Grievance Procedures

From Handbook for Student Academic Appointees

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An SAA is entitled to appeal actions or conditions affecting his/her role, including such matters as dismissal, academic freedom, reappointment, and the nature and conditions of work. Issues regarding discrimination should be referred to the Office of Affirmative Action. In appeals of research misconduct, however, the SAA should consult with the Bloomington Campus Research Integrity Officer, in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. Further information and procedures related to research misconduct are available at: https://www.indiana.edu/~vpfaa/academicguide/index.php/Policy_I-13.

Student academic appointees are encouraged to seek redress of grievances at the departmental and/or unit level. Beginning at that level, and progressing to higher administrative levels only when redress is not obtained, facilitates the appeal process and increases the likelihood of a satisfactory outcome. If a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached at the department or unit level, the appeal may be taken to the Student Academic Appointee Mediation Committee of the Faculty Council, and, ultimately, to the Student Academic Appointee Board of Review.

Departments and Academic Units

See complete policy at: https://www.indiana.edu/~vpfaa/academicguide/index.php/Policy_D-28.

All departments and academic units involved in supervising SAAs should establish and maintain internal procedures for reviewing graduate student grievances and complaints related to the terms and conditions of their academic appointments.

These procedures should: (1) ensure a timely response to SAA complaints, (2) clearly establish an appeal structure for disputes that cannot be resolved through mutual agreement among the SAA and his/her immediate supervisor, (3) be provided, in written form, to all SAAs at the time of their appointment, (4) also be provided to all supervising faculty and administrators, as well as to any unit administrators with responsibilities for reviewing and adjudicating SAA grievances, at the time when they begin their supervisory duties or assume their office, (5) aim to protect confidentiality and the rights of all involved, with particular sensitivity to the complexities of graduate student instructors' dual status as teachers and students and the potential for the pursuit of teaching related grievances to have negative ramifications on other aspects of the SAA's education and professional life, (6) ensure that once an SAA initiates a complaint, he or she is notified in a timely manner whenever information regarding that complaint is placed in his/her personnel file, and (7) inform the SAA of avenues of appeal beyond the departmental or unit level, pursuant to Bloomington Faculty Council policy establishing the SAA Mediation committee and the SAA Board of Review.

SAA Mediation Committee of the Faculty Council

If a grievance cannot be resolved at the departmental or unit level, the SAA may bring the grievance to the SAA Mediation Committee. SAA Mediation Committee information is available at: https://www.indiana.edu/~vpfaa/academicguide/index.php/Policy_D-29.

The SAA Mediation Committee is drawn from the membership of the BFC Student Academic Appointees Affairs Committee. The Mediation Committee shall be composed of no fewer than five members, including no fewer than two graduate student members. In cases involving dismissal or academic freedom, the SAA Mediation Committee will meet as a full body; in cases involving the nature or conditions of work and reappointment, the Committee may meet in subcommittees or panels of no fewer than two members (at least one of whom must be a graduate student). Although membership of the SAA Mediation Committee varies from year to year, it is expected that the same roster of Committee members shall complete the investigation and mediation of any case they have begun to consider. If a member of the SAA Mediation Committee is involved in a case before the Committee, or is a member of a department (or a school which is not departmentalized) from which a case arises, he or she shall be disqualified to hear or to investigate the case. A member of the SAA Mediation Committee shall also disqualify himself or herself from hearing or investigating a case whenever the member believes it difficult to render an impartial judgment. No member of the SAA Board of Review can serve concurrently on the SAA Mediation Committee.

The SAA shall initially notify the Chair of the BFC Student Academic Appointees Affairs Committee in writing of her/his intention to bring the grievance before the Committee.

Members of the SAA Mediation Committee shall address each grievance impartially, investigate it thoroughly, and base their findings on sound knowledge of University policies and procedures. The Committee should strive to resolve grievances through flexible procedures and encourage discussions between the parties to the grievance. The meetings of the Committee shall be informal with no stenographic record kept.

Where appropriate, SAAs may opt to seek mediation through other organizations, such as the Affirmative Action Office, the Office for Women's Affairs, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Anti-Harassment Team, the Racial Incidents Team, the Gender Incidents Team, the Religious Bias Incidents Team, or the Student Advocates Office. SAAs pursuing such alternatives may not concurrently bring a case before the Committee; however, pursuing these alternatives does not preclude the SAA from subsequently bringing the grievance to the SAA Mediation Committee.

If mediation of the grievance fails, the SAA Mediation Committee reports its findings in writing to the grievant and to all parties named in the grievance. On request from the grievant, the committee informally may give its opinion of the merit of the grievance and whether it should be taken to the SAA Board of Review. This opinion shall not constitute evidence before the Board. On request, the Committee shall assist the grievant in drafting a statement of the grievance and may assist the grievant in other ways in preparing a case for presentation to the Board. However, the Committee may not represent the grievant before the Board.

SAA Board of Review

See complete policy at: https://www.indiana.edu/~vpfaa/academicguide/index.php/Policy_D-24.

If resolution of the grievance cannot be reached at the departmental or unit level, or through the SAA Mediation Committee, the SAA may bring the grievance before the SAA Board of Review. The BFC annually elects three faculty members to the SAA Board of Review. No more than two members of the Board may be elected from a single academic division of the University. At least one member should have previously served on the Faculty Board of Review. Each year, the Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) supplies a list of graduate students for potential membership on the SAA Board of Review. The BFC members select three members from this list to also serve on the Board.

An SAA seeking further review shall notify the Chair of the SAA Board of Review in writing of her/his request for review by the Board. His/her written statement should clearly specify the nature of the complaint, the person(s) grieved against, the remedy sought, and the reasons why the remedy is appropriate. The written statement of complaint should be submitted within two months of the incident or series of incidents that gave rise to it. This time limit may be waived at the discretion of the Board. If the case falls within the Board's area of jurisdiction, a formal, private, hearing shall be scheduled no sooner than ten days and no longer than thirty days after the respondent has received notice of the complaint.

Prior to the hearing, the Chair of the SAA Board of Review shall send a copy of the grievance to all parties grieved against. These persons shall submit a response to the Board within ten days of the receipt of the grievance. The Chair will distribute copies of the grievance, the response, and any supporting documentation filed by either party to all Board members.

Both parties will submit a list of witnesses, if any, to the SAA Board of Review. The Board will notify these witnesses of the date, time, and place of the hearing. Additional materials may be submitted to the Chair at the hearing for distribution to all involved. The Board also may request testimony or written statements from witnesses not called by either party. In the hearing before the Board, both parties shall have the right of counsel, or a representative of his/her choice. Both parties to the dispute, or their representatives, may question witnesses presented by the other party. Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the SAA Board of Review shall make its written recommendation to the Provost within ten days. All parties will receive copies of the recommendation at that time.

The Board will maintain a record of all papers filed and will arrange for the tape recording of the hearing. Upon conclusion of the hearing, these records shall be kept on file for a period of five years in the BFC Office.

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