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Grievance Policies in Guide

This page provides information about adding a grievance policy into Guide for all graduate programs.

The following communication was sent by Graduate School Dean Karpus in January 2020. Further details may be found below:

"As part of the continued campus effort to develop Guide as the singular reference document for official academic matters at the university, this semester the Graduate School - in collaboration with the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Reporting and the Office of the Registrar - is collecting program grievance policies. These policies provide graduate students clear steps to resolve academic and non-academic situations in which they feel unfairly treated or aggrieved by faculty, staff, or other students.

If your program* has a grievance and/or appeals policy:

  • Please email the full text of the policy to no later than February 29, 2020. Indicate which individual major degree plan or named option in your program the policy applies to; if you do not, we will assume the policy is relevant for your entire graduate program. Note that central policies and resources (e.g. policy on Hostile and Intimidating Behavior, Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures) as well as reference to the Graduate School’s appeal policy will be included on this page; you do not need to duplicate this information in the text you send.
  • On June 1, 2020, your grievance policy will be published in Guide. At that point, plan to remove grievance policies from your program handbook, website, etc., so you are not maintaining this text in various locations. Instead, update your documents to link directly to the Guide policy tab for your program.

If your program* does not have a grievance/appeals policy:

  • In instances where program-level grievance policy does not yet exist, by default, a statement will be added referring students to your department chair in the grievance policy section of the Guide.
  • Your program will be required to develop and submit a grievance policy in the Fall 2021 Guide publishing June 1, 2021. Guidance on writing grievance policy is available in the Graduate School’s KnowledgeBase. Simply referring to the Graduate School’s appeal policy is not sufficient, because its purpose is to define the process by which a student can appeal a program’s grievance decision. Programs (or in some cases school/colleges) are responsible for maintaining their own grievance policies.

*The School of Education already has a school-wide grievance policy in Guide. We will use this as the standard policy across all SoE programs, and no action is required of SoE coordinators.

Thank you for your cooperation with this effort. Please send any questions to Emily Reynolds, Graduate School Academic Planning Specialist ("


What is a Grievance Policy in this context? 

  • both academic and non-academic grievances that do not fall within existing campus policy
  • should describe the program level process and policy, not the school/college process only
  • for students enrolled within a specific degree or named option (i.e., not for students employed by your department but who are not enrolled in your academic programs)

Visibility and accessibility of a Grievance Policy is a campus and Graduate School priority, and we believe also important to school/college dean’s offices and individual programs. The Guide is the formal document of record for our university. For graduate programs, the Policies tab in Guide is the location for the most important/required policies for students. For this reason, the Policies tab will become the home for the program's Grievance Policy. 

Current practice is that graduate programs are expected to have a graduate program handbook, and this handbook was linked to in Guide if it was available. Moving forward, the Graduate School still strongly encourages programs to develop graduate program handbooks, but the content of the handbook should not duplicate anything that is also in Guide. Moreover, the handbook should serve as a "wiki" for the program, with helpful information elaborated in greater detail than what is possible in Guide, but not serving as the primary source for the program's curriculum and policies. Because of this change, the grievance policy should subsequently only exist in the Policies tab in Guide for every program.

What is the difference between the grievance policy at the program level and the GAPP grievance procedures?

The department-school/college academic grievance process should be used to resolve academic issues or disputes. Examples of matters suitable for this process may include a qualifying exam failure, author dispute, or concerns regarding advising/mentoring, to name a few.

Graduate Assistants in TA, PA and/or RA appointments may utilize the GAPP grievance process to resolve employment-related issues. Examples of matters appropriate for the GAPP grievance process include allegations of violation of GAPP, including allegations excessive work hours, violations of sick days or vacation policies, or disputes regarding the assignment of duties. 

If you have questions about which procedure would be suitable for your concern, you are encouraged to reach out to your college, school or division human resources representative.


The Graduate School has issued a call soliciting existing program-level grievance policies, due February 29, 2020. Grievance policies must meet minimum guidelines (see below) and should be emailed to

In March of 2020, the Policies tab on all graduate program pages will be reformatted to include the Grievance Policy as well as to remove the link to the graduate program handbook. The graduate program handbook link will be added to the Contact Information box in the Guide. This serves three purposes: 

  1. Makes the Graduate Program Handbook more visible to students.
  2. Makes the link the Graduate Program Handbook more easily editable; contact information is allowed to be edited any time of year and does not follow governed or non-governed content deadlines. Currently several links to handbooks are broken in the Guide, and because the links exist in governed content, they are only editable via a Lumen Programs Proposal, making it more arduous to correct the broken link. 
  3. Ensures the focus in Guide is on required policies, which now includes a Grievance Policy.

The Grievance Policy is being added to all graduate program pages in Guide administratively this cycle. Similar to the addition of the Admissions Table last year, that means some pages may need to be rolled back to the GFEC Approver step prior to being sent back to the Registrar to make them publication-ready. Additionally, if a program is working on governed content changes that are effective for a term later than Fall 2020, we will have to work closely to ensure the policy can be added. The policy will be added to any new program that has an effective term of Fall 2020 and earlier; any proposals in progress for approval for a term after Fall 2020 will be required to include a Grievance Policy moving forward. 

If you have any questions about this process, please do not hesitate to be in touch with Graduate School Academic Planning Specialist Emily Reynolds

Definition of grievance: a written complaint identifying an alleged violation of a specific policy 
Definition of appeal: a request to higher authority that a grievance decision be reversed; we expect but do not require that many grievance policies submitted to us will cover both grievance and appeals processes. 
  • Describe the grievance policy and process at the program level. The policy should not only point students to the Graduate School's grievance and appeals policy.
  • Be clear and easy for students to understand
  • Be consistent with program or department’s internal governance or administrative structure
  • Describe, as a first step, that if the student feels comfortable/safe doing so, efforts should be made to resolve complaints informally between individuals, before pursuing a formal grievance
  • Outline the sequential steps for pursuing a formal grievance, including time limits for each stage in the process, to whom the grievance should be submitted, the person/group that reviews the grievance, what needs to be included in written grievance materials, etc.
  • List specific staff or faculty to whom students can go with questions about program policy and grievance procedures
  • Note that central policies and resources (e.g. policy on Hostile and Intimidating Behavior, Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures) as well as reference to the Graduate School’s appeal policy will be included in new Graduate School Shared Content on the Policies tab; you do not need to duplicate this information in the text, though you may choose to refer to these resources within the text of the program policy.

We recognize this is a quick timeline for programs and do not expect a comprehensive, thoughtful grievance policy to be developed from scratch in one month. The roll-out of this new requirement for Guide will have two phases: the first phase being the collection of existing policies, and the second phase taking place the 2020-2021 academic year to help programs and their school/college dean's offices develop a robust program-level grievance policy.

Thus, if a graduate program does not currently have a grievance policy developed, we will automatically list the Department Chair as the contact person for students in the program in the upcoming edition of Guide publishing June 1, 2020. After this, over summer and fall 2020, the Graduate School will have workshops, meetings with dean’s offices, create collaboratively-built templates, and create minimum requirements for these policies that all school/college dean’s offices agree make sense. This process will start this spring and continue through late fall, with proposals adding the new or revised grievance policy then needing to be entered in time for publication in the Fall 2021 Guide. Additionally, the Graduate School will partner closely with school/college dean's offices to ensure everyone is on the same page about these expectations and that effort is not duplicated. 

Then, all graduate programs are required to submit a Lumen Program Proposal to add their new grievance policy no later than the publication of the Fall 2021 Guide, currently due to publish on June 1, 2021. 

The School of Education developed a school-wide grievance policy that explains the policy and process at the program-level as well as the school/college level. Because of this, programs in the School of Education do not need to submit a separate grievance policy. We will by default be using the School of Education's policy in Guide.


This question is fairly in the weeds, for people who edit Guide regularly: We are taking this opportunity to also reformat Policies tabs so that the policies are behind toggle headers and are no longer indented. You will see no content changes to the policies aside from the addition of a grievance policy.

If you have any questions, please contact Graduate School Academic Planning Specialist Emily Reynolds.

Keywords:grievance, policy, guide, lumen, 2020, 2021   Doc ID:97188
Owner:Jenna A.Group:Graduate School
Created:2020-01-16 17:30 CSTUpdated:2022-11-01 11:44 CST
Sites:Graduate School
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