Continuous Enrollment Dispute Resolution Process
Rackham’s Continuous Enrollment Dispute Resolution process is available to Rackham Ph.D. students who have a dispute or disagreement with faculty or staff in their graduate program about the equity and fairness of decisions related to the Continuous Enrollment Policy.
Academic dispute resolution is a means for resolving disputes and achieving a workable outcome for all parties. The Rackham Resolution Officer, Darlene Ray-Johnson, is responsible for managing this process and may be reached at email@example.com.
Scope of the Board’s Activities
The Rackham Continuous Enrollment Dispute Resolution Board considers disputes Rackham Ph.D. students may have with faculty or staff regarding equity and fair treatment that is directly related to the Continuous Enrollment Policy. All other academic disputes are handled under the Rackham Academic Dispute Resolution Policy. Other University policies and procedures apply to allegations of faculty and staff misconduct; such matters will be governed by appropriate policies administered under other University units:
- Complaints that a member of the faculty or staff has engaged in research misconduct will be handled by the Office of the Vice President for Research.
- Complaints that a member of the faculty or staff has violated the University’s non-discrimination and harassment policies will be investigated by the University’s Office of Institutional Equity.
- Faculty and staff who are also students, or a student who also has a staff appointment, may be subject to procedures described in the “Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities.”
- Claims that a member of the faculty or staff has violated employment contracts will be investigated by Academic Human Resources.
A graduate student who alleges misconduct by a faculty or staff member must pursue the complaint in the most appropriate forum; a student may not pursue the same allegation in multiple venues. Students who seek to have a dispute heard by this Board agree not to pursue the same matter in other forums within the University. Students should consult the Rackham Resolution Officer or the Resolution Officer in their school or college to decide which avenue is best for their circumstances.
Dispute Resolution Principles and Responsibilities
Adherence to principles of impartiality, confidentiality, timeliness, and effective communication are important to successful dispute resolution. The Rackham Graduate School works with the faculty and staff in the schools and colleges to ensure that these principles are understood and observed in the dispute resolution process. However it is important to understand that disputes cannot be resolved anonymously; only students who are willing to identify themselves can use this process. The University strictly prohibits retaliation against a student who reports a concern about fair treatment under this procedure. Any student who believes that retaliation has occurred should notify the Rackham Resolution Officer.
The Academic Dispute Resolution Process
In many cases, academic disputes can be quickly and effectively resolved when addressed informally at the local level. Misunderstandings, miscommunications and disagreements often can be resolved through such conversations.
- As an initial step, a student should talk with the Graduate Chair in his or her own program. A student who is concerned about going to talk with the Graduate Chair may receive informal consultation to help the student prepare for that conversation:
- The student may consult informally and confidentially with a designated staff member at Rackham who is knowledgeable about the continuous enrollment policy and the funding arrangements in the schools and colleges.
- The student may consult informally with the Resolution Officer of the school or college where the student is enrolled for impartial advice or suggestions to resolve the issue (A list of Resolution Officers is included in the Rackham Academic Dispute Resolution Policy and Procedures).
- The student may consult informally with student resolution counselors who have been trained to handle academic disputes; these students can offer impartial advice about how to address and resolve disputes (A list of student resolution counselors is included in the Rackham Academic Dispute Resolution Policy and Procedures).
- The student may consult informally and confidentially with the Office of the Ombuds.
- If informal discussion with the Graduate Chair does not resolve the disagreement, the student may seek a resolution conference with the Rackham Resolution Officer. The Rackham Resolution Officer will convene a conversation to allow all parties to the dispute to present their viewpoints, share information, clarify issues and concerns. The goal of this conversation is finding an agreement that resolves the dispute. In the event that the parties are unable to reach an agreement during the conversation convened by the Rackham Resolution Officer, the Resolution Officer will notify the student of the option to refer the issue to a Continuous Enrollment Dispute Resolution Board (CEDRB). The student must make a request in writing for the dispute to be referred to the CEDRB. If a student prefers to use a process that does not involve other students, the student may use Rackham’s Academic Dispute Resolution Process instead of this process for a dispute related to the Continuous Enrollment Policy.
- The Continuous Enrollment Dispute Resolution Board (CEDRB) will be composed of three Rackham Ph.D. students and three Rackham Graduate School deans (usually two Assistant Deans and one Associate Dean). The Resolution Officer will be a consultant to the Board and will provide the Board with the information collected earlier in the process. Rackham Student Government (RSG) will identify six to eight Ph.D. students who are willing to serve as Board Members. RSG agrees to seek student members who represent different divisions of Rackham and different schools and colleges. Student members agree to receive dispute resolution training similar to that received by Student Resolution Officers and agree to respect the confidentiality of the process. When a Board is convened to hear a dispute, any student Board member who is enrolled in the same graduate program as the student with the dispute, or who has any other conflict of interest with any of the parties in the dispute, will be excused from service. Of the remaining student Board members, three will be randomly chosen to serve. The three Rackham representatives will be selected from among the Associate and Assistant Deans of Rackham; any dean with a conflict of interest with any of the parties in the dispute will be recused.
- The Rackham Resolution Officer will invite all parties to submit written statements. The Rackham Resolution Officer may also interview other persons who may be able to contribute to an understanding of the dispute, or ask them to provide written statements. At this stage the Rackham Resolution Officer may suggest a solution. If the parties accept this solution, the process is completed.
- If the parties do not accept the Resolution Officer’s proposed solution, the written materials will be submitted to the Continuous Enrollment Dispute Resolution Board (CEDRB). The Board will be asked to consider the materials. At its discretion, the Board may convene a conference in which all parties have the right to be present and to ask questions of one another. The conference will not be recorded. The parties must represent themselves at the conference. The Resolution Officer will be present as a resource during the Board’s deliberations.
- The CEDR Board does not have the expertise or the authority to make academic judgments about the quality or adequacy of a Ph.D. student’s academic, scientific, creative, or scholarly work. The Board is convened to consider whether a student has been treated unfairly by faculty or staff members (relative to other students) in the application of the Continuous Enrollment Policy to the student’s situation. The Board will assess the history, procedures and information used in the particular situation, and determine whether the preponderance of the evidence supports the claims of the parties in the dispute.
- The Board will seek to achieve consensus, and will recommend a solution to the dispute by majority vote. This recommendation will be communicated to all the parties in writing. If the solution agreed upon by the Board requires additional funding for the student, the Board may request this funding. The Rackham Dean will take the necessary steps to ensure that the funding will be provided.
- In the event that the vote of the Board is tied in such a way that the three student members of the Board did not all vote for the same outcome, the Board will recommend a solution in favor of the student. In the event that the vote of the Board is tied in such a way that the three students on the Board all voted for the same outcome, the Board will be dissolved and a new Board will be selected. This new Board will be comprised of other eligible student members of the Board and other representatives from Rackham. The second Board will review the materials available to the first Board. The second Board will be charged to agree upon a solution using the same process as the original Board. In the event that the second Board has another tie vote, each group of Board members will produce a written recommendation. Both of these recommendations will be forwarded to the Dean of Rackham (or his/her designee), and the Dean of Rackham (or his/her designee) will decide which recommendation to accept. The decision of the Dean of Rackham is final. There is no appeal of this decision.
- If one of the parties wishes to appeal the decision of the Board because of concerns that the Board’s process was arbitrary or unfair, or because new information has become available since the decision of the Board, the decision may be appealed to the Rackham Dean. Appeals must be submitted within 10 business days of receiving notification of the Board’s decision. Upon review of the Rackham Resolution Officer’s report, the statements submitted by the parties, and additional written statements submitted by the parties (limited to two pages in length), the Rackham Dean will review the decision and either affirm or alter it. This decision will be communicated to all parties in writing. The decision of the Dean of Rackham is final. There is no appeal of this decision.
- Periodically during the 2010-2011 academic year, and each year thereafter, the members of the Board and the Rackham Resolution Officer will review and evaluate the work of the Board during the previous year. The Board will report to Rackham Student Government and to the Rackham Dean about its case load, its decisions, its conclusions about whether the Board is fulfilling its intended role, and whether its procedures are effective and efficient. If the Board is not working successfully, Rackham Student Government and the Rackham Dean will work together on modifications of procedure, jurisdiction, or membership. Information about the case load and outcomes will be shared with the Rackham Dean, so that the Dean and the Rackham Executive Board can be informed about emerging issues that may suggest a need for policy revisions. It is the expectation of Rackham Student Government and the Rackham Dean that the Board will play its most important role in the initial year of the implementation of the policy. After the Continuous Enrollment policy has been in effect for three years, we anticipate that this Board will be dissolved, and disputes directly related to the Continuous Enrollment Policy will be handled by the Rackham Academic Dispute Resolution Policy.
Policy Agreement December 9, 2009
Approval by Rackham Student Government February 25, 2010