your grade.

Step 2: Initiate the Formal Process

Requirements are listed here:

Submit the case in writing to the department chair. Emailing is perfectly fine. This email should include your entire case:

  1. Specify clearly the grounds on which you are disputing the case, as listed here:
    1. Discrimination
    2. Sexual harassment
    3. Improper academic procedures that unfairly affect your grade
  2. There should be a “description of the basis for grievance”, and, if it exists, the original work in question.

From here, the entire departmental process, including the ad hoc committee, must be completed within 20 days of the date of the email and sent to COCI.

Step 3: Wait for, then respond to, the instructor’s rebuttal.

  1. The instructor will write and send a rebuttal through the ad hoc committee.
  2. Write a rebuttal to that rebuttal.
  3. The instructor will have one last chance to write another rebuttal before the case is judged and sent to COCI.

Step 4: Option to submit additional written materials to the ad hoc committee

  1. The ad hoc grievance committee will meet to discuss all these materials. The student and instructor may present additional information in writing to the ad hoc grievance committee:
    1. prior to the meeting or,
    2. At the option of the ad hoc grievance committee chair, in person to the ad hoc grievance committee.
  2. Neither party may be present while the other is appearing before the committee or while the committee is deliberating.

Step 5: Wait

  1. The department chair will forward all relevant documents and notify COCI in writing of the recommendation within two weeks of receiving the report from the ad hoc grievance committee.
  2. From here, all you can do is wait for the COCI judgement. This is required to take a maximum of 40 working days.
Categories: Academic