IV.5. Complaints and Grievances

The chair will inevitably face student complaints about faculty behavior, especially unfair grading, or faculty-to-faculty claims of discrimination or harassment. In the first case, it is critically important for the chair not to rush to judgment when a bevy of students arrives at the door to complain about Professor X’s unfair classroom policies. There may be two sides to the story, and it is up to the chair to gather all information fairly. In the event that a student requests to appeal a course grade, however, the university provides clear procedures to follow, for both undergraduate and graduate students (see Section VI Students - Grade Appeals). Similarly, the Office of Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources has a formal procedure to follow in the case of a discrimination or harassment complaint by individuals who are members of protected groups. In the case of a faculty or staff claim of inappropriate behavior, the university (Bylaws, Article 11) has a formal grievance procedure to follow. Part of the chair’s responsibility is to attempt to resolve complaints at the department level; nevertheless, once a situation rises to the level of formality, as in a grade appeal or a grievance, the chair should notify the appropriate member of the college staff promptly that such action is underway.