Student Concerns and Grievance

Procedures to Resolve PSD Graduate Student Concerns about Academic Matters

“The University of Chicago is a community of scholars dedicated to research, academic excellence, and the pursuit and cultivation of learning. Every member of the University - student, faculty, and staff - makes a commitment to strive for personal and academic integrity; to treat others with dignity and respect; to honor the rights and property of others; to take responsibility for individual and group behavior; and to act as a responsible citizen in a free academic community and in the larger society.”

From Student Manual of University Policies and Regulations

PSD Student Concerns and Grievance Resolution

The Physical Sciences Division aspires to be a community in which the commitments of a free academic community are upheld and in which students and faculty cultivate excellent relations. From time to time questions or complaints about an academic matter may arise that need to be resolved. Academic matters include but are not limited to such matters as course grades, teaching assignments, publication rights, timely feedback on academic work, timeliness of letters of recommendation, and application of policies and practices.

Questions about Academic Matters

Students should bring concerns about an academic matter forward in a timely manner, and the concern should be responded to as expeditiously as is feasible. Questions may be addressed to a course instructor, the student's academic advisor, the director of graduate studies or director of master's studies, or the chair or director of the student's graduate program. If the student is not certain whom to approach, consultation with one of these individuals, or the student affairs staff for the student's graduate program or the PSD Dean of Students office, may help in determining who would be the most appropriate person to answer the question. Whoever ultimately responds to the student's concern will base their response on either metrics laid out in course syllabi, or on policies and practices established by the graduate program, Division, or University.

Note that in some cases a student's questions may be resolvable through informal conversation without additional steps being necessary. In other cases, following from this initial conversation, the student may determine that they have a grievance: a real or perceived wrong or other cause for complaint or protest, especially unfair treatment.

Grievance Resolution Process

Students with a grievance may bring it to the attention of an appropriate faculty member, who may be the academic advisor, the director of graduate studies or director of master's studies, or the chair or director of the student's graduate program. In case of a grievance related to academic assessment brought by a student about an instructor for a course grade or the department faculty for academic progress, the resolution process addresses whether the assessment was made impartially, solely based on academic performance and conducted using standard procedures. For grievances related to other academic matters, the resolution process addresses whether the established policies and practices were appropriately applied.

The academic official to whom the student brought the grievance will meet with the student to discuss and resolve the grievance. This official may consult as appropriate with other faculty and/or the Dean of Students to resolve the matter. The official will discuss the outcome of the review in a meeting with the student and follow up in writing. Should the matter remain unresolved, the student may bring the grievance to the attention of the PSD Dean of Students. The student should submit the grievance, the written response to the grievance, and an articulation of why the matter is still unresolved in writing to the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students will review the written materials, may ask the student for clarification, may consult with the official who initially responded to the grievance and/or the chair or program director and the academic dean, and will make a final determination. The Dean of Students will discuss the outcome of the review in person with the student and follow up in writing.

Students with questions about the procedures may contact the PSD Dean of Students Office.

Students may also avail themselves of the Office of the Student Ombudsperson to resolve a concern.

Other Complaints

Complaints about sexual harassment and misconduct and unlawful discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law are addressed under the University's Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct.

Complaints about student conduct involving possible violation of University policies and regulations and other breaches of standards of behavior expected of University students should be brought promptly to the attention of the Dean of Students of the academic area of the accused student. For more information, please see University Disciplinary Systems or contact the PSD Dean of Students for guidance.