5.1  ACADEMIC GRIEVANCES.

5.1.1 A grievance is defined as an allegation filed by a medical student against a faculty, academic staff, or support staff member of the University community.

5.1.2 Any medical student may file a grievance within the time periods set forth in Article V, section 5.3.3.

5.1.3 A grievance may allege a violation of any of the rights of medical students under this document or challenge an academic evaluation on the ground that the evaluation was based entirely or in part upon factors (e.g., race, sex, personal animus) other than a good faith judgment about the medical student’s academic performance, including compliance with applicable professional standards.

5.1.3.1 A medical student who receives a penalty grade based on a charge of academic dishonesty and who is not referred for additional disciplinary action may contest the penalty grade by filing a grievance under this section. Instructors seeking sanctions for academic dishonesty other than or in addition to penalty grades must file a complaint under Article 5.2.2 of this document.

5.1.4 A student who has been dismissed for academic reasons by a medical college’s student performance committee and/or dean’s office may file a grievance under this section alleging procedural violations. Students may not file a grievance challenging such a decision to dismiss on substantive grounds.

5.1.5 Where an instructor or a committee has rendered a judgment regarding a medical student’s academic performance, that judgment is presumed to be made in good faith and the grievant bears the burden of proving the contrary, with the exception of allegations of academic dishonesty. In those cases, the faculty member bears the burden of proof.

5.2. COMPLAINTS.

5.2.1 A complaint is defined as an allegation filed by a member of the University community against a medical student.

5.2.2 Any member of the University community may file a complaint against a medical student within the time periods set forth in Article 5.3.3 alleging a violation of this document, academic dishonesty, violation of professional standards, or falsification of admission or academic records. (See also Integrity of Scholarships and Grades policy.)

5.2.3 If a medical student or a student enrolled in a joint medical/graduate program engages in conduct that would violate a student group regulation, general student regulation, or University policy if the conduct occurred on campus, that conduct may form the basis for a complaint when the alleged violation impairs, interferes with, or obstructs the mission, processes, or functions of the student’s medical college.

5.3 FILING A GRIEVANCE OR COMPLAINT.

5.3.1 To file a grievance/complaint, the grievant/complainant must submit a written, signed statement to the designated administrator of the college in which the medical student is enrolled. The statement must contain the following information:

A.  the specific provision of this document or other policy/regulation that has allegedly been violated;
B.  the time, place, and nature of the alleged violation;
C.  the person(s) against whom the grievance/complaint is filed;
D.  a concise and plain statement of the sanction or remedy sought; and
E. whether a hearing is requested.

5.3.2 Anonymous complaints will not be accepted. Students may seek assistance from the Office of the Ombudsman[1] to understand the grievance process.

5.3.3 Grievances/Complaints must be filed no later than mid-term of the semester following the one in which the alleged violation occurred (exclusive of the scheduled vacation periods during which students in the medical colleges are not enrolled for classes). If either party to a grievance/complaint is absent from the University during that semester, or if other appropriate reasons exist, an exception to this time limit may be granted by the designated college administrator. If either party to the grievance or complaint leaves the University prior to its resolution, the grievance/complaint may proceed at the discretion of the chair of the hearing body.

5.3.4 Grievances/complaints must be initiated at the lowest administrative level feasible. Grievances/complaints brought within a department that is solely administered by the medical colleges will normally be heard by the department hearing body. Grievances/complaints brought within a department that is not solely administered by the medical colleges will be referred to the medical student’s college hearing body. Upon the request of either party or on its own initiative, a department may waive jurisdiction and refer a grievance/complaint to the college hearing body with the approval of the college dean.

5.4  ADMINISTRATIVE RESOLUTION.

5.4.1 Where possible, a grievant or complainant is encouraged to seek resolution and redress informally.

5.4.2 If problems arise in the relationship between instructor and student, both should attempt to resolve them by informal, direct discussions. If the problems remain unsolved, the unit administrator and/or the Ombudsman should be consulted. If a problem is still unresolved, either individual may submit a grievance or complaint.

5.4.3 Within five (5) class days[2] after receipt of a grievance/complaint, the designated college administrator shall meet with the respondent to discuss the nature of the grievance/complaint. At that time, the respondent may admit his/her violation of this document or other policy/regulation and have the grievance/complaint resolved through administrative action.

5.4.3.1 A respondent who admits his/her violation of this document or other policy/regulation waives his/her right to a hearing regarding the underlying facts of that violation. In such a situation, the designated college administrator shall propose an appropriate redress or sanction for the violation. At that time, the respondent may choose to proceed to a hearing on the sole issue of the appropriateness of the sanction/redress.

5.4.4 Alternatively, the respondent may choose to deny that the alleged violation has occurred and request a hearing. In such a case, within five (5) class days, the designated college administrator shall forward the grievance/complaint to the chairperson of the hearing body.

5.5  JUDICIAL PROCEDURES.

5.5.1 Departments/units and colleges shall establish hearing board procedures consistent with this document. A copy of these procedures shall be filed with the medical college’s dean, the Ombudsman, and the Dean of the Graduate School. Hearing board procedures shall be reviewed every five (5) years.

5.5.2 The adjudication of grievances should proceed in a timely manner, as described below.

5.5.3 Upon receipt of a complaint/grievance, the chair of the hearing body shall transmit a copy of the complaint/grievance within five (5) class days to the hearing body members and to the respondent(s).

5.5.3.1 The hearing body shall review the complaint/grievance to determine whether it has jurisdiction and whether the complaint/grievance has alleged a violation of this document or other policy/regulation and may then forward a copy of the complaint/grievance to the appropriate individual(s) and invite a written response regarding these issues. After considering all submitted information, the hearing body may:

5.5.3.1.1 Accept the complaint/grievance, in full or in part, and proceed to schedule a hearing.

5.5.3.1.2 Reject the complaint/grievance and provide an explanation.

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

5.5.4 At least ten (10) class days prior to the hearing, each party shall provide the chair of the hearing body with the names of his/her witnesses (if any) and advisor (if any).[3]

5.5.5 At least five (5) class days prior to hearing, each party shall be entitled to a written notice of hearing from the hearing body. This notice of hearing shall state:

5.5.5.1 The name(s) of the parties;

5.5.5.2 The nature of the issues to be heard with sufficient detail to enable each party to prepare its respective case;

5.5.5.3 The date, time, and place of the hearing;

5.5.5.4 The names of witnesses (if any) and advisor (if any); and

5.5.5.5 The names of the members of the body adjudicating the case.

5.5.6 At least three (3) class days prior to a formal hearing, either party may submit a request to the chair of the hearing body that a member of the hearing body be disqualified because of a conflict of interest. (See Article 5.9.4.2.) If the chair of the hearing body is the subject of the request, the request should be filed with the designated college administrator. The chair of the hearing body or designated college administrator shall rule on the issue of disqualification promptly and, if a member is disqualified, the name of the new hearing body member shall be forwarded to the parties immediately.

5.5.7 Any amendments to a complaint/grievance must be filed at least five (5) class days prior to the hearing on that complaint/grievance.

5.5.8 Either party may request, with cause, a postponement prior to the scheduled time of a hearing. The chair of the hearing body may grant or deny such a request.

5.5.9 Each party is expected to appear at the hearing and present his/her case to the hearing body.

5.5.10 Should the complainant/grievant fail to appear, the hearing body may either postpone the hearing or dismiss the complaint/grievance.

5.5.11 Should the respondent(s) fail to appear, the hearing body may either postpone the hearing or, if the hearing body determines that an acceptable excuse has not been offered, hear the grievance/complaint in the absence of the respondent(s).

5.5.12 The hearing body may accept written statements from a party to the hearing in lieu of a personal appearance, but only in unusual circumstances. A copy of the written statement shall also be sent to the opposing party. Such written statements must be submitted to the hearing body and to the opposing party at least one (1) day prior to the scheduled hearing.

5.5.13 The hearing body shall maintain a collegial atmosphere in hearings.

5.5.14 Either party may choose to be accompanied by a member of the faculty, staff, or student body of the University who may serve as an advisor. The advisor may be present throughout the hearing but has no voice in the hearing unless permission to participate is granted by the chair of the hearing body. Permission may be granted to the respondent to be accompanied by an attorney if criminal charges are pending against the respondent regarding the subject matter of the complaint/grievance. If the respondent is charged with a sex offense, the complainant may also have an attorney present.

5.5.15 During the hearing, each party shall have an opportunity to make an opening statement, present evidence, question witnesses, ask questions of the opposing party, and present a closing statement.

5.5.16 The hearing body shall issue a decision and prepare a written report of its findings and supporting rationale. As part of its decision, the hearing body shall determine what, if any, redress or sanction should be implemented. The hearing body shall forward copies of the report to the parties, the designated college administrator, the Ombudsman, and the dean of the medical college involved in the complaint/grievance. All recipients are expected to respect the confidentiality of this report. The dean of the medical college shall take appropriate action to implement any redress or sanction directed by the hearing body.

5.5.17 Either party to a hearing may request reconsideration of a decision within thirty (30) days if it is determined by the chair of the hearing body that new evidence has arisen. “New evidence” is defined as relevant information or documents previously unavailable to the party, although the party acted with due diligence to obtain such evidence. An exception to the thirty (30) day time limit may be granted by the chair of the hearing body only upon a showing of good cause.

5.6. URGENT CASES.

5.6.1 The following process makes special provisions to adjudicate urgent complaints/grievances in which it is alleged that the conduct of a medical student threatens immediate and irreparable harm to a member of the University community or to patients or clients for whose care one or more of the medical colleges is responsible.

5.6.2 When student conduct that threatens immediate or irreparable harm is alleged, the student shall be suspended by the appropriate dean/designated college administrator. The appropriate dean/designated college administrator shall convene, within three (3) class days, a fact-finding hearing. Based on this fact-finding hearing, the dean/designated college administrator will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify continuation of the suspension. The student will be notified of the time and place of the fact-finding hearing and shall have the right to be present, to be informed of the particulars of the allegation, and to speak on his or her own behalf.

5.6.3 When the fact-finder finds sufficient evidence that the student has engaged in conduct of a sort that, if continued, threatens immediate or irreparable harm and no compelling evidence has been provided by the student that the conduct will be or has already been discontinued, the dean/designated college administrator shall suspend the student immediately (or continue the suspension if one is already in place) and notify the college hearing body of the suspension.

5.6.4 Upon receiving notification that a student has been suspended following a fact-finding hearing, the normal procedures for conducting a college hearing will be instituted immediately. The student will remain suspended pending a decision by the college hearing body.

5.6.5 If the fact-finder does not find sufficient evidence to justify a suspension, the suspension will be lifted. The dean/designated college administrator will forward its conclusions in writing to the college hearing body and normal procedures for conducting a college hearing will be instituted immediately.

5.7. SANCTIONS.

5.7.1   Complaints: If it finds a violation, the hearing body may impose one of the following sanctions:

5.7.1.1  Warning: An official written statement advising the medical student that additional violations will result in more severe sanctions.

5.7.1.2  Probation: A period of time specified for observing and evaluating a medical student’s conduct, with or without special conditions, including a written reprimand, with an indication that further violations will result in more severe disciplinary action, including suspension or dismissal from the college. Probation will be imposed for a specific period of time and, provided no further violations have occurred, the medical student shall automatically be removed from probation when that period expires. Probation may be accompanied by a requirement that restitution be made for University property damages or other losses resulting from the violation, or such other requirements or special conditions as may be appropriate under the circumstances.

5.7.1.3  Suspension: A suspension from the student’s medical college may be for a specified period of time, in which case the medical student is eligible to apply for readmission at the end of that period of time, or it may be a conditional suspension, in which case the medical student must demonstrate that he/she has fulfilled stated conditions prior to applying for readmission. Suspensions must be approved by the dean/designated college administrator of the relevant medical college. If the dean/designated college administrator does not approve the suspension, the dean/designated college administrator may direct that another sanction be imposed. The dean/designated college administrator will normally consult with the hearing body before imposing another sanction.

5.7.1.4  Dismissal: Dismissal from the student’s medical college. Dismissals must be approved by the dean of the relevant medical college and the Provost. If the dismissal is not approved, the dean and Provost may direct that another sanction be imposed. The dean and Provost will normally consult with the hearing body before imposing another sanction.

5.7.1.5  Other: Other disciplinary action deemed appropriate to a specific case.

5.8. APPEALS.

5.8.1 The decision of the hearing body may be appealed by either party to the next level hearing body. If the original hearing was by the department hearing body, the appeal shall be made to the college hearing body. If the original hearing was by the college hearing body, the appeal shall be made to the University Graduate–Professional Judiciary (“UGPJ”).[4]

5.8.1.2  Grievances. The college hearing body or UGPJ shall hear appeals of decisions arising from academic grievances. Such appeals will be confined to allegations regarding procedural violations. When reviewing procedural matters, the appellate body will normally restrict its determination to issues which challenge the adequacy of the notice of the hearing provided the respondent by the hearing body and/or the adequacy of the hearing provided the parties by the hearing body. Evidence presented to the hearing body or otherwise pertaining to the substance of the grievance will not be reheard.

5.8.1.3  Complaints. The college hearing body or UGPJ shall hear appeals of decisions arising from complaints. Medical students may appeal decisions arising from complaints on either substantive or procedural grounds. When reviewing substantive matters, the appellate body will normally restrict itself to considering whether there were sufficient grounds for the decision made by the lower hearing body and/or whether the sanction imposed was appropriate to the nature and seriousness of the violation. Appeals from decisions arising from a complaint may allege that the decision of the hearing body was substantively unfair even if no procedural violations are alleged to have occurred, but the appellate body will not rehear the complaint or the evidence presented to the hearing body.

5.8.2 Appeals must be written and signed by the party filing the appeal and must specify the basis for appeal in sufficient detail to justify further proceedings. Appeals to the college hearing body must be filed with the designated college administrator. Appeals to the UGPJ must be filed with the Dean of the Graduate School.

5.8.3 Appeals must specify the redress that is sought.

5.8.4 New evidence may only be submitted to the appellate body if it is relevant to the appeal and was previously unavailable to the party submitting it, although the party acted with due diligence to obtain such evidence.

5.8.5 Appeals must be filed within fourteen (14) class days following the date of the hearing body’s decision. Except in urgent cases, any redress or sanctions imposed by the hearing body will be held in abeyance while the appeal is pending.

5.8.6 The appellate body shall review the appeal and forward a copy of the appeal to the other party and invite a written response. After considering the appeal and response, the appellate body may:

5.8.6.1 Decide that sufficient reasons for an appeal do not exist and that the decision of the hearing body shall stand;

5.8.6.2 Direct the hearing body to rehear the case or to reconsider or clarify its decision;

5.8.6.3 Decide that sufficient reasons exist for an appeal and schedule an appeal hearing in a timely manner.

5.8.7 Following an appeal hearing, the appellate body may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the hearing body. The appellate body may also direct the hearing body to rehear the original complaint/grievance.

5.9. JUDICIAL STRUCTURE.

5.9.1  Department Hearing Bodies.

5.9.1.1 Each department that is solely administered by the medical colleges may, in accordance with its bylaws and procedures, establish procedures to deal with complaints/grievances that arise at the department level. Complaints/grievances may be resolved informally or, at the request of either party, formally through a department hearing body. No student or faculty member involved in the complaint/grievance may serve on the hearing board.

5.9.2  College Hearing Bodies.

5.9.2.1 Each medical college shall, in accordance with its bylaws and procedures, establish a hearing body for grievances/complaints involving medical students that arise at the college level or that cannot be resolved at the department level. Such hearing bodies shall have equal numbers of faculty and medical students selected by their respective groups in accordance with college bylaws. If a faculty member or medical student is involved in the complaint/grievance, neither the faculty member nor the medical student may serve on the hearing body for that complaint/grievance.

5.9.3 University Graduate-Professional Judiciary (“UGPJ”)

5.9.3.1 A body shall be established composed of the Dean of the Graduate School or designee who shall serve as chairperson; five (5) faculty members of the University Graduate Council, three (3) of whom shall be the faculty representatives on the University Graduate Council; and five (5) students chosen by the all-University graduate student governing body, three (3) of whom shall be medical students, one from each medical college. If a faculty member or medical student who sits on the UGPJ is involved in the complaint/grievance, neither the faculty member nor the medical student shall serve on the UGPJ for that complaint/grievance. Each year the College Advisory Council of each of the medical colleges shall select an alternate faculty member who shall sit on the UGPJ in the event the faculty member representing that college on the UGPJ is unable to serve on a complaint/grievance. A medical student representative to the UGPJ who is unable to serve on a complaint/grievance shall be replaced for that complaint/grievance by another student from the same medical college who is chosen by the all-University graduate student governing body.

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

5.9.4 General Considerations.

5.9.4.1 Department and college hearing body members and students serving on the UGPJ shall take office in the fall of the year and shall serve one year. The one-year term shall not preclude reappointment the following year. Faculty serving on the UGPJ shall have a term that coincides with their term on the University Graduate Council.

5.9.4.2 Any member of a hearing body who has a conflict of interest in a complaint/grievance shall be disqualified from sitting on the hearing body for that specific complaint/grievance. A “conflict of interest” is defined as any academic, financial, scholarly, or social relationship that would, in the judgment of the hearing body chair, impair the ability of a member to make a fair and impartial judgment. In the event that a member of a hearing body is disqualified, an alternate from the appropriate student or faculty group will be selected according to the established procedures for selecting members of that hearing body.

([1] The Ombudsman is a senior faculty member who assists members of the MSU community in resolving complaints or concerns informally, impartially, and independently.)

([2] A “class day” is defined as a day on which classes are held, including a day during final examination week.)

([3] A witness will normally be a member of the University community. However, since medical students spend significant blocks of instructional time in hospitals, clinics, and practitioners’ offices, staff or patients in those settings may, from time to time, be requested to serve as witnesses because they have evidence important to the resolution of the complaint/grievance. Wherever possible, a written statement shall be sought in lieu of personal appearances and testimony by those who are not members of the University community.)

([4] The UGPJ is the final hearing body within the judicial structure related to medical student academic rights and responsibilities.)