Grievance Policy

Section VI, Article 2

A grievance is a disagreement or complaint about some aspect of graduate program business. If you wish to request a change to a program requirement with which you do not disagree, you should submit a petition.

Options for filing a grievance

Scholars that have a grievance related to some aspect of their experience in the chemistry graduate program have two options for taking action.

  1. Submit anonymous feedback via the end-of-semester review process;
  2. Submit a formal written grievance to the graduate committee.

Understanding feedback versus grievances

The major difference between providing anonymous feedback or submitting a formal grievance in the chemistry graduate program is the possibility afforded for the complaint to remain anonymous. The graduate program understands that there may be an unequal power dynamic between faculty and staff and graduate scholars. Scholars may wish for an issue to be addressed without identifying themselves as the origin of the complaint. While this is understandable, the graduate program’s ability to act on anonymous complaints is extremely limited.

Anonymous complaints can be used to offer faculty a general sense of scholar concerns but cannot be used to directly address a grievance with any individual member of the chemistry community. We are grateful for anonymous feedback and will do our best to address actionable information with the full faculty sensitively and completely. We are also committed to addressing formal grievances as privately as possible. While anonymity cannot be assured for a formal grievance, any form of retaliation in response to a grievance is inappropriate and is itself reason enough to initiate a grievance process.

Providing anonymous feedback

The graduate program will solicit anonymous feedback from scholars at the end of the fall and spring semesters via an online form. The feedback will be shared in aggregate with the entire graduate faculty at our end-of-semester meeting. Scholars will be provided with a brief summary of this discussion (with identifying information removed) via the graduate list serv.

Recording a formal grievance

Scholars wishing to record a formal grievance should address a comprehensive, signed written account of the grievance to the Director of Graduate Studies via email. The Graduate Committee will consider the grievance on the basis of the written complaint. The scholar will be offered the option of presenting their case to the committee in person. As part of the grievance review process, the Graduate Committee may consider other sources, including, but not limited to, the primary research mentor and the Graduate Program Coordinator. The Graduate Committee will then inform the scholar of their response to the grievance.

If it is impossible to resolve the grievance within the Graduate Committee or within the broader framework of the Department of Chemistry administrative structure, the Director of Graduate Studies will forward the grievance to the Associate Dean of the Laney Graduate School. From this point forward, the grievance will be handled according to the procedures outlined in the Laney Graduate School handbook. If the issue is with the Director of Graduate studies, the scholar should go directly to the Associate Dean of the Laney Graduate School or the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement.

Understanding the limits of the grievance process

The grievance process is primarily appropriate for academic complaints, broadly defined, related to coursework, exams, milestone requirements, laboratory environment and training, etc. While the graduate program takes the perspective that all aspects of a scholar’s Emory experience may impact their academic work, there are certain instances where it is most appropriate or even required that a scholar reach out to a particular office to officially pursue a concern, complaint, or resource. Scholars should familiarize themselves with the Resource Guidance in the appendix of the handbook for assistance in determining the appropriate office for handling a non-academic concern.

Help for scholars considering recording a grievance

If a scholar cannot determine where to bring a grievance to the attention of the graduate committee, they are encouraged to contact any member of the graduate admin team or, if the issue cannot be comfortably discussed within this structure, the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs of the Laney Graduate School or the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement. Scholars may request to discuss concerns anonymously with any of these individuals. However, scholars should be aware that chemistry and LGS faculty and staff are mandated reporters for Title IX issues and in cases where they believe a member of the community represents a threat to themselves or others.

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