Grievance and Appeals Procedure

A variety of appeals and grievance procedures are available to Graduate School students and School of Professional Development students, however grievances should be considered first at the program level. Any appeals of a program’s ruling on a case must be made in writing within two weeks to the Vice Provost of Graduate Education. When warranted, the VP will pass the matter on to the Graduate Council Appeals Committee (GCAC). The VP is responsible for making and implementing a final decision. 

Grievances against a person that involve allegations of scholarly misconduct must be adjudicated by the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR). See Scholarly Misconduct OVPR. Any appeal of decisions made by the Vice President for Research must be presented in writing to the President of the University within two weeks. For a distinction between scholarly and academic misconduct, see Academic Dishonesty and Scholarly Misconduct.

Grievances against a person that involve allegations of employment misconduct must be adjudicated by Human Resource Services.

For graduate students in both schools, these appeals and grievance procedures complement other means to address and resolve concerns such as the Graduate Student Organization, Graduate Student Employees Union, the Graduate Student Advocate, and for graduate research assistants the Research Foundation and the RA Union. Students encountering difficulties with programs, Graduate School or SPD policy or procedure, or with faculty or staff, should discuss the problem with their advisors and their graduate program directors whenever possible.

Grievances for Graduate School Program Students
Program Grievance and Appeals Committee (GAC)

Each graduate program, with active graduate student participation, is to establish a grievance and appeals committee under the following guidelines. Any departmental guidelines beyond these must be made available to graduate students.

  • Equal proportion of graduate students and faculty.
  • Faculty chosen in any way that accords with general policy of the program, but may not include faculty named in an individual grievance case or party to it in some compromising way.
  • Student members chosen by the students in the program without faculty interference, but may not include students named in the grievance case or party to it in some compromising way.
  • The committee may be of any reasonable size but not fewer than four members.
  • Typically the grievance committee will be an ad hoc committee, distinct from the Graduate Studies Committee or a standing sub-committee of the Graduate Studies Committee.

Allegations of academic or professional misconduct including plagiarism, cheating, disallowed collaborations on academic class assignments and take home exams, and/or faculty and student disputes pertaining to authorship, will be adjudicated within the relevant program in the following manner. An initial conference or hearing should occur within two weeks of receipt of a written grievance.

  • A resolution of the alleged grievance should be sought through a conference between the relevant parties and the graduate program director. If it is inappropriate or impossible for the graduate program director to mediate the dispute, this responsibility will be assumed by the department chair.
  • If the matter cannot be resolved through direct mediation, then the graduate program director or department chair will convene a hearing of the program’s grievance committee. The program’s grievance committee will receive written documentation of the alleged violation, and the relevant parties will be given the opportunity to respond. After a thorough investigation, the committee's decision on the disposition of the case will be sent to the relevant parties and to the program director or department chair. The committee can also make recommendations concerning penalties for violations but is not required to do so.
  • The department chair or program director will accept the disposition of the case rendered by the committee and will determine and implement penalties in cases so decided.

Grievances for School of Professional Development Program Students

Students should first communicate with the instructor of the course, if appropriate. If that conversation does not result in a mutually-acceptable agreement, students should communicate with the director of the appropriate program.

In the case that a student finds an academic decision made by a faculty member or program director in SPD is unfair, s/he may appeal the decision.  The student should inform the SPD Manager for Records and Admission in writing (spd@stonybrook.edu).  At this time, the Dean will convene an Academic Standing Committee, which will be made up of an equal number of faculty/staff and SPD students (generally two of each); the members of the committee (other than the Dean) will not be from the program from which the appeal has come.  The Academic Standing Committee will review the student’s appeal, ask for input from the relevant instructor and/or program director, and request any additional information required from the student. When the committee has come to a decision, the Dean will alert the student, the relevant faculty member and/or program director as to the result.

Appeals for Graduate School and School of Professional Development Students

If the relevant parties wish to appeal either the process, disposition or the penalties in a case of alleged academic or professional misconduct, a written appeal of the program’s decision must be presented to the Vice Provost of Graduate Education within two weeks. The VP may choose to forward the case to the Graduate Council Appeals Committee (GCAC), who will then advise the VP on the disposition of the case and possible penalties. The Vice Provost of Graduate Education will determine and implement penalties for academic or professional misconduct. The VP’s disposition of the case will be forwarded in writing to the relevant parties and to the program director or department chair.

Graduate Council Appeals Committee (GCAC)

The Graduate Council Appeals Committee (GCAC) will consist of an equal number of graduate students and faculty. Faculty members, including the committee chair, will be appointed by the Graduate Council. Graduate student members will be appointed by the Graduate Student Organization.

The goal of the GCAC is to resolve and/or adjudicate grievances and appeals as fairly and expeditiously as possible. The GCAC may consider appeals either on technical issues of procedure or substantive conclusions of the program’s grievance committee and may suggest other resolutions of the problem. In addition to addressing specific appeals brought to it by the Dean of the Graduate School, the GCAC may recommend changes in policies of the program or University.

The GCAC will consider all appeals addressed to it unless the committee unanimously denies standing. The person who is appealing a program grievance decision is responsible to state clearly and concisely the nature of the grievance and the cause for request of an appeals hearing. Criteria for assessing the initial standing of an appeal include those policies addressed in this Bulletin or in published and approved program handbooks or guidelines.

Cases of academic or professional misconduct that are referred to the GCAC will be adjudicated in the following manner.

  • Upon receiving a written appeal, the chair of the GCAC will convene a meeting of the full committee. This initial full meeting of the GCAC must occur within two weeks of receipt of the appeal, or as soon as the committee can be convened if classes are not in session.
  • All GCAC members will have equal access to all documents and information. The Graduate School will appoint a faculty/staff member to assist the GCAC in obtaining, reproducing and disseminating the relevant information.
  • The proceedings of the GCAC are confidential. Since information concerning an appeal may be of sensitive, highly personal and confidential nature, such information must not be disseminated outside the committee, except as necessary to the Graduate Student Advocate.
  • The person who is filing the appeal must communicate with the GCAC only through its chair, and all such communications must be written. The GCAC will arrange for an interpreter or similar assistance if it deems that such aid would be useful.
  • The GCAC should attempt to reach a consensus on all issues. Upon reaching a decision, the GCAC will issue a single written report to the Dean of the Graduate School, who will make recommendations on all points raised in the formal appeal that the committee has agreed to consider. The report should present the rationale for its decision(s). The substance of any dissent must be included in the text of the report.
  • All GCAC members must sign this report, which will be forwarded to the party who filed the appeal, the program director or department chair, and the Dean of the Graduate School.
  • The GCAC will present to the Graduate Council and the Graduate Student Organization an annual report documenting its activities but not disclosing the substance of the appeals.

The Vice Provost of Graduate Education's Decision

The disposition of the Vice Provost of Graduate Education is final. 

Research Misconduct (Office of the Vice President for Research - OVPR)

The Research Integrity Officer within OVPR must be contacted regarding allegations of research misconduct. Such cases will be reviewed in accordance with University Policy P210 (http://www.stonybrook.edu/policy/policies.shtml?ID=210).

 

 

Keywords - Academic dishonesty, Stony Brook University, Grievance and Appeals, Graduate Bulletin, Research misconduct.