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Grievance Procedures

Our expectation is that you will have the best possible relationship with colleagues and faculty during the course of your graduate work at Brown. It is possible, however, that difficulties will arise. Should you have a grievance, it is important to know how it can best be handled. It is University policy that each and every graduate student is entitled to a fair and prompt hearing of grievances. It is also policy that all other avenues of resolution are to be exhausted before a formal grievance procedure can begin. According to Section 10 of the official Faculty Rules and Regulations, the student must attempt to resolve the issue directly with the person or persons involved.

In the event that the attempt is unsuccessful, the next step is to take the issue either to the departmental Director of Graduate Study (DGS), or to the Chair. It is the responsibility of the Chair or DGS to have an informal discussion with all involved parties, to the end of achieving resolution via mediation. It is also the Chair or DGS's obligation to prepare a memorandum outlining the problem, steps taken, and the proposed solution; copies of this memorandum are given to all concerned parties.

If this step does not result in a mutually satisfactory outcome, the next step is to ask the DGS or Chair to determine whether or not the question at issue is departmental in nature. If it is, a written request for a review with the Chair of the department should be filed. If it is not determined to be a departmental issue, no further action can be taken at the departmental level. Instead, the issue must be taken to the Dean of the Graduate School, where the aggrieved can seek advice and direction in the matter. If there is disagreement with the determination of whether the issues are departmental in nature, an appeal concerning that decision may be made to the Dean of the Graduate School, whose decision is final.

If the issue at hand is indeed departmental in nature, a written appeal must be filed with the Chair of the department. This appeal must ask for a review of the question and must specify the injury alleged, the reasons for the student's belief that he or she is aggrieved, and the remedy sought. The Chair may either refer the appeal to a committee of review or to the departmental Faculty. For more on the difference between these two bodies and the procedures regarding disputes please refer to the Faculty Rules.

As expeditiously as possible the committee of review will hear the student, consider the evidence, confer with other persons concerned, and prepare a comprehensive report of findings and a response to the appeal. Committee decisions are made by a simple majority vote of the members. It is the Chair's duty to carry out the directions of the committee. Once a decision has been made, a memorandum of what was done is prepared and a copy is given to the student.