University Senate                                                                                  Proposed: April 1, 2005








WHEREAS                  it is the duty of the deans of the Columbia faculties, subject to the reserve powers of the President and the Provost, to administer discipline in their schools; and
WHEREAS                  current student grievance procedures were reaffirmed in the December 17th, 2004 joint report by the Faculty Affairs and Student Affairs committees: a student with a complaint about a faculty member may approach the professor directly; a student who feels the grievance cannot be settled directly, may, at any point, seek the advice or mediation of
the Department or Program Chair(s), the Dean, the University Ombuds Officer, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, and may use any other procedures established in his or her school now or in the future; and

WHEREAS                  current procedures have been found to be wanting in some instances; and

WHEREAS                  “It shall be the duty of the University Senate… to consider any question that may arise as to the conduct or efficiency of any officer of administration or instruction, and to report thereon…” (§22c);

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED                   that in grievances concerning faculty conduct in their role as teachers, and in such grievances only, a student who has exhausted the procedures listed above may choose to appeal through the University Senate to the Provost and the University President, except in cases that are already covered by Federal Regulations;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED                        that a student who chooses this procedure will submit to the Senate Executive Committee a written statement with any supporting documents;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED                        that the Executive Committee, if it decides by a two-thirds majority to consider the case, will appoint, with due attention to impartiality, an ad hoc grievance committee, consisting of three faculty, two students, and the Provost Ex Officio, who may choose not to participate in the committee's deliberations;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED                        that the ad hoc grievance subcommittee will determine by majority vote its recommendations, which it may choose to report to the University Senate, and will forward its findings through the Provost to the President, who will make the final decision.

Faculty Affairs Committee
Student Affairs Committee

                                                April 1, 2005








Columbia University is an academic community committed to fostering intellectual inquiry in a climate of academic freedom and integrity. Its members are expected to uphold these principles and exhibit tolerance and respect for others. Thus, the University condemns all forms of misconduct and works strenuously to assure that its students are accorded tolerance, dignity and respect. The following appeals procedures are prescribed for incidents involving an alleged grave misconduct by a member of the faculty, an instructor, a teaching or research assistant, or any other educational officer of the university, inflicted upon a student which may not be dealt with by the Dean’s intervention. Any student who believes that he or she is a victim of misconduct has recourse to the mediation and grievance procedures developed by the University. Students are encouraged to discuss problems, questions, and grievances with anyone in a supervisory position, such as an advisor, director of studies, department chair or appropriate dean or university administrator. They may also, at any time, discuss them with the Ombuds officer, a neutral complaint-handler who seeks fair and equitable solutions to problems. Students should consider filing a grievance if resolution through informal means is not possible.


1. The School’s Procedure - Informal and Formal Resolution

Grievances may be brought against individuals subject to the authority of the Dean including administrators, officers of instruction, a department or program. If possible, the student should discuss the matter with the responsible individual. If no resolution results, the student should consult his or her advisor, director of studies, chair, the Ombuds officer or appropriate dean or administrator. Every effort should be made to resolve the matter at an informal level without escalating the complaint to the status of a formal grievance. Discussions aimed at informal resolution must remain confidential and generally last for no more than 30 working days. The school may establish other grievances procedures which should be followed before attempting an appeal.


2. Scope

Grounds for grievances include but are not limited to cases of academic or personal misconduct such as:


1. Violation of University rules and regulations or misapplication of University policy.

2. Violation of section 1 of the Statement on Professional Ethics as stated in Appendix E of the Faculty Handbook. <>

3. Other abuse of authority, which impact on the student’s academic environment.


The University has established alternative policies and procedures for the following types of misconduct:


1. Discrimination and sexual harassment may be dealt with through the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, the Ombuds Office, the dean of the school of the accused if the accused is a student or the Department of Security if the situation may involve criminal activity. See FACETS. <>


2. Sexual misconduct by a student may be dealt with through the Office on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education. See FACETS. <>


3. Professional misconduct or fraud in research on the part of a faculty member should be brought to the attention of the dean of the school according to the procedure outlined in Appendix E Section IIIA. of The Faculty Handbook. <>


Please note:

1. Formal grievances filed against administrators, officers of instruction, departments and programs, must be reported to the dean of the school in question.

2. Academic assessment of students resides with the departmental faculty. Thus, in cases of grievances relating to academic evaluation brought by a student against a faculty member, department, or program, the grievance procedure is limited to assuring that the assessment was made impartially and according to procedures applicable to all students.


3. Mediation

Any student who has not reached an informal resolution and prefers to avoid escalating the complaint to the status of a formal grievance may request a mediation session. Mediation is an informal and confidential process where the grievant and the accused can participate in a search for a fair and workable solution. Mediation requires the consent of both parties and suspends the grievance procedure for up to thirty working days, which can be extended at the discretion of the Dean of the school upon the consent of both parties. Complaints that are addressed through mediation need not be made in writing. The parties may agree to a variety of solutions. A written document, which will remain confidential to both parties, may be produced to memorialize the agreement.


4. The Appeals Procedures

If no informal resolution occurs, and if the procedures within the appropriate school have been exhausted, the student should compose a written statement documenting the misconduct causing the complaint, its adverse consequences, and the informal and formal efforts at resolution made to date. This statement should also include a description of the remedy sought. The student should include any documentation supporting the grievance. The grievance should be submitted to the Chair of the University Senate Executive Committee in a timely fashion, that is, usually within 30 working days of the end of the semester in which the misconduct occurred, or within 30 working days of the most recent resolution attempt.


Initial Review of the Grievance

Before convening the Grievance Committee, the Chair of the Senate Executive Committee will first refer the complaint to the Senate Executive Committee at its earliest convening. The Senate Executive Committee will review the written statement and by two-thirds majority vote either (1) refer the complaint to the Grievance Committee or (2) with the agreement of the grievant refer the complaint to the appropriate department or office if the Executive Committee believes that the case has not received thorough study and discussion or there is already enough precedent to resolve the complaint. In the latter case, one or more of the members of the Senate Executive Committee may assist in the resolution of the complaint. In general, the Senate Executive Committee will inform the grievant of its decision in writing within 30 working days of convening.


Proceedings of the Grievance Committee

If the Senate Executive Committee refers the complaint to the Grievance Committee, the Provost convenes a proceeding of the committee to review the written statement. Such a proceeding may involve one or more meetings, depending on how long it takes to collect, present and evaluate the evidence needed to review the grievance. The Committee consists of (a) three faculty, and (b) two students chosen by the Senate Executive Committee. The Provost may attend as a non-voting Ex Officio member. The Senate Executive Committee shall take care to ensure that members of the Grievance Committee do not have personal ties to either side of the grievance.



5. Mandate of the committee

The merits of the grievance are evaluated within the context of University policy, a decision is reached by a majority vote. The Committee responds to the complaining student, to the accused faculty and, through the Provost, to the President with a written recommendation in a timely fashion, that is, no later than the end of the semester following that in which the grievance was filed. The Committee may report its findings to the University Senate. If the grievant is not satisfied with this finding, he or she may communicate in writing to the Provost and President within thirty working days of the decision. The subsequent decision of the Provost and President is final.