Grievance Procedure for Academic Matters

Grievance Procedure for 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 the Student Manual of University Policies and Regulations:

The Division of the Humanities 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. If questions or grievances about an academic matter arise that need to be addressed the following procedures are recommended. 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. 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 with a question about a grade received in a course should consult with the instructor first. All other questions may be brought to the student's academic advisor, the director of graduate studies or the director of master's studies, the departmental coordinator, or the dean of students. If the student is not certain whom to approach, consultation with one of these individuals may help in determining who would be the most appropriate person to answer their question. Whoever ultimately responds to the student's concern will base their response on either metrics laid out in the syllabus or policies and practices established by the department, division, university or the government.

Students should realize that faculty members have the authority to assess the academic performance of their students. Under normal circumstances, only the instructor who gave the course, examination or evaluation has the authority to change the assessment of the students' performance. Similarly, the evaluation of students' academic progress and standing in the program is the prerogative of the departmental faculty.

Based on the conversation with the academic official addressing the student's question, the student may have a grievance: "a real or imagined wrong or other cause for complaint or protest, especially unfair treatment" (definition of grievance from the Oxford English Dictionary).

Grievance resolution process

Students with a grievance may bring it to the attention of their academic advisor, the director of graduate studies, the director of master's studies, the chair, or the program director. In case of a grievance related to academic assessment brought by a student about an instructor for a course grade or the departmental 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 (or designee) 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 Dean of Students (or designee). 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 Dean of Students. 

To submit a written grievance complaint, please click here

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

Other Complaints

Complaints about sexual harassment or discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law are addressed under the University's unlawful discrimination and harassment policy.

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. Please see University Disciplinary Systems for more information.

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Office of the Dean of Students