A grievance is defined as a complaint arising out of any alleged unauthorized or unjustified act or decision by a member of the University community which in any way adversely affects the status, rights, or privileges of a member of the University community.
Formal and informal procedures for resolving grievances are available both within the School of Social Work and at the University level through the Community Rights and Responsibilities unit in the Dean of Students Office and the Provost Office. The School and the University encourage informal resolution of disputes whenever possible before seeking resolution through formal procedures. In general, formal grievances initiated prior to attempting informal resolution will be rejected for review by the School’s Student Concerns Committee and Community Rights and Responsibilities. Exceptions are granted only when the faculty, staff member, or student has demonstrated that attempting an informal resolution is impossible. The School and the University also encourage disputants to attempt to resolve grievances within the School prior to engaging the University grievance process, whenever possible. Grievances fall into one of two categories, student-initiated or school-initiated dispositional concerns.
There are four types of student-initiated grievances:
1. Grade dispute: a student disputes a grade received for a course.
2. Non-grade dispute: a student alleges a dispute or conflict not related to grades.
3. Discrimination allegation: a student alleges intolerance or discriminatory behavior.
4. Field Placement Conflict: a student alleges that conditions in the field placement
make satisfactory completion of the placement difficult or impossible.
There are two types of school-initiated dispositional concerns.
1. Academic performance: a faculty member, staff member, or field instructor raises a concern about a student’s academic integrity. (See Faculty Referral for Academic Dishonesty for CRR policy and procedures.)
2. Non-grade performance: a faculty member, staff member, or field instructor raises a concern about a student’s non-academic performance (i.e., violation of the NASW Code of Ethics, the Illinois Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act, or ISU Student Code of Conduct, or illegal behavior).
The informal and formal procedures for each of the dispositional concerns listed above are described below. Flow charts for these procedures are located at the end of this document. (See Appendix A, Informal Grievance Procedure and Appendix B, Formal Grievance Procedure.)
The School Student Concerns Committee hears and attempts to resolve disputes associated with both student-initiated and school-initiated grievances. The Committee is comprised of the Director of the School of Social Work, the relevant (BSW or MSW) Program Director, the Director of Field Education, and the relevant (BSW or MSW) Director of Student Services. The Director of Student Services serves as a student advocate and, therefore, is a non-voting member. The Student Concerns Committee convenes as needed. When it is convened, the Committee is chaired by the director of the program associated with the complaint, (i.e., BSW Program Director, MSW Program Director, or Director of Field Education).
When a student disputes a final grade, they must follow the University policy which can be found at the Provost website at : http://provost.illinoisstate.edu/students/
Appeals to final grades must be made to the Department Chair/School Director.
If a student wants to grieve a grade other than the final grade, the student should seek an informal resolution with the faculty member, prior to filing a formal grievance. If this proves unsuccessful, it is strongly recommended that the student next seek informal resolution through discussion with the School’s Director of Student Services (DSS) who may involve the relevant program director (i.e., MSW Program Director, BSW Program Director, Director of Field Education; or the Director of the School of Social Work). If these additional attempts at informal resolution also are unsuccessful, the student may file a formal grievance with the School of Social Work.
In formal grievances, the burden of proof is on the student to show that the action taken against him/her was without justification or basic fairness and resulted in negative consequences for the student.
In the School of Social Work faculty have discretion whether or not to change a grade. The School Student Concerns Committee may recommend solutions to the dispute, but the faculty member makes the final decision whether she or he will implement any of the Committee’s recommendations.
A student may have a conflict with a staff or faculty member that is not related to grades, or encounter significant conflict with another student. Other than disputes related to harassment or discrimination, such conflicts may be addressed in the following ways.
When a grievance is alleged to be based on some form of intolerance or discriminatory behavior, the Office for Diversity and Affirmative Action (ODAA) serves as the first point of review. The Director of Student Services refers discrimination allegations to the Office for Diversity and Affirmative active. The student also can bring a grievance directly to ODAA. Their number is 438-3383, and their web address is http://www.diversity.ilstu.edu/ (See also the Dean of Students website at https://deanofstudents.illinoisstate.edu/conflict/resolution/
Specific grievance procedures apply when a conflict is related to the field placement. Students experiencing any kind of difficulty during their field placement should follow the problem solving procedures delineated below. The process is essential when a placement may be in jeopardy.
Central to the problem solving process for field placement conflicts is the Placement Improvement Plan (PIP). A Placement Improvement Plan (PIP) may be initiated by any involved party (i.e., the student, the agency-based field instructor, the faculty liaison, or the Director of Field Education). The PIP is the first step in working toward problem resolution while in a field placement. The earlier a problem is identified, the sooner a resolution can be agreed upon. In this spirit, students who are experiencing any type of difficulty in the field placement are encouraged to use the PIP procedure. The PIP is included as an appendix in both the MSW and BSW field manuals.
1. First, discuss the problem in an issue-oriented manner with the field instructor.
2. Second, using the PIP, discuss the problem and attempt to resolve it at the agency level with the faculty liaison. It is the student’s responsibility to discuss the situation with both the field instructor and the faculty liaison who may involve the Director of Field Education to resolve the dispute.
3. Third, a meeting will be scheduled within 14 days of the initiation of the PIP.
4. Once the PIP has been developed and a plan of action agreed upon including specification of the dates when the conditions of the PIP must be met, all parties must sign the PIP.
5. The PIP will be submitted to the Director of Student Services who will place a copy of the document in the student’s file and give the student a copy. The DSS also will send a copy to the field instructor, the faculty liaison, and the Director of Field Education.
6. A follow up meeting will be scheduled to determine whether sufficient progress has been made. If so, the placement will continue, generally with a new learning contract. If there has not been sufficient progress, the Director of Field Education will meet with student and the faculty liaison to determine if alternative placement will be pursued on behalf of the student
7. If a satisfactory action plan cannot be agreed on or the student disagrees with the School’s decision, the student may then fill out the School Grievance Form and submit it to the Director of Student Services to initiate a formal grievance, or may file a complaint with the Office of Community Rights and Responsibilities.
A faculty member, staff member, or field instructor may raise a concern about a student’s academic honesty. If the complainant determines that the academic dishonesty was deliberate, University policy mandated by the Academic Senate requires that the faculty/staff member refer the student to Community Rights and Responsibilities for academic dishonesty. The faculty member is barred from taking action (e.g., failing the student) until CRR has investigated and determined the appropriate consequences, if any. The faculty member must follow the procedures outlined in the Faculty Referral for Academic Dishonesty that includes the criteria for academic dishonesty and outlines the process.
If a faculty member determines that the student’s behavior was the result of a misunderstanding about proper procedures or the faculty/staff member’s instructions, the faculty member has discretion to negotiate a resolution with the student. If the student is dissatisfied with the faculty member’s decision (e.g., require and additional assignment, assign a lower grade), he or she may file a grievance with the School Student Concerns Committee through the Director of Student Services, or may pursue the grievance through Community Rights and Responsibilities.
A faculty member, staff member, or field instructor may raise a concern about a student’s non-grade performance (i.e., violation of the NASW Code of Ethics, the Illinois Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act, or ISU Student Code of Conduct, or illegal behavior).
University policy mandates that when a student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) falls below a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale, he or she is placed on academic probation. At the end of any semester, except for summer session, when a student’s cumulative GPA is below a 2.0 a second or subsequent time, he or she is dismissed from the University. A student who is academically dismissed from the University is automatically dropped from the BSW Program. Students whose GPA fall below 2.5 may be terminated from the major.
A student may petition to be reinstated in the University. If reinstated the student will be classified as a General Student and receive academic advisement from the University College Academic Advisement Center. In order to return to the BSW after being dropped, the student must reapply to and be accepted by the BSW Program.
A student also may be terminated from the BSW program and or the University for academic dishonesty. All charges of academic dishonesty are referred to Community Rights and Responsibilities in the Dean of Students Office for resolution
A student also may be terminated from the BSW program for unacceptable performance (i.e., violation of the NASW Code of Ethics or the Illinois Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act, violation of the ISU Student Code of Conduct, or illegal behavior. If the grievance cannot be resolved informally, a formal grievance will be forwarded to the School Student Concerns Committee by the BSW Program Director. If the School Student Concerns Committee determines that the grievance is serious enough to warrant termination from the BSW program, the Director of the School of Social Work will send the student a letter of termination from the program and the reasons for it within 7 days of the Committee’s determination.
GraduateSchool policy requires that a student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for graduate work at ISU to be in academic good standing. Students who fail to meet this requirement will either be terminated from that degree program or placed on academic probation by the GraduateSchool. The School of Social Work may recommend that the GraduateSchool place the student on academic probation for a period of time not to exceed two semesters (including summer if enrolled) OR for a number of credit hours not to exceed 12 credits to raise the GPA to the required standard. A student who fails to bring the cumulative GPA up to a minimum 3.0 during the probationary period will be terminated from the MSW Program by the GraduateSchool. The MSW Program Director will submit a Request for Termination Form with a rationale for the request to the graduate college.
A student may be terminated from the MSW program and or the University for academic dishonesty. All charges of academic dishonesty are referred to Community Rights and Responsibilities in the Dean of Students Office for resolution.
A student also may be terminated from the MSW program for unacceptable non-academic performance (i.e., violations of the NASW Code of Ethics or the Illinois Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act, and violations of the ISU Student Code of Conduct, or illegal behavior. If the grievance cannot be resolved informally, a formal grievance will be forwarded to the School Student Concerns Committee by the MSW Program Director. If the School Student Concerns Committee determines the behavior is sufficiently serious it may recommend termination from the program. The MSW Program Director then will submit a Request for Termination Form with a rationale for the request to the GraduateCollege. Graduate students are admitted to specific degree programs. Dismissal from the MSW Program constitutes dismissal from the University.
The University level grievance information can be found in the Code of Student Conduct located at the Dean of Students website.