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Conflict Resolution and Student Appeals


Occasionally interactions between students, staff and faculty result in misunderstandings, disputes and/or differences of opinion.  In the majority of instances these differences can be resolved as a result of an informal discussion between the persons involved.  UCSD encourages students to promptly pursue informal action first.  In instances where informal resolution is unsuccessful, students have various formal avenues for complaint resolution.  Graduate students are encouraged to contact the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Affairs in the Graduate Division for information and assistance with the resolution of conflicts.

Important Points:

  • Attempt to resolve the matter informally at first. Most disputes are the result of poor communication.
  • Attempt to resolve the matter immediately.
  • Try to be rational and objective. Do not allow emotions to interfere with finding a resolution.
  • Know your desired outcome. Be objective in this assessment.
  • Keep complete and accurate notes of the situation and the steps you have taken to find a resolution. Develop a file for these documents.
  • Avoid being aggressive or accusatory. This only hinders the process.
  • Know the appropriate policies. Consult the departmental handbook, UCSD General Catalog, or campus policies.

Academic Appeals

Department and program faculty have primary responsibility for maintaining the excellence of graduate programs, and they are in the best position to judge their students' academic performance.  A student may appeal a final exam result or course grade only if he or she believes that non-academic criteria not directly reflective of academic performance in the course were used in determining the result.  As detailed more completely in the "Grade Appeal" section in the UCSD General Catalog and Academic Senate Regulation 502, a student appeal of an academic performance decision should first be made to the individual faculty member or teaching assistant who made the decision and should be made within one month of the decision or within the first month of the following regular academic quarter.  If this does not result in a resolution that is satisfactory to the student, he or she may appeal to the department or program chair. 

Within twelve months of action by UCSD with which the student disagrees, such as denial of a right to withdraw, dropping or adding a class, or other decisions related to the student's transcript, a student may petition the Dean of Graduate Studies for review.  Petitions pertaining to matters that occurred in excess of twelve months in the past shall be presented directly to the Committee on Educational Policy of the UCSD Academic Senate, available at the Academic Senate Office noted above.

A student's appeal of a grade or his or her challenge of any other academic action based on an alleged failure to provide an OSD approved accommodation for a documented disability in accordance with the UCSD Academic Senate's Policy on Students With Disabilities and Steps for Academic Accommodation must be lodged in accordance with Student Grievance procedures as outlined in the next section. 

Non-Academic Appeals and Grievances

A student may appeal an action or inaction of his or her department, program, individual faculty member, or UCSD administrator. Examples include those actions taken on grounds not relating to a student's academic performance that affects a student's educational status, program of study, financial support, or access to services. Generally, non-academic decisions may only be challenged if due process was not followed in arriving at the decision or the decision was motivated by personal prejudice.

A non-academic appeal may be submitted to the department or program chair, individual faculty member, or administrator within one month of the date of learning of the action or the date that the student should have reasonably known of the action.

If an appeal to an individual faculty member or administrator is not resolved to the student's satisfaction, he or she may then submit a written appeal to the department or program chair, who shall attempt to adjudicate the case with the faculty member or administrator and the student within two weeks.

If the appeal is not resolved to the student's satisfaction, he or she may then attempt to resolve the matter through written appeal to the dean of Graduate Studies, who will attempt to adjudicate the case within two weeks. The dean may take the appeal to the Graduate Council for review, which may extend the time required to reach a final resolution.

The student's request for the dean's review should include a written statement describing the nature of the grievance, along with copies of any and all documents in his or her possession supporting the grievance. Students are encouraged to contact the assistant dean for Student Affairs in the Office of Graduate Studies for assistance with the appeal process.

Employment Appeals

A student holding an academic appointment, such as a Graduate Student Researcher, may appeal an action relating to his or her employment in accordance with appeal rights described in Academic Personnel Manual Policy 140, which is available online. An appeal by a teaching assistant, reader, or tutor is covered by the ASE/UAW contract. These appeal procedures may be viewed online on the ASE/UAW contract. UC Personnel Policy Manual, which is available online,  covers appeals by graduate students holding non-academic appointments on campus.

Other Appeals

Grievances concerning violations of student rights are covered by the Student Conduct Code grievance procedures. Examples of violations of students' rights include those affecting rights to privacy or protection from discrimination. These grievances are handled by the Office of Student Policies and Judicial Affairs, (858) 534-6225,studentconduct@ucsd.edu.

As with other appeals, a complaint should be made promptly to the decision-maker, if known to the student. If an appeal to an individual faculty member or administrator is not resolved to the student's satisfaction, he or she may submit a written appeal to the appropriate committee, governmental body, unit manager, supervisor or designated representative for review and disposition. Such appeal must be made not later than one hundred (100) calendar days from the date of the incident causing the grievance. If the appeal at this level is not resolved to the student's satisfaction, the appeal may be continued as described in the Student Conduct Code procedures referenced to above.

Appeal and other rights for students accused of violating UCSD policies and procedures are outlined in the UCSD Student Conduct Code.