Academic Issues

Although students may seek an informal Level 1 review of a disputed academic action (e.g., evaluation or decision) at any time for any assignment, they may seek a formal Level 2 review only when the decision impacts a final grade (including credit/no credit and pass/fail) or standing in an academic program. However, this does not include refusal to admit a student into an academic program, sanctions for academic misconduct, or violation of student professional or ethical conduct standards of restricted enrollment programs.  

SUMMARY OF PETITION PROCESS

Level 1: Informal Level

  1. After being informed of an unfavorable decision, student talks to the decision-maker within no later than the last day of the following semester and complies any other Level 1 requirements .
  2. Decision-maker provides student with rationale for decision.

Level 1 Contacts

level 2

Level 2: Formal Level

  1. Student completes Petition Form within 10 working days of a written decision or 20 working days of a non-written decision.
  2. Student Code Review Committee reviews petition allowing parties an opportunity to respond to the evidence.
  3. Student Code Review Committee makes a decision and sends notice to parties.
level 3

Level 3: Due Process Level

  1. Either party requests Due Process review within 5 working days.
  2. Due Process Officer reviews based on established criteria.
  3. Due Process Officer makes final decision.

 

DETAILED ACADEMIC ISSUES PETITION PROCESS AND STANDARDS

Jurisdiction: Academic decisions that impact a final grade (including credit/no credit and pass/fail) or standing in an academic program, including grade disputes, course sanctions, and program completion decisions. However, this does not include refusal to admit a student into an academic program, sanctions for academic misconduct, or violation of student professional or ethical conduct standards of restricted enrollment programs.

Goal: The goal of the hearing process is to provide for the prompt and fair resolution of all grievances as they occur, so that constructive, educational, and developmental relationships can be maintained at Weber State University. Procedures which foster dialogue and promote resolution between the immediate parties involved in a dispute are encouraged.  Whenever possible, grievances should be resolved at the lowest level (i.e., individual, supervisor, faculty member, department chairperson, program director, and/or dean).

Standard of Review: A decisions regarding a general academic issue will be reviewed to determine whether it was arbitrary or capricious.  In deciding whether the decision was arbitrary and capricious, deference is given to the faculty member (or other appropriate decision-maker) unless the decision is not supported by substantial evidence or exceeds the bounds of reasonableness and rationality.  A decision is supported by substantial evidence if a reasonable mind could reach the same conclusion as did the faculty member (or other appropriate decision maker) based on the evidence available to the faculty member (or other appropriate decision-maker).  The decision should also be consistent with other similar decisions. 

Level 1: Informal Level: A student attempts to resolve the issue by a direct appeal to the relevant decision-maker. 

  1. A student who believes an academic action was arbitrary or capricious should, upon notification of the academic action, discuss the academic action with the faculty member (or other appropriate decision-maker) and attempt to resolve the disagreement.  It is often easier to resolve an issue before the final day of class and students are strongly encouraged to do so, where possible.
  2. Academic areas should provide students with information regarding further steps a student must take for informal redress of concerns beyond the faculty member, including time limitations.
  3. Academic programs may require/permit students to have their issue reviewed at more than one level in the informal process.
  4. It should be made clear to the student what is the informal level decision and what the student’s options are to petition the decision at the formal level, including time limitations for bringing the issue to the formal level, if desired.
  5. Informal resolution of academic actions must be completed no later than the last day of the semester following the semester in which the decision is made

Level 1 Contacts

Level 2: Formal Level: A student attempts to resolve the issue by submitting a formal petition that is reviewed and (if necessary) evaluated by a committee. 

Complete Petition Form

Decision Maker: Academic petitions shall be reviewed by the Student Code Review Committee (“Committee”), which Committee shall comprise of 5 individuals who can engage in independent judgment.  At least one of these individuals must be a student and at least one must be a faculty member from the college in which the issue arose.  The Due Process Officer will appoint one member of the Committee to be the Chair.  Parties may submit timely objections to the Due Process Officer if there is good cause to believe the Committee members will not engage in independent judgment, who may appoint alternate members of the Committee.

Time Limits: Although students may seek an informal Level 1 review of a disputed academic action (e.g., evaluation or decision) at any time for any assignment, they may seek a formal Level 2 review only after the recording of a final grade (including credit/no credit and pass/fail) or decision on the students’ official academic transcript.  All formal level academic petitions must be sent to the Due Process Officer within 10 working days of a final written level 1 decision at the informal level or within 20 working days of the the student's notification to the decision-maker of the disputed action if the decision-maker does not give a written decision to the student by that time. 

Process:

  1. If the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of the parties at the informal level, the aggrieved party (“Petitioner”) may submit a petition for review to the Due Process Officer.  The Due Process Officer shall promptly send the complaint to the Chair of the Committee. 
  2. The petition must be in writing and state the facts, conduct, or circumstances alleged to constitute academic action that is arbitrary or capricious, and remedy sought.  The student must provide all information or evidence desired to be reviewed by the Committee.  This can include statements from witnesses. 
  3. The Chair may determine not to move the petition for further review by the Committee on the determination by the Chair that the petition is untimely, frivolous, is based on issues that are beyond the jurisdictional boundaries established by University policy, or contains no actionable facts. Such decision must be in writing and is subject to review by the Due Process Officer, as described in Level 3, below.  The Chair may also recommend that the issue be reviewed further for resolution at an informal level.
  4. If the petition is accepted for review, the person against whom the Petitioner is petitioning (“Respondent”) should be given an opportunity to review the petition and respond with any information or evidence desired, including statements from witnesses.
  5. Both parties shall be given an opportunity to respond to any evidence produced by either party.  This may be a paper review, or if desired by either party or the Committee, an in-person review may held, so long as an in-person review of the level outlined in these formal guidelines was not already held at the informal level.
  6. At the sole discretion of the Chair, the parties may be required to attend a pre-hearing conference to delineate issues, discuss how the hearing will be conducted, exchange evidence, lists of witnesses and summaries of the nature of witness testimony, or address any other procedural concern.  The Chair may determine to handle such issues via email or other method of communication.  A mediated solution may be attempted at the pre-hearing conference, if desired by the parties.
  7. Both the Petitioner and the Respondent may be present at an in-person hearing.  Either of the parties may be accompanied by an advisor of their choice, who may attend, but may not participate in the hearing, except at the discretion of the Chair. An in-person review may be governed by rules and standards of decorum structured by the Review Committee, so long as both parties are allowed adequate opportunity to be heard.
  8. If either party fails to attend the in-person review without good cause, the Committee may proceed without the party.
  9. In-person reviews are closed to the public.
  10. The Committee may determine the relevance of any evidence received, and may limit evidence, including scope, nature, duration, when in the discretion of the Review Committee it is deemed inappropriate, repetitious, disruptive, unreliable, or otherwise of little use. The Utah rules of evidence or procedure and any other formal rules of legal evidence or procedure do not apply.
  11. The Petitioner shall bear the responsibility of showing that an administrative decision was arbitrary or capricious (see standard of review above).
  12. Where held, it is not required that a formal, written, verbatim record of the proceedings be kept, but a written summary of the significant assertions and findings of the in-person review shall be prepared. Record of Committee deliberations need not be kept.
  13. The Committee will make a decision based on majority vote.
  14. After reviewing all evidence deemed relevant, the Committee will issue a written decision, including findings, grounds for the decision, sanctions or remedies, as appropriate, and any additional recommendations.

The Committee is empowered to structure a resolution, which in its discretion satisfies the interests of justice.  Such a resolution may not unduly burden a Respondent where the Respondent has not been found to have acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner.  Any such resolution must respect the Academic Freedom Considerations outlined in the Student Code, PPM 6-22, Section IX.E:

"Remedy of Students: Academic Freedom Considerations 

No hearing committee may interfere with a faculty member's academic freedom to manage the learning process and grading evaluations within a particular course. Hearing committees may take one or more of the following actions:

1. Encourage the faculty member to alter a course sanction and/or to submit a change of grade.

2. Expunge relevant elements (courses etc.) of the student’s academic record.

3. Authorize a student to retake a particular course(s) or designated equivalent at no additional charge.

4. Authorize the refund of tuition and/or full/partial student fees for a particular course(s).

5. Waive relevant course(s) as requirements or prerequisites in the individual’s academic program."

Level 3: Due Process Level: The decision of the Committee may be appealed based on certain grounds. 

  1. Either party may ask for a review of the decision or resolution by the Due Process Officer by submitting notice and reasons in writing to the Due Process Officer within five working days of notice of the decision.
  2. Except as may be required to clarify the issues and/or to explain the significance of new information, a review shall be limited to review of the evidence provided to the Committee and any record kept, for one or more of the following purposes:
    1. To determine whether the petition review was conducted fairly in light of the charge and information presented, and in conformity with prescribed procedures;
    2. To determine whether the decision reached was based on substantial information; that is, whether the findings in the case were sufficient to establish that the academic decision was arbitrary or capricious;
    3. To consider new information not submitted to the Committee because such information and/or facts were not known to the party at the time of the review.
  3. Any of the above grounds must be shown to have had a prejudicial impact on the decision.
  4. The Due Process Officer may take the following actions:
    1. Affirm the decision of the Committee;
    2. Direct the Committee to review the petition again for a particular purpose;
    3. Remand the case for a new review.
  5. The decision shall be in writing and delivered to the parties and the Committee in a timely manner.
  6. The decision of the Due Process Officer is final.