The Theology Department’s academic grievance appeals process is consistent with the process put in place by the College of Arts and Sciences (https://www.luc.edu/cas/advising/appeals/). Students wishing to dispute a grade or charge of academic misconduct should familiarize themselves with that process.
1. As per the College of Arts and Sciences procedure, students must first discuss any grade grievance or charge of academic misconduct (e.g., plagiarism or cheating on a test) with the relevant instructor to determine whether or not the matter can be resolved. If the instructor decides a grade change is warranted, the instructor will submit a grade change request. The appeal for the change of grade must be based upon evidence that the instructor has miscalculated a grade, deviated from the grading criteria specified in the course syllabus, or assigned the grade in a manner that is capricious, improper, or discriminatory. Students may also appeal an instructor’s penalty for academic misconduct if the penalty deviates from the penalty stated in the instructor’s syllabus or if the student believes the determination that misconduct has occurred is in error. No action will be taken on any appeal until an effort to resolve the problem by direct discussion with the professor involved.
2. If the attempt to resolve the dispute at the instructor level is not successful, the student may submit a written request for a grievance hearing. The request should be submitted to the chairperson of the Theology Department within twenty days of the grade’s publication or the alleged misconduct’s occurrence. The student must describe the steps taken up to that point to resolve the dispute with the instructor and the nature of the dispute. Students should also include in that request any relevant documentation that they believe supports their claim that the grade should be changed. In an appeal of a change of grade, the burden of proof rests with the student.
3. The department chairperson will review the student request and provide a copy to the instructor for comment. Upon review the chairperson will typically attempt to mediate the dispute informally; but failing that, he or she will make a decision whether or not to proceed with a formal hearing before a grievance committee. That decision will be made and communicated to the student, if practical, no later than three weeks following receipt of the request. If the chairperson deems that a grievance claim does not have sufficient merit (the grievance is unreasonable or lacks sufficient documentation), she or he may decline to move it forward and leave the assigned grade or penalty in place. In such a case, the chairperson will offer, in writing, the rationale for that decision and will communicate that information to the student, instructor, and assistant dean for academic affairs.
4. If the chairperson determines that a hearing is warranted, she or he will communicate that decision in writing to the student and instructor, if practical, no later than three weeks following receipt of the student’s request and will assemble a committee to hear the grievance. If practicable, the hearing will take place within two weeks of that communication. The department chairperson will assemble a grievance committee that will consist of three to five faculty whom the chairperson determines are able to conduct a fair, unbiased hearing.
5. The student disputing the grade or charge of academic misconduct and the instructor are expected to present in person all the information and documentation they deem relevant to the case to the committee during the hearing(s) or prior to it (them). All materials must be reviewed during the hearing regardless of when they were submitted. Normally, the committee will meet with each party individually, but the student or the instructor may request of the committee chair to meet with the committee in each other’s presence. The grievance committee may address questions to any party or witness during the hearing. The faculty member assigned as chairperson of the grievance committee will decide how the hearing should proceed. The hearing is not a legal proceeding and no attorneys are admissible. If for any reason the instructor is unavailable on the date of the hearing, the department chair will represent the instructor before the grievance committee. In accordance with College of Arts and Sciences procedure, the committee may consider the imposition of additional sanctions beyond those assigned by the instructor.
6. The committee will submit its decision to the department chairperson within two weeks of the grievance committee hearing. The chairperson will communicate that decision, along with the rationale for it, to the student, instructor, and office of the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. If a change of grade is warranted, at that point the department will submit to the dean’s office a request for a grade change. That request will be reviewed by the relevant dean’s office staff.
7. If the student wishes to appeal the department’s grievance committee’s decision, he or she must follow the procedure that the College of Arts and Sciences has put in place for appealing a grade at the college level. Please see https://www.luc.edu/cas/advising/appeals/ for information about how to move such an appeal forward.