Student Appeals and Complaints
The University of North Carolina Asheville has established accessible policies and procedures for the filing and review of student appeals and complaints and grievances.
A student appeal is a request for faculty and/or administrators to review and overturn a prior decision. Decisions subject to student appeal are listed below.
A student complaint, or grievance, is an objection to an alleged violation of law, applicable University policies or procedures, and/or deprivation of applicable due process for which the University is or may be responsible, or has a responsibility to address or resolve. Decisions subject to student complaint are listed below.
Contacting a Student Ombudsperson
Students who have questions, concerns, or complaints that are not adequately addressed by the University’s established channels for filing student appeals or complaints as listed above are encouraged to contact one of two student ombudspersons:
For academic appeals or complaints:
Director of Student Success
University of North Carolina Asheville
006 Ramsey Library, CPO 1580
1 University Heights
Asheville, NC 28804
For non-academic appeals or complaints:
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
University of North Carolina Asheville
270 Governors Hall, CPO 9000
1 University Heights
Asheville, NC 28804
Filing a Complaint Against the University
Students have three additional options if they have a complaint that has not been adequately addressed or resolved after exhausting the University’s complaint resolution procedures:
- Students can file a complaint with the UNC System Office. This involves reviewing the Student Complaint Policy and submission of the Student Complaint Form. For more information, email: email@example.com.
- In many cases students who reside legally outside of North Carolina while attending UNC Asheville can file a complaint in the state where they are residing. A list of contacts at state higher education authorization agencies is compiled and updated by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.
- Students can also contact UNC Asheville’s regional accrediting agency, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Students are advised to consult its Complaints Policy Statement for information on qualifying conditions and procedures for filing an accreditation-related complaint.
Plagiarism/Cheating (SD 11213S)
As a community of scholars dedicated to learning and the pursuit of knowledge, UNC Asheville relies on the honesty and academic integrity of all the members of its community. Any act of plagiarism, cheating, or use of unauthorized materials or assistance is academic dishonesty. A person who knowingly assists another in academic dishonesty is likewise guilty of dishonesty. According to the instructor’s view of the gravity of the offense and the instructor’s syllabus policy, a student may be punished by a failing grade or a grade of zero for the assignment or test, or a failing grade in the course. The faculty member may also require that the student complete additional sanctions, such as the completion of an online course on plagiarism or resubmission of the original assignment.
In all situations where a student has been disciplined for academic dishonesty, the instructor must submit a brief statement of the case to the University Registrar with a copy to the student. The Registrar maintains records of academic dishonesty incidents and notifies the instructor when a student is found to have multiple offenses. Depending upon the severity and/or repetition of the offense, the Registrar and/or instructor may recommend that the Provost impose an additional penalty, such as cancellation of graduation with honors, cancellation of scholarships, or dismissal from the university. If the Provost decides that additional penalties are warranted, the student will be notified in writing.
If a student feels that he or she has been unjustly accused of academic dishonesty, the student has ten (10) class days from the date of the instructor’s written notification to the student to respond in writing. This response is to be sent to both the instructor and the University Registrar. The instructor should then meet with the student to discuss the charges within five (5) class days. If needed, the student may then contact the Registrar for assistance in identifying options for possible resolution. If needed, the Faculty Conciliator will be contacted to mediate and/or convene the Academic Appeals Board.
Policy on Academic Misconduct (SD 2282)
Charges of Academic Misconduct. In the event that an instructor accuses a student of academic misconduct, the student has the right to a hearing to determine the question of fact. Pursuant to that determination, disciplinary action such as the lowering of a grade due to the alleged action will be held in abeyance. In determining the facts the burden of proof will be upon the instructor who makes the allegation.
- Definition. Academic Misconduct is any act that constitutes cheating or plagiarism.
Step 1. The student shall request a hearing by conferring with the Faculty Conciliator within ten class days of the accusation. Failure to meet this time limit is taken as acknowledgment that the instructor’s charge is true and any right to a later hearing is forfeited.
Step 2. The Faculty Conciliator will in writing request from the instructor a written statement of the charge, and the nature of the evidence upon which the charge rests. Upon receipt of this, the Conciliator may attempt to resolve the matter directly.
Step 3. If this appears to be inappropriate or is unsuccessful, the Conciliator forwards a copy of the instructor’s charge to the student and to the Chair of the Academic Appeals Board (AAB).
Step 4. The Chair of the AAB will convene the hearing no sooner than five class days or later than 10 class days after receipt of the statement of charges. At the closed hearing, the instructor as well as the student will be present. Witnesses for either party may be called in to present evidence. After the instructor has presented the charge and supporting evidence, the student has the opportunity to be heard and to present evidence and his explanation of what took place in the matter of academic misconduct.
Step 5. The AAB by a simple majority of those present shall determine the question of fact based upon the preponderance of evidence. The AAB Chair shall then notify in writing both parties to the Hearing. If it is found that the instructor has not prove the case against the student, the AAB should indicate in writing that any action taken by the instructor to lower the student’s grade or otherwise punish the student on the basis of the original accusation would not be justified by the evidence. A statement of the AAB’s findings shall be forwarded to the Office of the Registrar for inclusion in the student’s file.
Step 6. If the AAB determines that this is a second offense or more by the student, it may recommend dismissal to the VCAA.
NOTE: A class day is any day in which the University is in session according to the academic fall-spring calendar. If the student is unable to file a grievance due to the end of classes for the summer, the student must notify the Conciliator in writing within 20 days of his intention to file when classes resume in the fall.
Student Grievance Procedure (SD 2981)
A student grievance procedure exists to serve all enrolled students at UNCA in the event that they judge they have been improperly or unfairly treated in academic matters. It should be noted that written notice of the grievance must be filed with the Faculty Conciliator within ten class days of the incident or of the time a student could reasonably be expected to know of the incident.
- Purpose. The purpose of the student grievance procedure is to provide each student enrolled at UNCA with a standardized, formal process for seeking a resolution when, in his judgment, he has been treated unfairly or improperly in an academic matter by a faculty member of this University.
- Definitions. Unfair or improper treatment of a student by a faculty member is defined to be:
- the instructor’s failure to abide by stated university policies, or failure to abide by written or stated course policies in such a way as to adversely affect the student’s academic standing;
- abusive or improper conduct on the part of the instructor that clearly has an adverse affect on the student’s academic standing; and
- the instructor’s prejudiced or capricious grading practices.
- Grievance Procedure.
Step 1. If a student believes that he or she has been treated unfairly or improperly by a faculty member, a conference must be scheduled with the instructor to discuss the matter. The student must explain his or her position to the instructor and attempt to understand the justification for the instructor’s actions. The purpose of this meeting is to attempt to reach a mutual understanding of the student’s situation and the instructor’s actions and to resolve all differences in an informal, cooperative manner.
Step 2. If, because of the circumstances of the grievance, it is impractical to consult promptly with the instructor, or if the student is unsatisfied with the results of Step 1, the student must seek the assistance of the Faculty Conciliator within ten class days after the incident, or after the time the student could reasonably be expected to know of the incident. The Conciliator’s role is to guide the student through the remaining steps.
Step 3. Within five class days after the initial meeting with the student, the Conciliator must then meet with the instructor and the instructor’s chairperson in order to seek an amicable solution. If, when the Conciliator reports to the student the substance of the meeting, the student is still dissatisfied, he may then wish to proceed to Step 4 and file a formal grievance.
Step 4. To file a grievance, the student must obtain a grievance petition from the Conciliator. The petition must specify the date of the incident and detail the student’s grievance against the instructor. The student must then file the petition with the Conciliator. This filing must occur within 20 class days of the incident or of the time a student could reasonably be expected to know of the incident. In cases of doubt concerning the application of the time limit, the Conciliator will decide. Failure to meet this deadline forfeits the right of appeal. The Conciliator must then immediately forward a copy of the petition to the instructor, to the instructor’s department Chair, and the Chair of the AAB.
Step 5. The Chair of the AAB shall convene a meeting of the Board no sooner than five class days nor longer than ten class days after receipt of the Grievance Petition. In a closed hearing, the student shall present his grievance, along with relevant supporting evidence and pertinent arguments. He may only address issues that are described in the Grievance Petition. The instructor shall be given an opportunity to respond to the charges. The votes of two faculty members and two student members that are in concurrence with the student’s position shall be required in order for the grievance to be found valid.
Step 6. If a grievance is unfounded the AAB shall provide written notification of that fact to the student, the faculty member, and the departmental Chair. If a grievance is deemed valid, the Board shall forward a written account of its deliberations, including its recommendations for redress, to the student, the faculty member, the department Chair, and the VCAA. The Chair of the AAB, after consultation with the VCAA, shall convene a meeting of himself, the VCAA, the Conciliator, and the faculty member to discuss the matter and suggest strategies for resolving the grievance.
Faculty Conciliator and Alternate
- Selection. The Faculty Conciliator is chosen by SGA from a list of four full-time faculty members submitted by the Faculty Senate. SGA selects one of the nominees as Alternate Conciliator should the circumstances of a specific situation make the involvement of the Conciliator impractical. Because of the personal nature of some of the grievances and the potential for injured feelings and hostility, only tenured faculty are eligible to have their names submitted to SGA for the position.
Both the conciliator and the alternate serve one year terms with the alternate assuming the position of conciliator in the subsequent year. A new alternate is chosen at the end of each spring semester; accepting the nomination as Alternate Conciliator means a two-year commitment to the process. Terms of service begin at the start of the fall semester continue through the following summer. The Faculty Conciliator is an ex officio non-voting member of the Academic Appeals Board.
Purpose. The job of the Faculty Conciliator is to hear student grievances, to try to resolve them at the earliest stage consistent with fairness to all parties, and to guide the student through the later stages of the grievance procedure if conciliation proves impossible. Consistent with justice, it should be the aim of the Conciliator to resolve as many cases as possible without going to the Academic Appeals Board
Academic Appeals Board
The Academic Appeals Board shall be composed of four faculty members and one alternate, elected at large by faculty from a list of no fewer than seven nominees provided by the Faculty Senate; three students plus one alternate (elected by the Student Government Association), and the faculty conciliator. All board members shall serve for one year and they may be reelected to serve consecutive terms. A chair and a secretary of the board shall be elected from and by the faculty members on the board. A quorum shall consist of five members, including no fewer than two I students and three faculty members. Academic Appeals Board members are necessarily excluded from deliberations in which:
- The board member is related to one of the two principals.
- The board member is a departmental colleague of one of the principals.
- The board member is currently enrolled in a course taught by one of the principals.
- The board member is one of the two principals involved.
All questions of scheduling and satisfying deadlines shall he adjudicated by the chair of the Academic Appeals Board. All records of the board’s deliberations shall be kept in a file maintained and preserved by the chair of the board
Policy on Disruptive Behavior in the Classroom
These are the procedures to be followed by the instructor when invoking the Policy on Disruptive Behavior in the Classroom. The procedures and the sample notification letter that follows will be included in both the Faculty and Student Handbooks, as well as in the addendum at the end of the catalog.
Binding Procedures for Instructors
The instructor must provide an opportunity for the student to be heard. In providing this opportunity, the instructor must follow the procedures described below:
- Since part of the job of an instructor is to maintain classroom decorum, the instructor’s first step should be to discuss the disruptive behavior with the student on an informal basis. Following the informal discussion, the instructor should e-mail the student, with a copy sent to the department chair or program director. This copy serves as documentation of the conversation. The email could contain the following wording:
“As a follow-up to our conversation today, I want to remind you that ____________ behavior (list behaviors, such as communicating threats to other students, talking on cell phone) is disruptive to the functioning of _____________ (Insert course name). My role as a faculty member is to ensure that each student has a learning environment free from disruption.”
- If disruptions continue, the instructor will personally talk with the student, giving him or her written notice that the instructor proposes to withdraw the student from the course for disruption of the class. The notice must identify the behavior deemed disruptive that has resulted in the invocation of this policy, as well as provide information regarding the scheduling of a time and place for the student to meet with the instructor and department chair or program director to discuss the issue.
- The student shall be given the opportunity to meet with the instructor and department chair or program director, and to be heard no later than five (5) business days after the student’s receipt of written notification.
- The date of notification establishes whether the student will be given a W or F. A grade of W is assigned before the withdrawal date, and either a W or F is assigned after that date, at the recommendation of the instructor.
- With concurrence of the department chair or program director, the instructor may immediately require the student to leave the class, or may allow the student to remain in class until a final determination is made on the student’s status.
- The student must be informed that he or she may invite one person from the University community to be present as an observer at the meeting between the student, the instructor, and the department chair or program director.
Student’s Right to Appeal
If the student wishes to appeal the instructor’s decision to withdraw the student from class, he or she should follow the academic appeal procedures outlined in the Student Handbook.
Sample Notification Letter
Name of Student
Address of Student
Address Line 2
Dear Name of Student:
Your conduct in (course name) is unacceptable. The specific behavior that is unacceptable is: (list behaviors). My role as a faculty member is to ensure that each student has a learning environment free from disruption. Your behavior has negatively affected the learning environment for other students. As such, I am invoking the Disruptive Behavior in the Classroom policy, and propose to withdraw you from this course.
You are immediately suspended from this class and may not attend until a final decision is made about your status. (Insert if suspension from class is immediate.)
I invite you to meet with me and my department chair (program director) to discuss this issue. I am available at (set specific time) on (set date within 5 business days) in (set location). You may ask one person who is a member of the UNCA community to be present at this meeting as an observer. He or she must keep our conversation confidential.
Please contact me at (phone number) or (email) if you do not intend to attend our meeting.
cc: Department Chair or Program Director