Student Rights and Responsibilities
- Academic Rights
- Academic Appeals
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Academic Grievances
- ADA Grievance Policy
- Sexual Harassment
- Student Code of Conduct
The student has a right to take reasoned exception to data and views offered in the classroom and to reserve judgement about matters of opinion without fear of penalty. He/she has a right to a course grade that represents the instructor’s good-faith judgment of his/her performance in the course, and to protection against improper disclosure of information concerning his/her grades, views, beliefs, political associations, health or character which instructors acquire in the course of their professional relationships with the student. The student has a right to accurately and clearly stated information which should enable him/her to determine:
- a. the general requirements for establishing and maintaining an acceptable academic standing;
- b. his/her own academic relationship with the University and any special conditions which apply;
- c. the graduation requirements for a particular curriculum and major.
If you feel any of your rights have been violated or that you have been treated unfairly, you should follow one of the three procedures outlined below.
An academic appeal is a request for review of an administrator’s decision made with respect to an individual student which bears upon his/her student career. The appeals procedure does not apply to issues which have broad application to the university as a whole or to constituent groupings within the university. However, appeals can be made in matters such as admission, transfer of credit, probation, suspension, dismissal, and other similar matters. A supervisor’s decision in an appeal can itself be appealed, but there is no appeal of the President’s decisions except in cases where it is reasonably alleged that a decision against the student was based on discrimination with respect to race, sex, age, handicap, religion, or national origin.
You may file an appeal whenever you can reasonably claim that an administrator’s decision affecting your program of study was not justified by the procedures and/or guidelines established to govern that decision. It is not necessary that you allege discrimination or other wrongdoing on the part of the administrator. You should submit the appeal in writing to the immediate supervisor of the administrator whose decision you question. It is your responsibility to gather the evidence necessary to support your case and to include that evidence when submitting the written appeal. In preparing the appeal, you should keep in mind that the primary issue is whether the administrative decision was justified by the procedures and/or guidelines established to govern that decision.
The supervisor to whom the appeal is made may choose to appoint and be advised by a consultative board composed of students and/or faculty and/or administrators of the supervisor’s own choosing, and may also choose to charge such a board with hearing oral arguments and/or with making inquiries into specified matters of fact. However, if you have alleged discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, handicap, religion, or national origin, a consultative board must be appointed and must include at least one student and at least one faculty member who is not an administrator. In no case will the supervisor be bound by the advice of the board.
The following grievance procedure primarily applies to alleged violations of a student’s rights by his/her instructor. However, if your problem is related to admission, transfer of credit, probation, suspension, or dismissal, you may wish to enter an academic appeal, as described in the previous section of this handbook. If your problem is with an administrator’s decision regarding a matter between you and your instructor, you should use the academic appeals process unless you can reasonably claim that the administrator’s decision constitutes a violation of your rights. In the latter case, you may choose to use the academic grievance procedure, adapting it to your case so as to begin with the administrator and his/her supervisor rather than the instructor and his/her chair and dean (as outlined below).
The Academic Policies Committee is the final arbiter of whether such a grievance against an administrator should be resolved instead through the appeals process. If your problem is related to a nonacademic issue, you should refer to the Student Conduct Code. If you wish to initiate a grievance, you must follow the student academic grievance procedure as outlined below, keeping in mind the following principles:
- You must start with a sincere attempt to settle the dispute in an informal manner with the instructor. Administrators can initially hear your concerns and refer you to this document, but they will not discuss any specific grievance until the appropriate procedural steps have been taken.
- Within the guidelines of the institution, faculty have authority and responsibility for course content, classroom procedure, and grading, except insofar as it can be shown that a decision was arbitrary or capricious, or based on discrimination with respect to race, religion, sex, handicap, age, or national origin.
- In order for you to prepare your case, keep in mind that when you present the facts the burden of proof is on you, not on the instructor.
- Students who have legitimate grievances which cannot be resolved at the departmental level are encouraged to pursue their cases and follow the procedures outlined below. However, frivolous or mendacious complaints are discouraged. Students and faculty are further advised that adherence to the full truth represents the best service to their cases, and indeed that misstated or overstated claims by the principals or their witnesses about the misdeeds of others may lead to civil penalties.
Administrators shall not discuss the details of a specific grievance with a student who has not followed the procedure outlined herein, and any representative of a student must follow the same procedure. Public statements about a case shall be withheld by the parties involved, by the board of review, and by all participants in the hearings until the final decision has been communicated to the parties to the grievance. If and when an official statement is made of the result of the procedures outlined below, it shall be made through the office of the appropriate dean. Access to the written record of the hearing, and to all other records, findings, and recommendations of the board of review and any administrators involved in appeals shall be limited to authorized personnel. In the following document, the term “faculty” shall be construed to mean those persons defined as “faculty” by the Bylaws and Policies of the Board of Regents, the Statutes of the University and those persons appointed by the President to administrative positions at the institution. Further, the term “days” denotes normal working days on which university classes meet. Weekends, holidays, final exam periods, and breaks between and within semesters are not to be counted in calculating these time lines. It should be understood that, at each level in the academic chain of command above the instructor, e.g. the department chair, dean of the college, vice president for academic affairs, and president of the institution, the administrator may designate an appropriate representative. Once a student has initiated a written grievance procedure, all responses along this chain of command must be in writing.
I. Stage One: The Informal Procedure
The student should first make a sincere attempt to settle a dispute in an informal manner with the instructor. If the student is still not satisfied with the instructor’s decision, he/she may then discuss the matter with the instructor’s department chair. If the problem remains unresolved, the student may then discuss the matter with the instructor’s dean.
II. Stage Two: The Written Grievance
If the student has exhausted the procedures outlined in section I above, he/she may continue as follows:
- The student shall submit the grievance in writing to the instructor involved. This document, hereinafter referred to as the written grievance, shall include, but not be limited to, all supporting documentation and a statement of the specific relief sought by the student. The written grievance must be submitted to the instructor no later than midterm of the semester following the actions which gave rise to the grievance.
- If agreement is not reached within five (5) days of the receipt of the written agreement by the instructor the student ay appeal the instructor’s decision to the department chair. The student shall so advise the chair within five (5) days of receiving that decision.
- The department chair shall respond to the written grievance within five (5) days of receiving it. The student may choose to appeal the chair’s response by submitting a copy of the grievance to the dean of the appropriate college. The appeal must be made within five (5) days of the student’s having received the response. No appeal may be initiated after the fifth day following the student’s receipt of the chair’s response. As an alternative to a formal hearing (see stage 3), if the student is not satisfied with the solution, the student is encouraged to refer the matter to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee. Augusta State University has chosen mediation as its ADR process. Mediation involves the use of a neutral third party who seeks to aid the disputants and their effort to reach a mutually satisfying resolution. A student choosing the ADR process should submit a written grievance to the Dean of Students, rather than to the academic dean. Upon completion of the ADR process, if no formal resolution has been reached, the student may then move on to Stage 3 by submitting a written grievance to the appropriate academic dean within five (5) days.
III. Stage Three: The Formal Hearing
If agreement is not reached within five (5) days of the submission of the written grievance to the dean, then the dean or either party may ask the Academic Policies Committee to arrange a hearing before a formal board of review.
- A) The person submitting this request to the Academic Policies Committee shall transmit with it a copy of the written grievance and any other documents or exhibits which he/she considers pertinent.
- B) Within five (5) days of receiving the request to arrange a hearing, the Academic Policies Committee shall act upon that request. In the case of a grievance against an administrator, the committee shall first determine whether the problem should more appropriately be resolved through the academic appeals process or whether the academic grievance process is the appropriate context. In the latter case, the committee shall then determine how to adapt the procedures of the academic grievance process to this particular situation. It shall then appoint a board of review, hereinafter referred to as the board, in the following manner:
- The board shall consist of five to seven (5-7) members, including faculty members, at least one student, and the Dean of Students or his/her designate. One of the faculty members shall be designated by the Academic Policies Committee to serve as the chair of the board.
- The Academic Policies Committee shall consult with the parties to assure that its selection of a chair is acceptable to both parties. Each party shall also be permitted to strike from one to three other proposed members from the board. When a party strikes a proposed member, the committee will name another in his/her place; such substitutions may also be struck by either party if that party has not already exhausted his/her three strikes.
- No party to the dispute shall be a member of the board.
- Immediately upon acceptance of the appointment by the chair of the board, the chair of the Academic Policies Committee shall deliver to him/her the written grievance and all other documents and/or exhibits received by the committee in the context of the grievance.
- C) Within five (5) days of the appointment of the board, the Chair shall convene a preliminary closed session of the board for the following purposes:
- To determine the day and hour of the hearing. The hearing must begin within ten (10) days of the preliminary session.
- To distribute to the board all prior communications and documents pertinent to the grievance, including copies of the written grievance.
- D) After the preliminary meeting of the board, the chair shall:
- Continue attempts at arbitration at any appropriate point in these proceedings.
- Prepare an agenda for the hearing and arrange for a meeting place.
- Engage the assistance of the Dean of Students in utilizing the services of a confidential secretary or other appropriate means to obtain a verbatim written record of the proceedings.
- Give written notice to both parties at least five (5) days before convening the hearing. In so doing, the chair shall advise the parties of their procedural rights, which shall include the right of due process and specifically the right to:
- (a) Have present a nonparticipating advisor. The faculty member may have present either a member of the legal profession or a full-time Augusta State University faculty member. The student may have present any one individual and may choose to replace that individual with another at any point during the hearing.
- (b) Call for supporting witnesses.
- (c) Inquire into all written and oral testimony, depositions, and exhibits of evidence.
- (d) Know the identity of all witnesses and the authors of all written testimony and have the opportunity to confront all such persons by cross-examination or by affidavit.
- (e) Endeavor to rebut all evidence.
- (f) Interpret and summarize their individual positions, particularly in relation to wider issues of academic rights and responsibilities.
- (g) Be informed of the findings and recommendations of the board. The chair shall be deemed to have satisfied this requirement if he/she calls the attention of the parties to section III(D)4 of this document.
- (E) The hearing shall be held in closed session. The chair shall distribute copies of the agenda to the parties, the board members, and any witnesses who may have been called. The chair shall supervise the proceedings and shall rule on any unusual or special elements with respect to procedures of the board after giving due notice to disputing parties or their representatives of their procedural rights.
- (F) The parties involved must present their own cases even though counsel may be present during the formal hearing. Normally, the presentations shall include a lucid statement of the case, a presentation of the case by affidavits, testimony and/or exhibits, and a summary which includes a statement of the specific relief sought from the board.
- (G) The board shall try to complete the agenda for the hearing in one session. If this is not possible, the term “hearing” as used throughout this document shall apply collectively to all sessions taken together. The board shall in any case see to it that all sessions of the hearing have been concluded within five (5) days of the first session of the hearing.
IV. Stage Four: Deliberations of the Board and Its Report
- A) Within five (5) days of the conclusion of the hearing, the chair shall see to it that copies of a written verbatim record of the hearing are distributed to the members of the board, to the two parties, and to the appropriate dean.
- B) Within five (5) days of the distribution of the written verbatim record the board shall meet again to deliberate upon its findings and recommendations. The board may choose to meet more than once for this purpose, but in no case may the deliberations continue past the tenth day following the distribution of the written verbatim record. The board shall confine its deliberations to the case presented.
- C) Within five (5) days of reaching a decision, the board shall issue to the appropriate dean a written report giving its findings and recommendations.
V. Stage Five: The Dean’s Decision
- A) If the board has found that the instructor made an arbitrary or capricious decision against the student, or one based on discrimination with regard to race, religion, sex, handicap, age, or national origin, and if the board has recommended appropriate relief, the dean may order that relief. Such relief may include, but is not limited to, a change in a disputed course grade. If the board has made a recommendation on a basis other than a finding that the instructor made an arbitrary or capricious decision against the student, or one based on discrimination with regard to race, religion, sex, handicap, age, or national origin, the dean may order that the recommendation shall be followed.
- B) Within five (5) days of receiving the board’s findings and recommendations, the dean shall forward the following by registered mail to each of the parties involved:
- A copy of the board’s findings and recommendations.
- The dean’s decision with regard to any relief sought by the parties and/or recommended by the board.
- Notification to both parties of the right to appeal before the dean takes action. The dean shall be deemed to have satisfied this requirement if he/she calls the attention of the parties to section VI of this document.
- C) If no party makes a written appeal within five (5) days of having been notified by the dean of his/her decision, that decision shall be considered final and the dean shall see to its implementation.
VI. Stage Six: The Appeals Process
- A) It is particularly emphasized that senior administrators are not to be contacted about the details of a grievance except in the context of an appeal. Neither of the parties is to take his/her case to senior administrators until after the procedures set forth above have come to their conclusion. This rule applies equally to any representative of the parties.
- B) Neither the faculty grievance procedure nor any other procedure may be invoked as a substitute for the appeals process set forth below.
- C) Appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs
- If either party wishes to appeal the decision of the dean, he/she must do so in writing to the Vice President for Academic Affairs within five (5) days of receiving notification from the dean. The appeal shall include, but is not limited to, the following:
- a) Copies of the written grievance, of the findings and recommendations of the board, of the written verbatim record of the hearing, and of the dean’s letter notifying the parties of his/her decision.
- b) An explanation of the reason for the appeal.
- c) A specific statement of the relief which the appellant is seeking from the vice president.
- In the case of an appeal by the student, if the vice president finds that the instructor made an arbitrary or capricious decision against the student, or one based on discrimination with regard to race, religion, sex, handicap, age, or national origin, he/ she may order relief for the student, including but not limited to a change in a disputed course grade.
- Within five (5) days of receiving the written appeal, the vice president shall forward his/her decision to the appropriate dean, to the two parties, and to the chairs of the board and the Academic Policies Committee. In communicating this decision, the vice president shall advise the two parties of the right to appeal to the president before the vice president’s decision takes effect. The vice president shall be deemed to have satisfied this requirement if he/she calls the attention of the parties to sections VI(D) and VI(E) of this document.
- If no party makes a written appeal within five (5) days of having been notified by the vice president of his/her decision, that decision shall be considered final, and the vice president shall communicate it to the appropriate dean, who shall see to its implementation.
- If either party wishes to appeal the decision of the dean, he/she must do so in writing to the Vice President for Academic Affairs within five (5) days of receiving notification from the dean. The appeal shall include, but is not limited to, the following:
- D) Appeal to the President
- If either party wishes to appeal the decision of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, he/she must do so in writing to the president of the university within five (5) days of being notified of the vice president’s decision.
- At the same time, the appellant shall give notice of the appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, who shall thereupon forward to the president the materials listed above in section VI(C)1.
- In the case of an appeal by the student, if the president finds that the instructor made an arbitrary or capricious decision against the student, or one based on discrimination with regard to race, religion, sex, handicap, age, or national origin, he/she may order relief for the student, including but not limited to a change in a disputed course grade.
- The president shall communicate his/her decision to the two parties, the chairs of the board and the Academic Policies Committee, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the appropriate dean.
- If either party wishes to appeal the president’s decision to the Board of Regents, he/she shall so advise the president in writing within five (5) days of receiving that decision. If no party so advises the president within those five days, the decision shall be considered final and the president shall communicate this to the appropriate dean, who shall see to its implementation.
- E) Final Disposition
- Final disposition of the case shall be made in accordance with Article IX of the By-Laws of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia: Any person in the University System for whom no other appeal is provided in the Bylaws and who is aggrieved by a final decision of the president of an institution, may apply to the Board of Regents, without prejudice to his/her position, for a review of the decision. The application for review shall be submitted in writing to the Executive Secretary of the Board within a period of twenty days following the decision of the president. It shall state the decision complained of and the redress desired. A review by the Board is not a matter of right, but is within the sound discretion of the Board. If the application for review is granted, the Board or a committee of the Board or a Hearing officer appointed by the Board, shall investigate the matter thoroughly and report its findings and recommendations to the Board. The Board shall render its decision thereon within sixty days from the filing date of the application for review or from the date of any hearing which may be held thereon. The decision of the Board shall be final and binding for all purposes. Under current Board of Regents procedures, action by the president on grade appeals is the final and binding administrative decision; however, in making a policy decision to reject routine grade appeals, the Board of Regents did not intend to bar the receipt of grade complaints grounded upon alleged invidious discriminatory motivations, such as improper considerations of race, gender, national origin, religion, age, or handicap.
Augusta State University has adopted an internal grievance procedure providing for prompt and equitable resolution of student complaints alleging any action prohibited by the U.S. Department of Justice regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title II states, in part, that “no otherwise qualified disabled individual shall, solely by reason of such disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination” under any programs or activities sponsored by a public entity.
The student should make every good faith effort to address their specific complaint directly with the faculty member who is involved with the initial problem before filing a formal grievance. If this is unsuccessful, the student may issue a written complaint to the faculty/staff member and their immediate supervisor. The complaint should contain a specifically alleged ADA violation and should, in detail, explain how the student feels that his/her ADA rights have been violated.
The faculty/staff members and the corresponding department heads who receive an ADA complaint should make every attempt to resolve the matter, if possible, and issue a written response to the student complainant within ten (10) working days. This written response should be undersigned by the head of the department under which the faculty/staff member is employed. ADA complaints should be filed with the appropriate parties in the following manner:
The Office of Disability Services Complaints relating to direct services received through the office of Disability Services should be submitted to the Director of Testing and Disability Services in the office of Disability Services within ten (10) days of the alleged violation. Students must be formally registered with the office of Disability Services before a complaint can be filed with this office. All students with a documented disability may register for services by completing the initial intake session.
Student ADA complaints relating to the office of Admissions should be submitted to the Director of Admissions within ten (10) days of the alleged act. If a prospective student believes that a requirement for admission has a disproportionately adverse effect upon him/her, based on their disability, the prospective student may submit a written request for reconsideration to the Director of Admissions.
ADA complaints directly related to teaching faculty members should be submitted to the faculty member within ten (10) days of the alleged violation. Each department has a department head who supervises faculty members. The name of the current department head can be discovered by simply contacting the department.
Physical Campus Accessibility
If a student has a complaint relating to the physical accessibility of the campus, this complaint needs to be directed to the Director of Campus Facilities Planning within ten (10) days after the accessibility issue is noticed. The Director of the Physical Plant supervises the Facilities Planning Director.
Employment related student ADA complaints need to be filed with the Student Employment Manager immediately after the occurrence of the alleged violation. The Director of Financial Aid supervises the Student Employment Manager.
General Complaint Appeals Procedures
If the student is still dissatisfied with the previous attempts to mediate their complaint, they have a right to issue a formal complaint to the presiding Dean of Students, who has been designated to coordinate ADA compliance efforts. A complaint should be filed in writing and must contain the name and address and telephone number (if available) of the person filing it. A brief description of the specific alleged ADA violation of the regulations must be contained in the complaint.
A formal appeal to the Dean of Students may be filed immediately after the complainant receives the decision from the appropriate department. Appeals to the Dean of Students must be filed and received at least within five (5) days of the students receipt of the response letter from the appropriate department. A formal letter of appeal must be written and filed with the Dean of Students. An investigation, as may be appropriate, shall follow a filing of a complaint. The investigation shall be conducted by the Dean of Students, except in cases where the complaint is against the Dean of Students. In this instance, the investigation shall be conducted by the ADA Grievance Committee. These rules contemplate informal but thorough investigations, affording all interested persons an opportunity to submit evidence relevant to a complaint.
A third appeal may then be filed with the ADA Grievance Committee within five (5) days of the receipt of a decision from the Dean of Students. The ADA Grievance Committee shall consist of two faculty members who are not involved with the present complaint, and two students. At least one member of the ADA Grievance Committee should be an individual with a disability receipt of a decision from the Dean of Students.
The ADA Grievance Committee shall consist of two faculty members who are not involved with the present complaint, and two students. At least one member of the ADA Grievance Committee should be an individual with a disability. A written determination as to the validity of the complaint and a description of the resolution, if any, should be issued by the Dean of Students and a copy forwarded to the complainant within ten (10) working days after its filing (unless both the complainant and the Dean agree to extend the deadline for an additional time which is not to exceed five (5) additional working days). The Dean of Students shall maintain the files and records of Augusta State University relating to the complaints filed.
A written appeal of the decision of the ADA Grievance Committee may be made to the President of the University within five (5) days. The appeal to the President must include
- (a) the specific alleged ADA violation
- (b) a specific statement of how the complainants rights have been violated by the actions of the university in dealing with the grievance and
- (c) a specific statement of what the complainant is seeking that they did not receive. Should the President agree to hear the appeal, his decision will be final. If the President concurs with the previous decision or does not choose to hear the matter, then the decision of the ADA Grievance Committee will be final. The complainant will be sent a written decision from the president or their appointed representative within ten (10) working days.
Specific Appeals Procedures
Related to Course, Academic or Degree Requirement Waivers Decisions related to general academic or degree requirements waivers or substitutions are made in accordance to standards established by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Academic and degree requirement waivers are initially reviewed by the Director of Testing and Disability Services. In order to request a waiver, the student should submit a written request for a course, academic or degree requirement to the Disability Services Director. The Director of Testing and Disability Services should submit a written response within ten (10) days after receiving a written request for review from the student.
If the student is still dissatisfied a more formal appeal can be made to the Vice President of Academic Affairs within five (5) days of the denial from the Director of Testing and Disability Services. Because of the nature of academic and degree requirement waivers, appeals related to degree or academic substitutions should be made in writing and directed to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. All appeals to the Vice President for Academic Affairs should be submitted in writing. A formal written opinion from the Vice President for Academic Affairs should be submitted within ten (10) days after receiving a written complaint from a student. In these cases a final appeal can be made to the President of the University. The President of the University may concur with the decision of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, or make an independent decision relating to the complaint. Remedies for resolution may be included in the President’s decision.
The President of the University should issue a final written decision of this appeal within ten (10) days. The President’s decision on ADA matters relating to academic degree requirements of waivers shall be final.
The Appeals Process in General
The rights of a person to a prompt and equitable solution of the complaint filed hereunder shall not be impaired by the person’s pursuit of other remedies such as the filing of an ADA complaint with the responsible federal department or agency. Use of this grievance procedure is not a prerequisite to the pursuit of other remedies. These rules shall be construed to protect the substantive rights of interested persons, to meet appropriate due process standards and to assure that Augusta State University complies with the ADA and implementing regulations.