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Policies on Student Issues

Policies on student issues (grievance, course exemption, course challenge)

Approved by Faculty on October 28, 1980
Updated September 9, 1999


Procedures for Dealing with Unresolved Student Grievances
Procedures for Dealing with Course Exemption
Procedures for Dealing with Course Challenge

    1. The student shall meet with the Department Head to discuss the grievance and the procedures for dealing with the grievance. If the disagreement is not resolved in the discussion, then the student may request the Department Head to appoint a Committee to deal with the grievance.
    2. The Committee shall consist of three faculty members and shall not include any faculty member involved in the disagreement. The Head can make himself/herself an ex-officio member of the committee if he or she so chooses.
    3. Day 0 In order to minimize misunderstandings, the student must submit to the Head a written document which sets forth his or her argument.
    4. Day 2 The Department Head will prepare for the Committee a written document stating his or her understanding of the grievance. He will submit his document and the student's document within 48 hours2 of his receipt of the student's document.
    5. The Head will immediately give copies of the documents written by the student and the Head to the faculty member involved in the grievance.
    6. Day 5 Within three days of receipt of the written document discussed in sections No. 3 and No. 4, the faculty member involved in the grievance must submit to the Committee a written response to the student's allegations.
    7. The Committee will immediately give a copy of the faculty member's written response to the student involved in the grievance.
    8. Day 9 Within seven days of receipt of the student's written complaint the Committee will meet to hear the grievance.
    9. The student will meet first with the Committee to present his or her arguments verbally.
    10. The faculty member will then meet with the Committee to present his or her response to the student allegation.
    11. Day 12 Within three days after the meeting, either the student or the faculty member may submit further written statements to the Committee. If any such statements are received, the Committee will see to it that all parties to the dispute have copies of the said statements and are given the opportunity to reply in writing to the said statements.
    12. The Committee may choose to have further discussions with the student or faculty member during the one week period following the first meeting of the Committee. The discussions should-be limited to issues raised in the Committee's first meeting. New issues must be treated as separate grievances in procedures beginning with step one of this document.
    13. Day 16 The Committee will deliberate the issues and report its conclusions to the Head within two weeks of its first meeting. Part of its report shall consist of all written documents submitted to it during the course of its deliberations.
    14. The Head will communicate the findings of the Committee to the student and to the faculty member involved in the dispute.
    15. If the Department Head is, himself, a principal in the disagreement, then a full professor appointed by the Assistant to the Head will function in place of the Head in all of the above steps.
    16. If after all of the above steps have been taken, the student remains unsatisfied, then he or she can take the question to his or her Dean.
    17. If at any time during the process described in this document, the student is dissatisfied with the Department's conduct of the investigation, then he or she can take the question to his or her Dean. In such a case the grievance procedures in the Department will be terminated.
    18. If after all of the above steps have been taken, the faculty member is dissatisfied, then he or she can take the question to his or her Head or Dean.
  2. The Department of Physics and Astronomy construes a student grievance to be an unresolved disagreement between the student and his or her teacher concerning grades, attendance, or the student's treatment in an individual course1. The grievance procedures described here are designed to respond to specific instances of such alleged mistreatment. Before initiating the grievance procedures described below, the student should be sure that he or she has discussed the problem in question with his or her faculty instructor or teaching assistant. only after such discussion has failed to resolve the disagreement should the grievance machinery be set in motion. The procedures to be followed by the Department and a student in responding to a grievance are as follows:

    This document does not in any way abridge the rights of the faculty member to appeal the decision of the Committee.

    1In a process entirely separate from the grivance procedures, each student will be given the opportunity to evaluate in writing his or her course instructor, laboratory instructor, textbook, and overall experience in the course. These written evaluations are collected at the end of each semester and kept on file in the departmental office for five years.

    2Weekends, regularly scheduled vacations, and officially approved leave time are not included in the calculations of time intervals set forth in this document.

    1. Undergraduate
      1. University policy: The official policy is described in the University Bulletin. Exemptions are managed through the Advanced Placement Program administered by the Office of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, not the Department.
      2. Procedures: The University grants exemption and credit on the basis of the College Board Advanced Placement scores in physics. Only PHYS 1111,1112,1211,1212 can be exempted.
      3. Departmental role: The Department's Undergraduate Curriculum Committee approves and sends to the Vice President for Academic Affairs' office the rules to be followed for exempting undergraduate physics courses. The Departmental Undergraduate Advisor serves as the liaison person with the Vice-President for Academic Affairs on this matter.
      4. The present exemption policies are shown at
    2. Graduate
      1. Exemption policies are available at the Graduate Handbook ( of the department.

    1. Undergraduate
      1. University policy: The official policy on challenges is described in the University Bulletin. The main points are:
        1. "The University allows a student the opportunity to receive resident credit for courses by examination without his having attended the regular classes."
        2. Standards of eligibility are set by the various schools and colleges.
        3. In the Franklin College the specific requirements are set by the Departments.
        4. Since residence credit is awarded, the University may charge a fee. The student should make the necessary arrangements for the payment of the fee (if any) with the Registrar.
        5. General rules.
          1. The student must demonstrate independent study to master the relevant material.
          2. The student must not be enrolled in the course to be challenged.
          3. The student must not have previously completed the course.
          4. The student must complete a Course Challenge Form and file the same with the Registrar.
          5. The student is to receive a letter grade (A, B, C, D, F) for the challenged course.
      2. Department policy
        1. Non-laboratory courses
          1. The student must take the next regularly scheduled final examination in the course in question except in courses wherein the final exam is not cumulative. In such a case a special examination will be prepared by a course instructor selected by the Head.
          2. An examination grade will be assigned by the instructor administering the examination.
          3. The student shall have one and only one opportunity to challenge a course and take the examination.
          4. The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee shall meet and consider the student's challenge. The Committee will examine the evidence presented by the student, and evaluate the student's performance in meeting the criteria described above.
          5. The Committee shall assign a course grade. The Head and the Chairman of the Committee are required to sign the official Course Challenge Form which is then sent to the Registrar.
        2. Laboratory courses
          1. The student must take the next regularly scheduled final examination in the course in question except in courses wherein the final exam is not cumulative. In such a case a special examination will be prepared by a course instructor selected by the Head.
          2. In extraordinary circumstances, the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee may exempt the student from the examination requirement described in the previous paragraph (IB2bi). The examination exemption will be given only if the student can document, to the Committee's satisfaction, that he or she has excelled in a similar, nearly equivalent course at another college or university.
          3. The student must document that he or she has had equivalent laboratory experience at another college, university, or scientific laboratory.
          4. Alternatively to paragraph IB2b(iii), the student must attend all of the regularly scheduled laboratory meetings of the laboratory section to which he or she is assigned of the course he or she is challenging. He or she must complete all of the regularly required laboratory work connected with the course.
      3. Student procedures: The student should execute the following steps in the order given below.
        1. The student writes a letter containing any supporting evidence to the Department Head stating his or her challenge. The Head passes the challenge on to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.
        2. The Committee meets to decide whether to permit a challenge on the basis of the information before it.
        3. If the challenge is permitted, the student should obtain an Official Course Challenge Form and obtain the signature of his or her advisor.
        4. The student follows the instructions of the Committee in order to satisfy the challenge requirements discussed in earlier paragraphs. This is to include examinations and laboratory work (if any).
        5. After the requirements are met by the student, the Committee will assign a grade.
        6. The Department Head will complete the Official Challenge Form and submit it to the Registrar.
    2. Graduate
      1. Challenges are not permitted.