Jul 03, 2022  
2021-2022 Student Handbook 
    
2021-2022 Student Handbook

F. Policy/Procedures for Student Complaints, Petitions for Policy Waivers/Variances and Appeals



I. Purpose and Applicability

Georgia State University seeks to maintain the highest standards of integrity and fairness in its relationships with students. The Undergraduate Catalog and the Graduate Catalog (both found at http://www.gsu.edu/es/catalogs_courses.html), and the Student Code of Conduct set forth policies and requirements for Georgia State students. Students are expected to know and comply with these policies. Students may, however, seek relief or resolution when they believe that:

  1. The application of these policies and procedures will create undue hardship for them or will not recognize their extraordinary or extenuating circumstances; or
  2. Specific actions, practices, or decisions on academic or non-academic matters have been made or carried out in an arbitrary, discriminatory, or inequitable manner. The procedures set forth below cover complaints, petitions, and appeals related to university-wide and college-based policies. Individual colleges or departments may have additional or more specific procedures that may also apply to complaints, petitions, and appeals. Students are referred to the office of the dean of the particular college for information about additional or more specific procedures that apply. In case of conflict among policies, this university policy takes precedence over College and Departmental policies. The following policies include their own complaint, petition and waiver procedures. This policy may not be used in lieu of these policies:
    1. Any policy for anyone other than a student to make a complaint, file a grievance, or request a waiver, such as policies that govern faculty and staff;
    2. All policies in the Student Code of Conduct;
    3. Emergency Withdrawal Policy;
    4. Admission, readmission, and exclusion policies
    5. Discriminatory and sexual harassment policies;
    6. Disability policies;
    7. College of Law Honor Code; or
    8. Student parking policy.

The procedures set forth below are applicable to undergraduate and graduate students of the university. All appeals under these procedures will be made based only on the written record. A student’s appeal under these procedures will be granted only if the student can prove by preponderance of evidence that a decision was arbitrary, discriminatory, or inequitable.

II. Student Complaints on Academic Matters

  1. College-Level Academic Complaints
    1. Final Course Grade Appeals
      1. Students are encouraged to discuss concerns and disputes over final course grades with the instructor prior to filing a formal grade appeal, in an effort to gain understanding about the basis of his/her grade. Instructors are encouraged to be available to students for such discussion regarding grades so that grade disputes, to the extent possible, are resolved informally. The office of the Ombudsperson can provide assistance to students, instructors and administrators with resolving disputes informally through voluntary facilitated discussions, in an effort to bring resolution to the matter prior to the initiation of a formal complaint.
      2. In situations where such informal resolution does not occur or is not successful, the student may appeal the final course grade to the Department Chair. The appeal must be in writing and describe the precise reason for the appeal. Any pertinent information must be submitted with the appeal in order to be considered in this or subsequent appeals. The appeal must be submitted within 10 business days of the beginning of the academic term (fall, spring, summer) that follows the term in which the final grade was submitted by the instructor. For example, if a student took an incomplete in a fall term course and completed the course works in the following spring semester, then an appeal of that grade must be submitted within 10 business days of the beginning of the summer term. The Department Chair will provide a decision in writing to the student, normally within 10 business days of the receipt of the complaint in the Department.
      3. The student may appeal the decision of the Department Chair, as described in section 2-c through 2-e below.
    2. Other College-Level Academic Complaints
      1. Judgments on the suitability of academic decisions made within a college are most appropriately made by individuals with expertise in the particular academic discipline involved. For this reason, resolution of student complaints about college level academic decisions, actions, or practices is the responsibility of the department and college involved. Normally, such complaints can be resolved quickly and informally through discussion with the faculty member directly involved. The office of the Ombudsperson can provide assistance to students, instructors and administrators with resolving disputes informally through voluntary facilitated discussions, in an effort to bring resolution to the matter prior to the initiation of a formal complaint.
      2. In situations where such informal resolution does not occur or is not successful, the student may submit a formal complaint to the Chair of the appropriate academic department. The student’s complaint must be submitted in writing and be accompanied by pertinent documentation describing (a) the specific action, practice, or decision that is problematic; (b) the impact of that decision; (c) what resolution is being sought; (d) and why it should be granted. To promote prompt resolution, complaints must include current contact information and be submitted at the earliest possible time. Consideration will not be given to any complaint submitted later than the end of the term immediately following the term in which the matter in question arose. The Department Chair will provide a decision in writing to the student, normally within 10 business days of the receipt of the complaint in the Department.
      3. The student may appeal the Department Chair’s decision within 10 business days of being notified of the Chair’s decision. Such appeal will be made, in writing, to the Dean of the College in which the Department is located. At the discretion of the Dean, an advisory panel may be appointed to review the written documentation and make a recommendation to the Dean. The Dean will issue a decision to the student in writing, normally within 10 business days of the receipt of the appeal.
      4. A student may appeal the Dean’s decision to the Provost, in writing, within 10 business days of being notified of the Dean’s decision. The Provost will issue a decision to the student, in writing within 20 business days of receiving the appeal.
      5. The student may appeal the Provost’s decision to the President, in writing, within 10 business days of being notified of the Provost’s decision. The President will issue a decision to the student in writing within 20 business days of receiving the appeal.
      6. The student may appeal the President’s decision to the Board of Regents, in writing, within 20 calendar days of being notified of the President’s decision. Decisions regarding grades may not be appealed to the Board of Regents (BOR Policy 407.01).
  2. University-Level Academic Complaints
    1. Judgments on the suitability of academic decisions made at the university level are most appropriately made by individuals with expertise in the particular area. Normally, such complaints can be resolved quickly through discussion with the Academic Administrator directly involved. (See the University Organizational Chart at https://www.gsu.edu/administration/) Students can contact the office of the Ombudsperson for assistance in preparing for discussion with academic administrators. The office of the Ombudsperson can also provide assistance to students and academic administrators with resolving disputes informally through voluntary, facilitated discussions, in an effort to bring resolution to the matter prior to the initiation of a formal complaint.
    2. In situations where such informal resolution does not occur or is not successful, the student may submit a formal complaint to the Vice Provost. The student’s complaint must be submitted in writing and be accompanied by pertinent documentation describing (a) the specific action, practice, or decision that is problematic; (b) the impact of that decision; (c) what resolution is being sought; and (d) why it should be granted. To promote prompt resolution, complaints must include current contact information and be submitted as early as possible, but no later than the end of the term immediately following the term in which the matter arose. The Vice Provost will normally issue a decision to the student in writing, within 10 business days of receiving the complaint.
    3. The student may appeal the Vice Provost’s decision to the Provost within 10 business days of being notified of the decision. The Provost will respond in writing to the appeal within 20 business days of receiving the appeal.
    4. The student may appeal the Provost’s decision to the President in writing within 10 business days of being notified of the Provost’s decision. The President will respond in writing to the appeal within 20 business days of receiving the appeal.
    5. The student may appeal the President’s decision to the Board of Regents in writing within 20 calendar days of being notified of the President’s decision. Decisions regarding residency and the Guaranteed Tuition Plan may not be appealed to the Board of Regents (BOR Policy 407.01).

III. Non-Academic Complaints

  1. Judgments on the suitability of non-academic decisions are most appropriately made by individuals with expertise in the particular area. Normally, such complaints can be resolved quickly through discussion with the Administrator in charge of the department making the decision. (https://www.gsu.edu/administration/). Students can contact the office of the Ombudsperson for assistance in preparing for discussion with non-academic administrators. The office of the Ombudsperson can also provide assistance to students and non-academic administrators with resolving disputes informally through voluntary, facilitated discussions, in an effort to bring resolution to the matter prior to the initiation of a formal complaint.
  2. In situations where such informal resolution does not occur or is not successful, the student may submit a formal complaint to the Vice President or Vice Provost who oversees the area. The student’s complaint must be submitted in writing and be accompanied by pertinent documentation describing (a) the specific action, practice, or decision that is problematic; (b) the impact of that decision; (c) what resolution is being sought; and (d) why it should be granted. To promote prompt resolution, complaints must include current contact information and be submitted as early as possible, but no later than the end of the term immediately following the term in which the matter arose. The Vice President or Vice Provost will provide a decision to the student in writing, normally within 10 business days of the receipt of the complaint.
  3. The student may appeal the Vice President’s or Vice Provost’s decision to the Provost in writing within 10 business days of being notified of the decision. The Provost will respond in writing to the appeal within 20 business days of receiving the appeal.
  4. The student may appeal the Provost’s decision to the President in writing within 10 business days of being notified of the Provost’s decision. The President will respond in writing to the appeal within 20 business days of receiving the appeal.
  5. The student may appeal the President’s decision to the Board of Regents in writing within 20 calendar days of being notified of the President’s decision. Decisions regarding traffic citations may not be appealed to the Board of Regents (BOR Policy 407.01).

IV. Student Petitions for Academic Policy Waiver or Variance

  1. College-Level Policy Waiver or Variance Petitions
    1. Students may petition for a waiver or variance of a department-level or college- level policy. The appropriate college office of Academic Assistance can provide the student with college policies and petition procedures.
    2. The student must submit a petition, in writing, to the office of Academic Assistance of the College which has made the policy in question. The petition must include the following: (a) the policy from which the student is seeking a waiver or variance, (b) the deviation being sought; and (c) the reason(s) why the exception should be granted. The office of Academic Assistance representative will determine whether the petition needs to be addressed at the departmental or college level and will forward the petition to the appropriate administrator who will notify the student of his or her decision.
    3. The student may appeal the decision, in writing, following the procedures stated in Section II.A.2.c through f above, the College-Level Academic Complaint Policy and Procedures. If the original decision was rendered by a Department Chair, the appeal should be initiated at the level of the Dean; if the original decision was rendered by the Dean (or his or her designate), the appeal should be initiated at the level of the Provost.
  2. University-Level Policy Waiver or Variance Petitions
    1. Students may request a waiver or variance of a policy established by the university or the Board of Regents.
    2. All requests for waivers or variances from university-level policies will be made based only on the written record.
    3. The petition must include the following: (a) The section number from the Catalog (or other official university document) of the policy or requirement from which the student is requesting a waiver; (b) the deviation being sought; (c) the reason(s) why the exception should be granted; (d) a current copy of the student’s academic evaluation record; and (e) a current copy of the student’s Georgia State University transcripts (unless the petitioner is not a yet a Georgia State student); and (f) transcripts from any other college the student has attended (if the petitioner has attended other colleges).
    4. Financial Appeals
      1. Appeals of tuition and fee rules (currently in sections 1210.10, 1210.20 and 1210.30 of the Catalog), Georgia resident status rules (currently in section 1220), and financial aid rules (currently in section 1230) will be made by the university Registrar.
      2. If the petition is denied, the student may appeal to the Financial Appeals Committee, a committee appointed by the Vice Provost. The student must appeal in writing and within 10 business days of being notified of the decision of the university Registrar.
      3. Appeals of the financial rules of colleges and departments (e.g., lab fees, graduate assistantship rules, etc.) are considered by the college or department. See Section IV.A. above.
    5. Add, Drop and Withdrawal Appeals (Appeals of Rules Currently in Section 1332 of the Catalog)
      1. Appeals of add, drop and withdrawal rules will be made in the first instance by the university Registrar.
      2. If the petition is denied, the student may appeal to the Registration Appeals Committee, a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Admissions and Standards. The student must appeal in writing and within 10 business days of being notified of the decision of the University Registrar.
      3. The Registrar will copy of the Chair of the Registration Appeals Committee on all letters to students notifying them of the results of their petitions. Every semester, the Registrar will distribute to the Senate Committee on Admissions and Standards a report that indicates (at a minimum) the number of petitions filed, the number granted, and the number denied. Any member of Admissions and Standards may review the documents of any petition when there is a legitimate educational interest.
      4. This policy does not change the Emergency Withdrawal policy.
    6. Course Load, Scholastic Discipline, Course Substitution in the Core, and Regents Test Appeals (Appeals of Rules Currently in Section 1330.30, 1360, 1410, and 1420 of the Catalog)
      1. Appeals of rules regarding course load, scholastic discipline, course substitution in the core and Regents Test will be made in the first instance by the head of the university Advisement Center. However, appeals for waivers of Section 1330.30 (Course Load) will be considered by the student’s college if the student has declared a college and will follow the procedure outlined in Section IV.A above.
      2. If the petition is denied by the head of the university Advisement Center, the student may appeal to the Academic Regulations Appeals Committee, a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Admissions and Standards. The student must appeal in writing and within 10 business days of being notified of the decision of the Director of the university Advisement Center.
      3. The head of the university Advisement Center will copy of the Chair of the Academic Regulations Appeals Committee on all letters to students notifying them of the results of their petitions. Every semester, the head of the university Advisement Center will distribute to the Senate Committee on Admissions and Standards a report that indicates (at a minimum) the number of petitions filed, the number granted, and the number denied. Any member of Admissions and Standards may review the documents of any petition when there is a legitimate educational interest.
    7. Academic Regulation and Graduation Requirement Appeals (Appeals of Rules Currently in other parts of Sections 1300 and 1400 of the Catalog)
      1. Appeals of other university-level rules and graduation requirements will be made in the first instance by the Assistant Vice President for Student Retention. However, appeals for waivers of Section 1330.30 (Course Load) will be considered by the student’s college if the student has declared a college and will follow the procedure outlined in Section IV.A above.
      2. If the petition is denied, the student may appeal to the Academic Regulations Appeals Committee, a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Admissions and Standards. The student must appeal in writing and within 10 business days of being notified of the decision of the Assistant Vice President for Student Retention.
      3. The Assistant Vice President for Student Retention will copy of the Chair of the Academic Regulations Appeals Committee on all letters to students notifying them of the results of their petitions. Every semester, the Assistant Vice President for Student Retention will distribute to the Senate Committee on Admissions and Standards a report that indicates (at a minimum) the number of petitions filed, the number granted, and the number denied. Any member of Admissions and Standards may review the documents of any petition when there is a legitimate educational interest.
    8. Subsequent Appeals
      1. The student may appeal the decisions of the Admissions Appeals Committee, Financial Aid Appeals Committee, the Registration Appeals Committee and Academic Regulations Appeals Committee to the Vice Provost in writing within 10 business days of being notified of the decision. The Vice Provost will respond in writing to the appeal within 20 business days of receiving the appeal.
      2. The student may appeal the Vice Provost’s decision to the Provost in writing within 10 business days of being notified of the decision. The Provost will respond in writing to the appeal within 20 business days of receiving the appeal.
      3. The student may appeal the Provost’s decision to the President in writing within 10 business days of being notified of the Provost’s decision. The President will respond in writing to the appeal within 20 business days of receiving the appeal.
      4. The student may appeal the President’s decision to the Board of Regents in writing within 20 calendar days of being notified of the President’s decision.
    9. Should a reorganization of offices lead to case where the position of University Registrar or one of the heads/directors noted above no longer exists, the Vice Provost and Chair of the Senate Committee on Admissions and Standards will jointly designate an individual to handle petitions until the Senate can revise this policy to reflect the new organization.

V. Deadlines

  1. All deadlines established in this Policy are stated in terms of business days. If a deadline falls on a weekend or scheduled holiday, the deadline will be the next scheduled workday of Georgia State University.
  2. Students lose their right to continue to the next step of the procedures if they miss a stated or agreed-upon deadline.

VI. Mediation

Students who have filed formal complaints or petitions or those who have had formal complaints filed against them under Sections II A or B of this Policy (except for grade appeals) may request that the matter be submitted to mediation in an effort to achieve resolution. Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process whereby a neutral person facilitates discussion between the parties in a mutual attempt to reach resolution on the issues raised by the parties. In the event mediation is agreed upon by both parties, the timelines under this policy shall be suspended until which time the mediation is completed. In the event that mediation results in agreement, the student’s complaint will be considered resolved. In the event that mediation does not result in resolution of the matter, the student may appeal to the next level of review under this policy. Information derived from mediation discussion may not be used as the basis for higher levels of appeal, nor can the mediator be asked to provide information or make any decision at any level of the formal appeals process. Persons interested in mediation should contact the office of the Ombudsperson.

Revised - University Senate - December 11, 2008
Revised - University Senate Executive Committee - February 25, 2009
Revised - University Senate - October 27, 2011
Revised - University Senate - October 10, 2013