Policy Number: 221 Effective Date: 06/23/86
Policy Title: Grade Appeal Procedure Revised: 10/30/03; 05/01/06; 07/01/10
Approval Date: 23 June 1986 President’s Signature: on file

I. GENERAL STATEMENT

A student who wishes to appeal or question a final grade in a course must first contact the faculty member who assigned the grade within the first 15 class days of the semester following the semester for which the grade was issued. The student must arrange one or more informal conferences with the professor to attempt to resolve the conflict before a formal appeal is initiated. The grade appeal must be based on a faculty member’s alleged capriciousness, prejudice, or arbitrariness. The professional competence of the faculty member will not be an issue.

II. INITIATION OF A FORMAL GRADE APPEAL

A. The Informal Conference and Criteria of Appeal

1. Only a final course grade may be appealed.
2. The student must attempt to arrange for an informal conference following the semester for which the grade was issued. If the grade was issued during a summer term, the conference must be within the first 10 class days of the fall semester.
3. If a student has not been successful in arranging an informal conference with the faculty member, he/she may request that the Department Chair arrange a time for the meeting between the student and faculty member. The Chair or advocates are not to be present at the informal conference.
4. A formal grade appeal can be initiated only after the informal conference has failed to resolve the issue.
5. Voluntary termination of the appeal by the student is possible at any time. Termination of the appeal by the student must be in writing to the Department Chair, appropriate Dean, and the Provost.
6. If the Department Chairperson is the faculty member who issued the grade, the appropriate Dean will assume the role and responsibilities of the Chairperson in the grade appeal process.

B. Initiation of the Formal Appeal and Level I Conference

1. The formal appeal is initiated by the student by a written letter to the Department Chairperson requesting a Level I conference. The letter must be received within ten class days after the informal conference.
2. The written request must state the action being challenged, including a statement of the facts and evidence made with sufficient clarity to reasonably support the challenge.
3. The student and faculty may each have an advocate at the Level I conference. The advocate must be a WLU student, faculty member, or staff member who may confer with but may not speak for the client.
4. The Chairperson shall schedule and conduct the meeting within ten class days following receipt of the written request. The Chair will maintain an accurate record of the proceedings and will have the option of tape recording the conference. Upon request, the student must be provided with a copy of the recordings.
5. Within five class days following the Level I conference, the Department Chairperson will provide the student with a copy of his/her recommendation.

C. Level II Grade Appeal Committee Hearing

1. Within five class days following the date of the Chairperson’s recommendation, the student will indicate to the Chair in writing if he/she accepts the recommendation or wishes to initiate a Level II hearing.
2. If the student wishes to institute a Level II hearing, the Department Chair must notify the appropriate Dean to convene the Grade Appeal Committee, to be composed of three full-time faculty members and two students, none of whom may be from the College/Provost or Department involved. The appropriate Dean will chair the committee as an ex-officio member of the committee.
3. The Grade Appeal Committee will review the Level I recommendation and all records of the appeal in executive session to determine the validity of the appeal.
4. If by majority vote of the Grade Appeal Committee the validity of the appeal is rejected because the appeal does not establish reasonable doubt about the fairness of the grade, then no further action will occur. The parties will be notified of the decision, and the faculty member’s grade shall be final.
5. If the Committee does decide the grade may have been based on capriciousness, arbitrariness, or prejudice, the Committee will hold a full hearing to resolve the issue.
6. After hearing and evaluating all evidence, the Grade Appeal Committee will inform the Provost by majority decision (1) rejection of the appeal or (2) upholding the appeal and the grade to be assigned.
7. If the appeal is upheld, the faculty member will be given the opportunity to change the grade. If he/she declines to do so, then the Provost will direct the Registrar to change the grade.
8. In the event that the Registrar is instructed to change the grade, the Provost will be the instructor of record.
9. The decision of the Grade Appeal Committee is final.

III. GRADE APPEAL HEARING PROCEDURE

1. One advocate for each party may be present and may consult with the client, but may not address the Grade Appeal Committee.
2. All statements, arguments, and testimony given will be tape recorded. These tapes are to be available to both parties and to members of the Committee during the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, they will be filed in the Provost office (and retained for at least three years), though they will continue to be available only to the parties of the dispute and, at the discretion of the Provost, to the involved Grade Appeal Committee.
3. The Committee will have the right to convene an executive session at any time, but no testimony will be heard in executive session.
4. The Committee chair will be responsible for ruling on all motions made before it.
5. Rulings on motions of the parties will be prompt and take into consideration the effect such a decision would have on the right of both parties to a fair and impartial hearing.
6. The hearing will begin as soon as possible after the Grade Appeal Committee receives the student appeal, unless by mutual consent the student and faculty member agree to a later starting date, or the Grade Appeal Committee decides the case merits no hearing.
7. All witnesses will be placed under verbal and written oath.
8. The student will begin the hearing by reading his/her appeal.
9. Both parties will be given an opportunity to make opening statements.
10. The burden of proof lies with the student.
11. The first presentation of evidence is made by the student.
12. Evidence may include, but not be limited to, testimony, affidavits, depositions, and other relevant documents.
13. The Committee may request any individual to give testimony.
14. Witnesses and parties may be cross-examined.
15. When the student has called all witnesses and presented all testimony and evidence desired, he/she will rest; the same procedure will be followed in allowing the other party to present all testimony and evidence desired.
16. Once all parties have rested, each party, beginning with the student, will be given an opportunity to make a closing argument.
17. Each closing argument will be presented without interruption, except for Committee members who may interrupt for purposes of (1) inquiry or (2) questioning the relevance of the testimony.
18. After closing arguments, the Committee will deliberate and attempt to arrive at a decision as rapidly as is reasonably possible. The decision will be based on “Clear and Convincing Evidence.”
19. Each decision will promptly be put in writing, giving:
a. Conclusions on all allegations in dispute,
b. An explanation of the reasoning examined in arriving at the decision.
20. All Committee members in the appeal process are to respect the confidentiality of the appeal process by refraining from any discussion of the appeal with non-participants.