5.1   Judicial Structure

Hearing boards shall establish their own procedures in a manner consistent with this document. A copy of procedures adopted by each unit shall be filed with the Office of the Ombudsperson and with the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.

5.1.1 To promote effective functioning of the system of graduate student rights and responsibilities, an appropriate judicial structure and process shall be established for hearing and adjudicating all cases brought by and against graduate students in the following areas:

(a) Academic rights and responsibilities

(b) Professional rights and duties of graduate assistants not covered by the Graduate Employees Union collective bargaining contract

(c) Professional rights and duties of other Graduate Students

5.1.2   Department/School/Program Hearing Boards. For adjudication to be conducted at the department/school level the parties shall attempt first to resolve the problem in informal, direct discussions. If the problem remains unresolved, adjudication may be handled formally through a department/school hearing board. The hearing board shall be composed of equal numbers of faculty and graduate students selected by their respective groups in accordance with the department/school/program hearing procedures. If the unit administrator is involved in the case, the unit administrator may not serve on the hearing board.

5.1.3   College Graduate Hearing Board. Each college shall establish a judiciary composed of the chair of the college graduate committee or designee and equal numbers of faculty and graduate students selected by their respective groups in accordance with college hearing procedures. Each college shall provide training to its hearing board members.

5.1.4   University Graduate Judiciary. A judiciary shall be established at the University level composed of the Dean of the Graduate School or designee, who shall serve as chairperson, three elected faculty members of the University Committee on Graduate Studies, and three graduate students chosen by the all-university graduate student governing body.

5.1.5 Each hearing board or judiciary shall be chaired by a faculty member. Each board or judiciary shall provide a suitable number of alternate members chose in accordance with the procedures established above.

5.1.6 Term of Office. Hearing board or judiciary members at all levels shall be selected during spring semester for the upcoming summer semester and shall serve one year. The one-year term shall not preclude reappointment of any member the following year. Hearing boards and judiciaries shall establish provisions for filling vacancies, including making appointments on an interim basis during summer semester.

5.1.7 Members of a hearing board or judiciary involved or possessing other conflicts of interest in a case at issue shall be disqualified from sitting on the hearing board or judiciary for that specific case.

(a) An approved alternate member from the appropriate faculty or student group will replace such person(s) in accordance with established guidelines.

(b) Either the complainant or respondent may submit to the chair of the hearing board or judiciary a challenge of board or judiciary members in instances of alleged conflicts of interest. Such challenges will be decided by the chair in a timely manner. The decision will be reported to both parties in writing three (3) class days after rendering a decision.

(c) Either party may remove a total of two board members, excluding the chair, without stated cause. The name(s) of the individual(s) must be transmitted to the chair no later than three (3) class days after receiving notification of the board’s or judiciary’s membership.

5.2   Jurisdiction of Alleged Violations (other than grievances).

5.2.1 Except as specified in this document (particularly in Section 5.1), alleged violations of student group regulations, general student regulations, or all-University policies as they apply to all students (undergraduate, graduate, graduate-professional) will be referred to the appropriate judiciary as outlined in the Michigan State University Student Rights and Responsibilities.

5.3   Redress of Grievances

5.3.1 With respect to allegations of violation(s) by or against a graduate student in the areas cited in 5.1.1, where possible, a student grievant or faculty complainant is encouraged to seek resolution and redress informally with the appropriate individual(s).

5.3.2 If problems arise in the relationship between instructor and student, the parties shall attempt first to resolve them in informal, direct discussions. If the problem remains unresolved, then the student shall consult with the unit administrator. If still aggrieved, a student may then submit a formal, written grievance for consideration by an appropriate hearing board. The formal grievance alleging violations of academic rights must include a proposed remedy, which could be implemented by a responsible administrator. The grievant or respondent may consult with the University Ombudsperson at any stage of the process.

5.3.3 The University undertakes, within the limits of its resources and the limits imposed by due respect for the professional rights of the faculty, to supply an appropriate remedy for legitimate student grievances that have judicial merit. (See Section 5.4.6.) The limits of the University’s resources proceed from factors that, while subject to its influence, are not always subject to its control.

5.3.4 To overcome the presumption of good faith in course instructors’ and graduate committees’ judgments of performance, grievances concerning academic evaluations must produce facts that provide clear and convincing evidence that demonstrates that an evaluation was based entirely or in part upon factors that are inappropriate or irrelevant to academic performance and applicable professional standards. (See 2.2 as well as 2.3.11 and 2.4.8.)

5.3.5 Any member of the academic community of Michigan State University may initiate a grievance involving the rights and responsibilities of graduate students. Grievances alleging violation of the academic rights of an undergraduate student by a graduate student shall be heard by the unit level judiciaries outlined in the Michigan State University Student Rights and Responsibilities.

5.3.6 In submitting a formal grievance to an appropriate hearing board (see Section 5.3.6.2) alleging violation(s) by or against a graduate student in the areas cited in 5.1, a grievant must submit a written, signed statement that specifies with sufficient particularity to justify proceedings the point(s) forming the basis of the grievance, the person(s) and/or unit(s) against whom/which the grievance is filed, and the redress that is sought.

5.3.6.1 Grievances must normally be initiated no later than mid-term of the semester following the one wherein the alleged violation occurred (exclusive of summer semester). If the involved instructor or student is absent from the University during that semester, or if other appropriate reasons exist, an exception to this provision may be granted by the appropriate hearing board. If, before the formal grievance procedures are completed, the involved instructor is no longer employed by the University, the grievance process may nevertheless proceed.

5.3.6.2 Student grievances alleging violation of academic and professional rights must be initiated at the lowest administrative level feasible; normally, the department/school/program. With the approval of the college dean, departments/schools/program may waive jurisdiction and refer grievances to the college hearing board. A college dean may request a change of jurisdiction if the dean has concerns about a fair hearing.

5.4   Judicial Procedures

5.4.1 Departments/schools/programs and colleges shall review their hearing board procedures every five (5) years.

5.4.2 Procedures for the adjudication of grievances must proceed in a timely manner as defined below.

5.4.3 Upon receipt of a request for a formal grievance, the unit chair/director shall forward a copy of the grievance request to the chair of the hearing board who in turn shall transmit a copy of the grievance request within five (5) class days to the hearing board members and to the respondent.

5.4.4 In urgent cases in which it is alleged that a regulation, or an administrative decision or action threatens immediate and irreparable damage to any of the parties involved, the hearing board or judiciary shall expedite the hearing and final disposition of the case.

5.4.5 A hearing board or judiciary is empowered to act on a request to direct an individual or unit to discontinue or postpone an administrative decision or action that threatens immediate and irreparable damage to any of the parties involved pending final disposition of the case. The hearing board or judiciary shall expedite the hearing and final disposition of this urgent case.

5.4.6 A department/school/program or college hearing board shall review each hearing request for jurisdiction and judicial merit and may then forward a copy of the request to the appropriate individual(s) and invite a written response. After considering all submitted information, the board may:

a. Accept the request, in full or in part, and proceed to schedule a hearing.

b. Reject the request and provide an appropriate explanation.

c. Invite all parties to meet with the board for an informal discussion of the issues. Such a discussion shall not preclude a later hearing.

5.4.7 Notice of Hearing. At least five (5) class days prior to a formal hearing, both the respondent and the grievant shall be sent a written notification of hearing from the appropriate hearing body. This notice of hearing shall state:

a. The nature of the issues, charges, and/or conflicts to be heard with sufficient particularity to enable both the respondent and the grievant to prepare their respective cases.

b. The time and place of the hearing.

c. The body adjudicating the case and the names of the members that make up the body, including the names of all alternate members.

d. The names of the respondent and grievant.

5.4.7.1 At least three (3) class days before the hearing, the parties shall provide the chair of the hearing board with the names of their witnesses (if any) and advisor (if any). The chair of the hearing board shall forward this information to both parties to the hearing.

5.4.8 Either the grievant or the respondent may request, with cause, a postponement prior to the scheduled time of a hearing. The hearing board may grant or deny such a request.

5.4.9 Both the respondent and the complainant shall be expected to appear at the hearing and present their cases to the hearing board.

a. Should the grievant fail to appear, the hearing board may either postpone the hearing or dismiss the case.

b. Should the respondent fail to appear, the hearing board may either postpone the hearing or, only in unusual circumstances, hear the case in his or her absence.

c. The hearing board may accept written statements from a party to the hearing in lieu of a personal appearance, but only in unusual circumstances. Such written statements must be submitted to the judiciary at least three (3) days prior to the scheduled hearing.

5.4.10 Hearing boards shall ensure that a collegial atmosphere prevails in grievance hearings. Either party shall have the right to be accompanied by an advisor (see definition in Article 8).  Permission will be granted to the respondent to be accompanied by an attorney if there are criminal charges pending.

5.4.10.1 The advisor may be present throughout the hearing but has no voice in the hearing unless the chair of the hearing board grants the advisor permission to participate.

5.4.10.2 During the hearing, parties to a grievance shall have an opportunity to state their cases, present evidence, designate witnesses, ask questions, and present a rebuttal.

5.4.10.3 Witnesses must be members of the University community, unless the hearing board determines that they have direct knowledge of the alleged behavior in question. Witnesses may be present in the hearing only when testifying.  Witnesses may submit written statements to the hearing board in lieu of attending only with the written permission of the chair of the hearing board. Expert or character witnesses are generally not allowed. The hearing board may limit the number of witnesses.

5.4.10.4 Hearings are closed unless the student requests an open hearing. An open hearing is open to any member of the University community. The hearing board may close an open hearing to maintain order or protect the confidentiality of information.

5.4.11 The hearing board shall prepare a written report of findings and rationale for the decision and shall forward copies to the parties involved, to the responsible administrator(s), to the University Ombudsperson, and to the Dean of the Graduate School. The report shall indicate the major elements of evidence, or lack thereof that support the hearing board’s decision. All recipients are expected to respect the confidentiality of this report. When a hearing board finds that a violation of academic rights has occurred and that redress is possible, it shall direct the responsible administrator to provide redress. The administrator, in consultation with the hearing board, shall implement an appropriate remedy.

5.4.12 Appeals. The decision of the original hearing board may be appealed by either party to a grievance only to the next level hearing board. If the original hearing was by a department/school/program hearing board, the appeal shall be made to the college hearing board. If the original hearing was by a college hearing board, the appeal should be made to the University Graduate Judiciary.

5.4.12.1 Appeals must allege either that applicable procedures for adjudicating the case were not followed in the previous hearing or that the findings of the hearing board were not supported by the facts that provided clear and convincing evidence. (Presentation of new information will normally be inappropriate at an appeal hearing.)

5.4.12.2 All appeals must be written and signed and must specify the alleged defects in the previous adjudication(s) in sufficient particularity to justify further proceedings. The appeal must also specify the redress that is sought.

5.4.12.3 Appeals must be filed with the chair of the appropriate appellate board (i.e., a college hearing board or the University Graduate Judiciary) within five (5) class days following a notice of a decision. The original decision shall be held in abeyance while under appeal.

5.4.12.4 An appellate board (i.e., a college hearing board or the University Graduate Judiciary) shall review each appeal request and may then forward a copy of the request to the appropriate individual(s) and invite a written response. After considering all submitted information, the appellate board may:

a. decide that sufficient reasons for an appeal do not exist and that the decision of the lower hearing body shall stand;

b. direct the lower hearing body to rehear the case or to reconsider or clarify its decision; or

c. decide that sufficient reasons exist for an appeal and accept the request, in full or in part, and proceed to schedule an appeal hearing.

5.4.12.4.1 Following an appeal hearing, an appellate board may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the lower hearing body.

5.4.13 Reconsideration. Each judiciary or hearing board shall make provision to allow the parties to a grievance to request reconsideration of a case within thirty (30) days if it is determined that new information has arisen. An exception to the time provision may be granted by the appropriate judiciary or hearing board.

5.5   Academic Dismissal and Academic Disciplinary Cases

5.5.1 In cases in which a student is charged with academic misconduct and the student’s dean has notified the student, in writing, of the charge and requested an academic disciplinary hearing, the complaint will be forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School.

5.5.2 Upon receiving the request for an academic disciplinary hearing, the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) shall promptly notify the student that s/he is required to meet with the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) to discuss the alleged academic misconduct and review the academic disciplinary hearing process. (See 5.5.4 and 5.5.5.)

5.5.2.1 At this time, the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) will also inform the student of his or her right to contest the allegation before the relevant department/school/college hearing board.

5.5.2.2 The student shall have ten (10) class days to request an academic grievance hearing to contest a penalty grade, or to contest a failure to pass comprehensive exams based on academic misconduct, or any other charge of academic or professional standards misconduct.  If the student files a request for a grievance hearing, the student will not meet with the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) until the unit-level hearing board has heard the student’s academic grievance and all appeals, if any, are final. If the hearing board determines that the student did not commit academic misconduct, the student will not face any additional sanctions based on that charge.

5.5.2.3 In such a hearing, the burden of proof shall rest upon the instructor or guidance committee (for comprehensive exams) whose prior assignment of the penalty grade will constitute a charge of academic misconduct. The hearing board shall proceed in compliance with applicable University and/or unit academic legislation on the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards; and the procedural and appeal provisions of this document shall apply.

5.5.3 In cases in which the student’s dean (or designee) has requested an academic disciplinary hearing for a complaint involving the violation of professional standards, the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) will meet with the student to determine the appropriate college hearing board for the hearing and review of the academic disciplinary process.

5.5.4 In cases in which the student’s dean (or designee) has requested an academic disciplinary hearing for a complaint involving academic misconduct other than a violation of professional standards, the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) will meet with the student to discuss the allegations and ask the student to select either an administrative hearing conducted by the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) or a disciplinary hearing conducted by the appropriate college hearing board. If the student chooses to have a college hearing, the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) will forward the complaint to the chair of the appropriate college hearing board. If the student requests an administrative hearing, the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) will proceed with the hearing.

5.5.5 A student who admits his/her academic misconduct to the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) waives the right to a hearing to contest the allegation. In such a situation, the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) shall impose an appropriate redress or sanction for the academic misconduct. The student may appeal the appropriateness of the sanction/redress imposed to the Provost within five (5) class days (see 5.4.12.3).

5.5.6 If a student fails to meet with the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) when so required by this document, the academic misconduct complaint will be referred to the appropriate college hearing board.

5.5.7 In cases of ambiguous jurisdiction, the Dean of the Graduate School will select the appropriate judiciary.

5.5.8 The academic disciplinary sanctions imposed on a student should be based on a consideration of all circumstances in a particular case, including the student’s prior record of academic misconduct, if any. Such sanctions may include one or more of the following:

Warning: An official written statement expressing disapproval of the behavior and notifying the student that it must not recur.

Probation: An official written statement establishing a period of time for observing and evaluating a student’s conduct and indicating that further academic misconduct may result in more severe disciplinary action. This probation may be accompanied by stipulations, including, but not limited to, restitution, participation in an educational program, or the loss of specified privileges.

Restitution: A requirement that a student pay for property damages or losses resulting from acts committed by the student, with the date by which the restitution must be completed.

Other: The student may be required to participate in an educational program deemed appropriate to a specific case or set of behaviors or lose specified University privileges.

Suspension: A suspension is temporary removal from the University or a department/school/college for a particular period of time, at the conclusion of which the student is eligible to apply for readmission. A suspension may also be a conditional suspension, in which case the student must demonstrate that he/she has fulfilled stated conditions prior to applying for readmission.

Dismissal: A dismissal is a permanent removal from the University or a school/college.

Only the University Graduate Judiciary and the Dean of the Graduate School may impose the sanctions of suspension or dismissal from the University. Only the dean of the relevant college and the University Graduate Judiciary may impose the sanction of suspension or dismissal from a school/college.

5.6 When sanctions other than or in addition to a penalty grade are involved, the college hearing board has original jurisdiction, and the University Graduate Judiciary has appellate jurisdiction over academic dismissals and disciplinary cases against graduate students relating to academic misconduct.

5.7 The University Graduate Judiciary is the final hearing body within the judicial structure related to graduate academic rights and responsibilities, in cases that were initiated at the college level.

5.7.1 The University Graduate Judiciary shall have available to it the full range of decisions provided to hearing boards through this document. In addition, the University Graduate Judiciary may make whatever recommendations it may consider appropriate to specific cases. When the Judiciary finds that a violation of academic rights has occurred and that redress is possible, the Judiciary shall direct the responsible administrator to provide redress. The administrator, in consultation with the University Graduate Judiciary, shall implement an appropriate remedy.