Grievance Procedures Against Faculty | Columbia Journalism School

Grievance Procedures Against Faculty

Formal Grievance Procedures Against Faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism


Students are encouraged but not required to seek an informal resolution to their complaints against their faculty. They may elect, instead, to ask for a formal grievance hearing. They may also seek a grievance hearing if informal mediation fails.


Issues that are subject to grievance under these procedures include:

  1. Failure to show appropriate respect in an instructional setting for the rights of others to hold opinions differing from their own;
  2. Misuse of faculty authority in an instructional setting to pressure students to support a political or social cause; and
  3. Personal conduct in the classroom or another instructional setting that adversely affects the learning environment.

These procedures do not take the place of the grievance procedures already established to address disputes over grades. Students should also use alternative procedures in the following situations:

  1. If the alleged misconduct involves discrimination and sexual harassment, a student should refer to the University’s policies and procedures.
  2. Complaints against the School’s faculty that allege scientific or scholarly misconduct are also evaluated using other procedures. These may be contained in the Statement on Professional Ethics and Faculty Obligations and Guidelines for Review of Professional Misconduct outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

Any student currently enrolled in the University and directly affected by the behavior of a faculty member of the School may ask for a grievance hearing under the procedures in this statement.

The student initiates the hearing by submitting a written statement to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs documenting the grievance. The request must be submitted no later than 30 days after the end of the semester within which the misconduct was supposed to have occurred.

The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will review the complaint to determine if there are sufficient grounds to proceed with a hearing or if the issues raised by the student can be resolved in another manner. If the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs determines that a hearing is warranted, he or she will appoint an ad hoc committee to operate as a fact­finding body and report back on whether the complaint is justified.

When appropriate, the committee may also recommend remedies to the student’s complaint and disciplinary action against the faculty member.

The composition of such an ad hoc committee cannot be determined before the event. It is selected by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for its expertise in meeting the issues raised. The membership will normally consist of faculty members, and, at the discretion of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, could include a student, and/or senior administrator.

The faculty member is given the student’s letter of complaint and invited to provide the ad hoc committee with a written response. The committee reviews both statements and is given access to any other written documents relevant to the complaint. It will normally interview both the grievant and the faculty member and may, at its discretion, ask others to provide testimony.

The investigative committee serves in an advisory capacity to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. It is expected to complete its investigation in a timely manner and submit a written report to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs who may accept or modify its findings and recommendations. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will inform the student, the faculty member and the Dean of the School of his/her decision in writing.

The Committee ordinarily convenes within 10 working days of being appointed by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and ordinarily completes its investigation and sends the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs its report within 30 working days of convening. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs normally issues his or her decision within 30 working days of receiving the committee’s report.

The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may discipline faculty members who are found to have committed professional misconduct. Any sanctions will be imposed in a manner that is consistent with the University’s policies and procedures on faculty discipline. In particular, if the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs believes that the offense is sufficiently serious to merit dismissal, he or she will initiate the procedures in Section 75 of the University Statutes for terminating tenured appointments, and non­tenured appointments before the end of their stated term, for cause.


Either the student or the faculty member may appeal the decision of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to the Provost. Findings of fact, remedies granted the student and penalties imposed on the faculty member are all subject to appeal. A written appeal must be submitted to the Provost a written request within 15 working days of the date of the letter informing them of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs decision.

Normally, the Provost takes no longer than 30 working days to evaluate an appeal. The Provost usually confines his or her review to the written record but reserves the right to collect information in any manner that will help to make his or her decision on the appeal.

The Provost will inform both the student and the faculty member of his or her decision in writing. If the Provost decides that the faculty member should be dismissed for cause, the case is subject to further review according to the procedures in Section 75 of the University Statutes, as noted above. Otherwise, the decision of the Provost is final and not subject to further appeal.


All aspects of investigations of a student grievance are confidential. The proceedings of the grievance committee are not open to the public. Only the student complainant and the faculty member accused of misconduct receive copies of the decisions of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Provost. Everyone who is involved with the investigation of a grievance is expected to respect the confidentiality of the process.