Sep 19, 2020  
Graduate Catalog 2019-20 
    
Graduate Catalog 2019-20 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Student Rights and Responsibilities


 

University Policies, Statements and Procedures

In addition to the several policy statements articulated below, please note that the official location of all University policies in wmich.edu/policies.

Western Michigan University Student Code

The Student Code describes the boundaries of acceptable student behavior and is approved by the Board of Trustees. The Office of Student Conduct interprets and enforces the Student Code, which is found at wmich.edu/conduct/code.

Academic and Research Misconduct

The policies and procedures regarding student academic misconduct may be found in the student Code at http://www.wmich.edu/conduct/code.

The policies and procedures regarding research misconduct may be found at http://wmich.edu/policies/research-misconduct.

Except in situations which have specific additional requirements due to the project’s funding, any student involved in alleged misconduct while conducting research for academic credit will go through the Academic Integrity process managed and facilitated by the Office of Student Conduct.

Animals on Campus

For rules regarding animals on campus, please see the Animals on Campus Policy wmich.edu/policies/animals-on-campus.

Course Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals

Course Grade Appeals

This section applies when a student wants to appeal a final course grade that has been recorded by the Registrar on the student’s academic record. Appeal panels are assembled from the faculty under the authority of and by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or designate. Throughout this process, the Office of the Ombudsman is available to students and instructors for assistance on procedures and clarification of the rights of all parties.

The accepted bases of course grade appeal are:

  1. Grades were calculated or the program dismissal decision was made in a manner inconsistent with the University policy, the syllabus, or changes to the syllabus.
  2. The grade(s) was/were erroneously calculated.
  3. Grading/performance standards were arbitrarily or unequally applied.
  4. The instructor failed to assign or remove an Incomplete or to initiate a grade change as agreed upon with the student.
  5. Late withdrawal from class(es), after grades have been assigned, due to genuine hardship. (Students appealing on this basis should proceed by contacting the Ombuds Office and following the procedures for hardship determination.)

A grade appeal cannot be made in response to a grade penalty assessed as a result of an official finding of responsibility for academic integrity violation(s). Such a finding will have been made through the procedures provided in the academic integrity policy.

The steps to be taken in appealing a grade are:

  1. Informal meeting with instructor: A student is encouraged to begin the appeal process by meeting with the instructor who assigned the grade. Such meetings often help students understand the grading practices of instructors and often lead to resolution of differences over grades.
  2. Written appeal and conference with the academic unit chair/director: A grade appeal must be in writing, in hard copy, and must be submitted to the academic unit chair/director. This appeal must be received by the academic unit chair/director within 20 business days of the last day of the semester or session in which the grade was recorded on a student’s record. The Provost or designate may grant an extension should a genuine hardship arise (i.e., illness, death in the immediate family). The letter must identify the basis of the appeal and must state in detail why the student believes the grade should be changed. Following a conference with the student, the chair/director must respond in writing to the student with a copy to the instructor, their dean, and the Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals Committee (GAPDAC) within 20 business days. In this letter, the chair/director should confirm the meeting with the student, recap their discussion, and state whether the student has an appeal which meets the established criteria (A, B, C, or D above). If the situation appears to meet the criteria for appeal, the chair/unit director may recommend that the instructor reevaluate the student’s work. The chair/director cannot change the student’s grade without the instructor’s agreement. Note: Grade appeals or other complaints based on charges of discrimination or sexual harassment should be taken to the Office of Institutional Equity or other office, pursuant to other University policies and procedures.
  3. Appeal to committee: After the chair has completed the response to the student’s appeal, the student may appeal to the Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals Committee (GAPDAC). This appeal must be initiated within 20 business days completion of step 2. If the student has requested a meeting with the academic unit chair/director and has not been granted such a meeting within 40 business days of the student’s request, the student may then initiate an appeal to GAPDAC. The student will initiate an appeal through the Office of the Ombudsman. When the Ombuds receives an appeal, the Provost or designate will schedule a meeting of GAPDAC using procedures determined by the Professional Concerns Committee (PCC) of the Faculty Senate. The GAPDAC will consist of three members drawn from a pool of faculty established for this purpose. In a grade appeal, both the student(s) and the instructor should provide a written statement describing the situation under consideration. An appearance to provide additional information at the appeal by either the instructor or student(s) may be requested by the appeals committee. A GAPDAC can effectuate a grade change by majority vote. The decision of the hearing panel is final and not subject to appeal.
  4. Instructor unavailable to assign grade: Circumstances may arise which may prevent an instructor from assigning a grade in a timely manner. In such instances, the academic unit chair/director will make reasonable efforts to contact and ask the instructor to supply a grade. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the instructor’s academic chair/director will appoint another qualified faculty member to assign the grade.


Program Dismissal Appeals

This section applies when a student wants to appeal a decision to dismiss the student from an academic program for reasons other than charges of violations of academic integrity policies. Appeal panels are assembled under the authority of and by the designate of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Throughout this process, the Office of the Ombudsman is available to students and instructors for assistance on procedures and clarifications of the rights of all parties.

The accepted bases of program dismissal appeal are:

  1. The program dismissal decision was made in a manner inconsistent with University policy or the program policy.
  2. The program dismissal procedures were not followed.
  3. Evaluation/performance standards were arbitrarily or unequally applied.

The student’s status, as dismissed from the program, will remain unaltered until a successful appeal is completed.

A program dismissal appeal cannot be made in response to an academic integrity or conduct dismissal from the University.

NOTE: A program dismissal appeal based on charges of discrimination or sexual harassment should be taken to the Office of Institutional Equity or other office, pursuant to the other University policies and procedures.

NOTE: A program dismissal based on genuine hardship should be addressed according to the University hardship policies.

When appealing a program dismissal, a student must take the following steps:

  1. Submit a letter requesting an appeal to the academic unit chair/director. This letter must be received by the academic unit chair/director within 20 business days of notice of dismissal from the program. The letter must identify the basis of the appeal and must state in detail why the student believes that dismissal should be reversed and schedule a conference with the department chair/director.
  2. Following a conference with the student, the chair/director must respond in writing to the student with copies to the unit’s dean, the graduate dean, and the Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals Committee (GAPDAC) within 20 business days. In the letter, the chair/director should confirm the meeting with the student, recap their discussion, and state whether the student has as appeal which meets the established criteria above. If the situation appears to meet the criteria for appeal, the chair/director may recommend readmission to the graduate dean.
  3. Should the academic unit fail to provide a timely response or sustain the dismissal, the student may appeal directly to the graduate dean. The graduate dean will readmit the student or sustain dismissal, based on the academic unit’s recommendation or the student’s direct appeal, within 10 business days.
  4. Should the graduate dean uphold the dismissal, the student may appeal to GAPDAC. This appeal must be initiated within 10 business days of the graduate dean’s written decision. The student will initiate an appeal through the Office of the Ombudsman. When the appeal is received, the Provost or designate will schedule a meeting of GAPDAC using procedures determined by the Professional Concerns Committee of the Faculty Senate. The GAPDAC will consist of three members drawn from a panel of faculty established for this purpose. In a program dismissal, the student appellant should attend the meeting of the appeal panel and must provide a written statement describing the ground for appeal. A University representative from the program must attend the meeting and must provide a written statement describing the grounds for and circumstances of dismissal.

A GAPDAC may reverse or sustain a program dismissal by majority vote. The decision of the hearing panel is final and not subject to appeal.

Selection, Training, and Organization of Grade and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee (GAPDAC)

A Grade and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee (GAPDAC) will be drawn from a pool of faculty who are trained under procedures determined by the Professional Concerns Committee (PCC) of the Faculty Senate. For each appeal that requires review, a GAPDAC panel will be selected to hear the appeal and to decide the matter.

Each academic college shall provide a cohort of tenured or tenure-track faculty members to serve on the GAPDAC pool in proportion to its respective student credit hour production. Faculty members will serve three-year terms (with staggered terms for the first GAPDAC pools, to ensure continuity of experience and training). It will be necessary to include in the pool those who can serve during summer sessions.

Each GAPDAC shall be composed of three faculty members, at least one of whom is from the college where the course or program in question resides. Each GAPDAC will elect a faculty member to chair the committee, and each GAPDAC must have all three members present to have a quorum. Procedures for selection of a GAPDAC will be constructed and administered by the PCC.

Faculty Oversight of Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals Committees

The PCC shall function as an oversight committee for reviewing and monitoring all University policies and procedures dealing with grade and program dismissal appeal issues. A report of all GAPDAC activities shall be made to the Faculty Senate Executive Board each year by the PCC, and recommendations for changes in policies and procedures regarding grade and program dismissal appeal issues may be part of that annual report. Such recommendations may result in modifications to these policies and procedures. 

Expedited Re-admission

If a student is dismissed for reasons other than active decision by an academic unit or the Office of Student Conduct, the student has the option to petition the academic unit (or graduate dean if a non-degree student) for expedited re-admission within 10 business days of the dismissal notice. The chair/director of the academic unit shall, within 10 business days, recommend to the graduate dean to re-admit the student immediately, to re-admit the student for a later enrollment period, or to sustain dismissal. For expedited re-admission recommendations, the academic unit may also recommend either Probation status or Extended Probation status to the graduate dean. (Probation status will allow the student up to two enrollments to achieve Good Standing, while Extended Probation will allow one enrollment). If the academic unit fails to make a timely recommendation, degree students may then petition the graduate dean directly. Decisions on expedited re-admission will be made by the graduate dean or designee within 10 business days. Students denied expedited re-admission may still appeal their dismissal through the standard dismissal appeal process.

Should the graduate dean elect to re-admit the student on this expedited basis, a request should be made to the Office of the Registrar. If the student is to be re-admitted for a later enrollment period, the change should be made effective on a date which precludes registration in an earlier enrollment period.

Dissertation/Specialist Project/Thesis Appeals Procedure

If there are differences among the members of a dissertation/specialist project/thesis committee over the approval of the dissertation/specialist project/thesis committee and its oral defense, it shall be the responsibility of the committee to undertake every reasonable effort to resolve these differences and come to a unanimous decision. 

In the event a student wishes to appeal a negative decision by the student’s dissertation/specialist project/thesis committee, the student shall first take the appeal to this same committee, which shall hear the appeal and render a decision. In case the committee cannot reach a unanimous agreement and the student wishes to appeal further a negative decision, a Review Committee shall be established consisting of the dean of the Graduate College, the appropriate academic dean, and the chairperson or director of the unit. The Review Committee shall seek to resolve the controversy without passing on the dissertation/specialist project/thesis committee. The Review Committee handling such a case is limited to procedural actions, such as reconstituting the committee if the case merits it.

Diversity, Multiculturalism, Inclusion, and Non-Discrimination

President’s Statement on Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Inclusion

As the president of Western Michigan University, I am proud to reaffirm our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to our fundamental belief in the dignity and worth of every human being, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical attributes and abilities; and religious, political, cultural, and intellectual ideologies and practices.

It is our differences that enrich the human experience and make us stronger. As members of the WMU community, we carry a collective responsibility to create an environment where every person is appreciated and treated with civility and respect. That responsibility is ours not only because of the vibrant campus culture a diverse community creates, but also because of the power and strength that diverse perspectives, ideas and experiences bring to our society as a whole.

We will always honor higher education’s role as a place that nurtures the open exchange of ideas and advances our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression. However, we abhor attempts to use those freedoms to take us back to a darker time or place. Efforts to threaten, demean, or degrade one of us is an assault against our whole community. The strength of this campus is its people, and we will vehemently guard against expression that is rooted in hatred and the kind of violence that should be abhorrent to every citizen. As an inclusive and welcoming campus, we cannot let such speech or actions go unchallenged.

The Board of Trustees took a significant step in reinforcing our dedication to inclusion by adopting a carefully developed Diversity and Multicultural Action Plan–the DMAP. The plan was intended to provide a framework and guidelines for us to continually update and revise as we work to fulfill the expectations we’ve imposed upon ourselves as well as uphold the laws of our nation. In addition, our University strategic Plan continues to advance, strengthen, and refine our commitment towards building a more diverse and inclusive University community.

Our institutional pledge to promote inclusive behavior is also reflected in the nondiscrimination policy adopted by the Board of Trustees. That policy prohibits discrimination or harassment that violates the law or which constitutes inappropriate or unprofessional limitation of employment opportunity, University facility access, or participation in University activities, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, protected disability, veteran status, height, weight or marital status.

The University complies with applicable laws and regulations and pursues opportunities to engage in efforts within the law to maintain and support an environment that is welcoming to all. We will continue to secure the University’s future success and fulfill the letter and the spirit of the law by:

  • Recruiting students, faculty, and staff from every part of the nation and around the globe;
  • Promoting discussion that is civil, courteous and respectful;
  • Supporting initiatives that help the entire University community appreciate and value the benefits that come from being part of a campus where all are welcomed; and
  • Ensuring that WMU becomes a school of choice by modeling inclusion not exclusion. 


Together, we are stronger as a University and stronger as a campus community.

Edward Montgomery
President

Non-Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct

Western Michigan University prohibits discrimination or harassment which violates the law or which constitutes inappropriate or unprofessional limitation of employment opportunity, University facility access, or participation in University activities, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, protected veteran status, height, weight, or marital status (revised April 2006). Sexual assault, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, stalking, intimate partner violence and other forms of sexual and gender-based harassment are prohibited under Title IX, the Cleary Act and University policy.

Institutional Equity and the designated ADA/Section 504 and Title IX coordinators handle inquires regarding the non-discrimination and sexual misconduct policies. Retaliation against any person or group who makes a good faith complaint, cooperates with an investigation, or participates in a grievance or related processes is prohibited by law.

For more information contact:
Institutional Equity
1903 W. Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5405
(269) 387-6316
www.wmich.edu/equity

For the most up to date version of the Non-Discrimination Policy go to: wmich.edu/policies/non-discrimination.
For the most up to date version of the Sexual Misconduct Policy go to: wmich.edu/policies/sexual-assault.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Office of the Registrar is the institution’s official custodian of educational records. This office also holds the final responsibility in the enforcement of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Specific information may be found at http://wmich.edu/policies/ferpa-policy.

Minors on Campus

WMU has a Policy specifically addressing Programs and Activities Involving Minors. For the most up to date version go to wmich.edu/policies/minors.

WMU’s Office of Pre college Programming provides leadership and direction for individuals, programs and units at Western Michigan University involved in outreach with precollege students. If you are considering or are involved in any such programs and activities involving minors, the University Policy and information on how to participate are located at wmich.edu/precollege.

Reporting Criminal and Unethical Activities

Duty to Report Criminal Acts

The Western Michigan University board of Trustees’ Policy on Duty to Report Criminal Acts is located at wmich.edu/policies/criminal.

President’s Statement on Reporting Illegal and Unethical Activities

(December 8, 2011)

“This has been a fall rife with scandal and underlying tragedy for individuals connected with two of our sister institutions - Penn State and Syracuse. I write to share my views and opinions about the shortcomings illustrated in those situations. This is a topic of discussion and deep concern among all of us on this and every campus in the nation.

In reflecting on these sad and appalling national stories, it is important to reaffirm what I believe are the core responsibilities of every citizen in our University and broader communities. Above and beyond any misplaced desire to protect or preserve the reputation of an individual or an organization, it is imperative that we all remember our primary obligation is to protect and defend those among us who are most vulnerable. In the long run, our reputation and strength as an institution will only be enhanced by our commitment to come to the aid of victims and discipline any individuals who take advantage of the positions of trust in which we have placed them.

If you encounter a situation in which you see someone being victimized, or you encounter something you believe to be a crime, call our Department of Public Safety. Do this first. Afterward you can inform your supervisor. Our public safety officers are trained to determine the facts of any incident. Simply call (269) 387-5555 to alert the proper officials.

As is sometimes the case in any large organization, there may be a time when you hesitate to report a crime, because you worry that you or your position may be vulnerable. Much earlier this year, we decided to enhance our ability to receive information from faculty and staff about possible wrongdoing in a way that would address such concerns. We now have a contract with a highly respected company called Ethics Point that provides an anonymous website to report possible criminal or ethical violations. There is also a phone line that can be used to report wrongdoing. We had intended to publicize this option after the coming holiday break, but because of the timely nature of this tool and a strong statement issued by our Board of Trustees today, I want you to know the system is already in place.

If you feel the need to maintain anonymity and report a situation that is legally or ethically wrong, you may do so by going to wmuhotline.ethicspoint.com, select Make a Report in the top right menu and follow the prompts. To use the phone line, call (855) 247-3145. I suspect - and hope - we may never need this tool, but am mindful that, at nearly 30,000, we are a community the size of a small city and we might have someone who does not meet our exacting standards.

Thank you in advance for your commitment to ensure everything we do is accomplished using the strongest moral, legal, and ethical standards.”

Clery Act Annual Report

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires availability of the annual security and fire safety compliance document to prospective students, faculty, and staff. It can be obtained from the website of Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety wmudps.wmich.edu/AnnualSecurityReport.pdf.

Western Michigan University Expectations for Good Practice in Graduate Education

Professional Rights of Graduate Student Appointees

A portion of students at Western Michigan University have been granted graduate appointments. These graduate appointees serve an academic or service unit within the university. In return for their service they are given a salary, and partial or full tuition remission. Graduate appointees, in addition to having the basic and academic rights mentioned below, also have professional rights. These include meaningful teaching, research, or service responsibilities; clear and reasonable departmental expectations; work activities that average twenty hours per week for a full appointee; approved leaves of absence; and due process in regard to service disputes. The rights of teaching assistants are specifically given in the current Agreement between Western Michigan University and the Teaching Assistants Union (www.tauaft.org ).

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Basic and academic rights and responsibilities are set forth in the Graduate Catalog, the Research Misconduct Policy www.wmich.edu/research/policies/misconduct, the Student Code of Conduct www.wmich.edu/conduct/code, and other policies of Western Michigan University. Basic rights include, but are not limited to, the rights of inquiry, expression, and association; freedom from discrimination and harassment; personal security; freedom from improper disclosure; access to personal records; and participation in university governance. Academic rights include, but are not limited to, the right to be evaluated fairly; to have academic freedom in discussing their subject; to be fully informed by faculty regarding the requirements of each class and course of study; and to have access to and explanations of all graded materials.

Along with rights come responsibilities. Students at WMU are required to conduct themselves in a mature, professional, ethical, and civil manner. This includes engaging in academic honesty and ethical research conduct.  In the academic arena, students are expected not to engage in such behaviors as cheating; fabrication, falsification, or forgery; multiple submissions; plagiarism; computer misuse; and complicity with others regarding such offenses. While conducting research, students are expected to maintain the same standards as they apply to the design of studies, treatment of subjects, collection of data, and reporting of that data. A complete listing of responsibilities is detailed in university policies.   

Graduate students must:

  • Conduct themselves appropriately in all interactions with faculty and staff in accordance with the accepted standards of the discipline and WMU policies governing discrimination and harassment. 
  • Take primary responsibility to inform themselves of regulations, rules, and policies governing their graduate studies and research at WMU. 
  • Recognize that faculty and staff have many professional responsibilities, in addition to graduate education.  
  • Recognize that the faculty have broad discretion to allocate their own time and other resources in ways that are academically productive. 
  • Recognize that the faculty adviser, who provides the intellectual and instructional environment in which that student plans a program of study, may be involved with research for which the student provides assistance, and that the University, through the faculty advisor’s access to teaching and research funds, may also provide the student with special financial support for that research.  
  • Expect that a student’s research results, with the appropriate recognition, may be incorporated into progress reports, summary documents, applications for continuation for funding, and similar documents authored by the faculty advisor.  
  • Recognize that the faculty advisor is responsible for monitoring the accuracy, creativity, validity, and integrity of the student’s research. Careful, well-conceived research reflects favorably on the student, the faculty advisor, the degree program, and WMU. 
  • Exercise the highest integrity in taking examinations, completing master’s, specialist’s, and doctoral projects, and/or collecting, analyzing, and presenting research data in theses, dissertations, and presentations. 
  • As applicable to the student’s degree program, acknowledge contributions of the faculty advisor and other members of the research team to the student’s work in all publications and conference presentations; acknowledgment may mean co-authorship when that is appropriate. 
  • Recognize that in some disciplines, the faculty advisor will determine when a body of work is ready for publication, exhibition or performance, and is an acceptable product, since the faculty advisor bears responsibility for overseeing the performance of the students and ensuring the validity of any applicable research. 
  • Maintain the confidentiality of the faculty advisor’s professional activities and research prior to presentations and/or publication, in accordance with existing practices and policies of the discipline and the University. 
  • Be allowed the opportunity to participate in the governance of the University as designated by the Graduate Student Association for representation on the councils of the Faculty Senate. They shall also have representation at the departmental level, in faculty meetings and on standing committees, (e.g., policy, hiring, graduate issues), except in cases where confidential personnel matters are under consideration.   
  • When serving as teaching assistants, abide by the academic regulations of the University and be afforded the rights of an instructor, including the protection of academic freedom.
  • Cooperate and assist in any investigations as requested by the University.


Correspondingly, it is imperative that faculty:

  • Interact with students in a professional and civil manner in accordance with the accepted standards of the discipline and Western Michigan University’s policies governing discrimination and harassment. 
  • Impartially evaluate student performance, regardless of the graduate student’s religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or other criteria as established by law, the collective bargaining agreement, and/or University policies.   
  • Serve on graduate student committees without regard to the religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or other criteria as established by law, the collective bargaining agreement, and/or University policies.   
  • Prevent personal rivalries with colleagues from interfering with their duties as graduate advisors, committee members, directors of graduate studies, or colleagues. 
  • Avoid dual relationships that could impair their professional judgment. They will excuse themselves from serving as advisors on graduate committees or supervising assistantship work when there is a financial, familial, friendship, or other close personal relationship that could result in a conflict of interest.   
  • Acknowledge any student contributions to research and/or creative activity presented at conferences, in professional publications, or in applications for copyrights and patents. 
  • Not impede a graduate student’s progress and completion of his/her degree in order to benefit from the student’s proficiency as a teaching or research assistant. 
  • Create in the classroom, lab, or studio, supervisory relations with students that stimulate and encourage students to learn creatively and independently. 
  • Have a clear understanding with graduate students about their specific academic, creative activity, and/or research responsibilities, including time lines for completion of comprehensive examinations, research, and the thesis or dissertation, as applicable. 
  • Provide oral and written comments and evaluation of each student’s work in a timely manner.  
  • Assist the departmental director of graduate studies in an annual review of graduate students’ progress. 
  • Discuss laboratory, departmental and authorship policy with graduate students in advance of entering into collaborative projects.  
  • Ensure an absence of coercion with regard to the participation of graduate students as human research subjects in their faculty advisors’ research.
  • Be aware of the responsibilities inherent in the faculty-student relationship and avoid dual relationships that may exploit students by virtue of their authority. Faculty who have a direct teaching or advising relationship with a student are prohibited from requesting that a student do personal work (e.g., errands) with or without appropriate compensation.
  • Familiarize themselves with policies that affect their graduate students. 
  • Evaluate students’ progress and performance in regular and informative ways consistent with timely completion of the degree. 
  • Cooperate and assist in any investigations as requested by the University.

Transmission of Knowledge in Graduate Education

Graduate education is structured around the generation and transmission of knowledge at the highest level. In many cases, graduate students depend upon faculty advisors to assist them in identifying and gaining access to financial and/or intellectual resources that support their graduate programs. In addition, faculty advisors and department administrators must apprise students of the “job market” so that students can develop realistic expectations for the outcomes of their studies.

In some academic units, the student’s specific advisor may change during the course of the student’s program. The role of advising may also change and become a mentoring relationship.

The reward of finding a faculty advisor implies that the student has achieved a level of excellence and sophistication in the field or exhibits sufficient promise to merit the more intensive interest, instruction, and counsel of faculty. 

To this end, graduate students must:

  • Devote an appropriate amount of time and energy toward achieving academic excellence and earning an advanced degree.  
  • Be aware of time constraints and other demands imposed on faculty members and program staff. 
  • Take the initiative to ask questions that promote understanding of the academic subjects and advances in the field. 
  • Communicate regularly with faculty advisors, particularly in matters related to research and progress within the graduate program and with any teaching responsibilities. 


Correspondingly, faculty advisors should:

  • Provide clear guidelines for all requirements each student must meet, including course work, languages, research tools, examinations, thesis or dissertation, teaching/laboratory assistantships, and delineating the amount of time expected to complete each step. 
  • Evaluate student progress and performance in regular and informative ways consistent with the practice in the field. 
  • Help students develop interpretive, writing, oral, and quantitative skills, in accordance with the expectations of the discipline and the specific degree program. 
  • Assist graduate students in the development of grant writing skills, where appropriate. 
  • Take reasonable measures to ensure that graduate students who initiate thesis or dissertation research/creative activity do so in a timely fashion, regardless of the overall demand of assistantships in the laboratory, studio, or classroom. 
  • When appropriate, encourage graduate students to participate in professional meetings or display their work in public forums and exhibitions. 
  • Stimulate in each graduate student an appreciation of professional skills they will be required to master in their respective disciplines, i.e., teaching, administration, research, writing, and creativity. 
  • Create an ethos of collegiality so that learning takes place within a community of scholars.

In academic units, faculty advisors support the academic promise of graduate students in their programs. In some cases, academic advisors are assigned to entering graduate students to assist them in academic advising and other matters. In other cases, students select faculty advisors in accordance with the disciplinary interest or research expertise of faculty. Advising is variant in its scope and breadth and may be accomplished in many ways. 

A student’s academic performance and faculty member’s scholarly interest may coincide during the course of instruction and research/creative activity/performance. As the faculty-graduate student relationship matures and intensifies, direct collaboration may involve the sharing of authorship or right to intellectual property developed in research or other creative activity. Such collaborations are encouraged and are a desired outcome of the mentoring process.   

It is understood that the standards of mentoring may differ by department, depending on the degree(s) students are pursuing and the availability of the time that students who work as professionals in communities outside Kalamazoo have to consult with their advisors. Nevertheless, it is recommended that advisement, consultation and mentoring be nurtured via electronic means if they cannot be nurtured in person. 

It is further understood that the department must establish appropriate policies and practices to assist students whose major advisor or committee member is no longer able to serve in that capacity. Graduate students assigned to participate in externally funded research grants must become aware of the special importance of completing their research commitments. These commitments extend beyond financial concerns to encompass issues of professional ethics, legal compliance with external authorities, and institutional loyalty. 

Note: Western Michigan University wishes to thank the University of Missouri at Columbia for permission to use portions of their graduate code.

Western Michigan University Adjudication of Situations Involving Graduate Students’ Rights and Responsibilities

1.0 Academic Rights and Responsibilities

Whenever a graduate student has been accused of behavior that is in violation of academic regulations, the existing Graduate Catalog governs the adjudication of the accusation.   

2.0 Basic Rights and Responsibilities

Whenever a graduate student has been accused of behavior that is in violation of non-academic regulations, the University Student Code governs the adjudication. The Research Misconduct Policy governs the adjudication of alleged violations of ethical research behavior.   

In addition to the rights and responsibilities of all graduate students, there are rights and responsibilities that pertain specifically to graduate students who are serving on appointments. These appointments include doctoral associateships, doctoral fellowships, graduate assistantships, and graduate fellowships. Because of the special nature of the relationship between a graduate appointee and the faculty members in the department being served, there are additional requirements.

3.0 Professional Rights and Responsibilities of Graduate Appointees

This resolution process governs matters other than those governed by the Graduate Catalog, the Student Code and/or the Research Misconduct Policy.  

Graduate appointees serve the University through appointments that are awarded by the departments/schools under the sponsorship of Academic Affairs and the Graduate College. Therefore, the path to resolving certain disputes resides first with the department/school and next with the Graduate College.   

For graduate appointees with a teaching classification, the terms of the current Agreement between Western Michigan University and the Teaching Assistants Union (www.tauaft.org) regarding grievance and arbitration procedures (Article 15) will supercede the policy given below.

3.1 Departmental/School Level. Resolution of issues at the departmental/school level may be handled informally. If disputes arise between graduate appointees and their departments, both should attempt to resolve them in informal, direct discussions. If the problem remains unresolved, then the unit administrator should be consulted. If still aggrieved, a student may then submit a formal, written request for consideration by the Department/School Hearing Board. The Department/School Hearing Board shall be comprised of the unit administrator or designee, two faculty members, and two graduate students from the department. The faculty members are to be selected by the department. One graduate student is to be selected by the departmental graduate student organization and a second graduate student by the Graduate Student Association. Where no departmental graduate student organization exists, both students will be selected by the Graduate Student Association. If the unit administrator is directly involved in the case, neither the unit administrator nor the designee may serve on the hearing board. In such cases, the office of the Dean of the Graduate College will appoint a replacement member. 

3.2 Graduate College Level. The Graduate College shall establish a hearing board comprised of a representative of the Academic College as designated by the Dean of that College, the Dean of the Graduate College or designee, the President of the Graduate Student Association or designee, one faculty member from the department in question, and one student chosen by the Graduate Student Association. 

3.3 A member who has faculty rank from a unit not involved with the dispute shall chair each hearing board.   

3.4 Term of Office. Hearing board members at both levels shall be selected in the fall of the year and shall serve one year. The one-year term shall not preclude reappointment of any member the following year. 

3.5 The formal request alleging violations of professional rights must include a proposed remedy that could be implemented by a responsible administrator. The department/school, within the limits of its resources and the limits imposed by due respect for the professional rights of the faculty, seeks an appropriate remedy for legitimate student complaints.   

3.6 Written requests for a hearing must be initiated no later than mid-term of the semester or the end of the session following the term wherein the alleged violation occurred. The appropriate Hearing Board may grant an exception to this provision if the involved party or student is absent from the University during that session. 

3.7 The student initiating the grievance may request the hearing at the Department/School level. Under special circumstances (with approval of the Graduate College) the resolution of an issue may begin at the Graduate College level.   

3.8 Hearing Boards shall establish their own procedures in a manner consistent with this document. A copy of the procedures adopted by each unit shall be filed with the appropriate academic Dean’s office and with the office of the Dean of the Graduate College. 

3.9 Upon receipt of a formal request, the chairperson of the Hearing Board shall transmit a copy of the grievance within ten (10) class days to the Hearing Board members and to the person(s) party to the matter. 

3.10 In urgent cases in which it is alleged that a regulation, administrative decision or action threatens immediate and irreparable damage to any of the parties involved, the Hearing Board or judiciary shall expedite the hearing and final disposition of the case.   

3.11 A Hearing Board or judiciary is empowered to act on a request to direct an individual or unit to discontinue or postpone an administrative decision or action that threatens immediate and irreparable damage to any of the parties involved, pending final disposition of the case. The Hearing Board shall expedite the hearing and final disposition of this urgent case. 

3.12 A department/school or college Hearing Board shall review each hearing request for jurisdiction and judicial merit and may then forward a copy of the request to the appropriate individual and invite a written response. After considering all submitted information, the board may:

a. Accept the request, in full or in part, and proceed to schedule a hearing.
b. Reject the request and provide an appropriate explanation.
c. Invite all parties to meet with the board for an informal discussion of the issues. Such a discussion shall not preclude a later hearing.

3.13 Notice of hearing. At least three (3) days prior to a formal hearing, both the respondent and the complainant shall be entitled to a written notification of the hearing from the appropriate hearing body. This notice of hearing shall state:

  1. The nature of the issues, charges and/or conflicts to be heard with sufficient particularity to enable both the respondent and the complainant to prepare their respective cases.
  2. The date, time and place of the hearing.
  3. The body adjudicating the case.
  4. The names of the respondent and complainant.
  5. The name(s) of any potential witnesses.

3.14 Either the complainant or the respondent may request, with cause, a postponement prior to the scheduled time of a hearing. The Hearing Board may grant or deny such a request. 

3.15 Both the respondent and the complainant shall be expected to appear at the hearing and present their cases.

  1. Should the complainant fail to appear, the board may either postpone the hearing or dismiss the case.
  2. Should the respondent fail to appear, the board may either postpone the hearing if good cause has been given for the failure to appear or hear the case in his or her absence.
  3. The judiciary may accept written statements from a party to the hearing in lieu of a personal appearance, but only in unusual circumstances. Such written statements must be submitted to the board at least one (1) day prior to the scheduled hearing. 

3.16 Hearing Boards shall ensure that a collegial atmosphere prevails in hearings. Involvement of counsel should normally not be required. When present, counsel shall be limited to a member of the student body, faculty, or staff of the University. 

3.17 During the hearing, parties to a complaint shall have an opportunity to state their cases, present evidence, designate witnesses, ask questions, and present a rebuttal. 

3.18 The Hearing Board shall prepare a written report of findings and rationale for the decision and shall forward copies to the parties involved, to the responsible administrator(s), and to the Dean of the Graduate College. The report shall indicate the major elements of evidence, or lack thereof, which support the Hearing Board’s decision. All recipients are expected to respect the confidentiality of this report. When a Hearing Board finds that a violation of professional rights has occurred and that redress is possible, it shall direct the responsible administrator to provide redress. The administrator, in consultation with the Hearing Board, shall implement an appropriate remedy.   

3.19 Appeals. The decision of the original Hearing Board is final, except in cases which result in a recommendation of termination of appointment. In such cases the decision may be appealed by either party to a grievance only to the next level Hearing Board. If the original hearing was by a department/school Hearing Board, the appeal shall be made to the Graduate College Hearing Board. If the original hearing was by the Graduate College Hearing Board, the appeal should be made to the Graduate Studies Council. In such cases, a subcommittee of the Graduate Studies Council shall be appointed by the chair of the council and shall include the chair as well as one council member and a graduate student serving on the council.  

3.20 Appeals must allege either that applicable procedures for adjudicating the case were not followed in the previous hearing or that the findings of the Hearing Board were not supported by the preponderance of the evidence. Presentation of new evidence will not be permitted at an appeal hearing. All appeals must be written and signed and must specify the alleged defects in the previous adjudication(s) in sufficient detail to justify further proceedings. The appeal must also specify the redress that is sought. 

3.21 Appeals must be filed within ten (10) class days following a notice of a decision. Any action regarding the original decision shall be held in abeyance while under appeal. 

3.22 The appellate board shall review each appeal request and may then forward a copy of the request to the appropriate individual and invite a written response. After considering all submitted information, the appellate board may

  1. Decide that sufficient reasons for an appeal do not exist and that the decision of the lower hearing body shall stand;
  2. Direct the lower hearing body to rehear the case or to reconsider or clarify its decision; or
  3. Decide that sufficient reasons exist for an appeal and accept the request, in full or in part, and proceed to schedule an appeal hearing.

3.23 Following an appeal hearing, an appellate board may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the lower hearing body. 

3.24 Any intimidation or retaliation against a graduate student, including but not limited to actions which negatively impact the student’s grades or appointment status, solely for raising an issue concerning his/her appointment, questioning assignments or duties, and/or initiating or participating in proceedings under this policy, is strictly forbidden. Any person confirmed to have so intimidated or retaliated will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.   

3.25 Nothing in this process shall be construed to be considered a contract between the graduate student and the University, and/or to supersede or negate other University policies, procedures, and/or contractual requirements. 

Note: Western Michigan University wishes to thank Michigan State University for permission to adapt portions of their graduate adjudication process.