Graduate Student Mediation Procedure

University of Maryland Graduate School, Baltimore (UMGSB)

The purpose of this procedure is to establish a committee that will mediate disputes between graduate students and the faculty and/or administration of the program in which the student is enrolled. The UMGSB, UMBC Mediation Committee (MC) is composed of three experienced faculty members, appointed by the dean of the Graduate School for a period of two years* and two full-time graduate students appointed each year by the Graduate Student Association. The MC provides mediation when major disagreements or differences of opinion arise between a graduate student and his/her advisor and/or other members of a graduate program that (a) cannot be resolved successfully at the program level; (b) are serious enough in nature to jeopardize a student's ability to complete his/her education; and (c) are not covered by other policies.

This mediation procedure** covers potential major differences of opinion and/or disagreements with faculty advisors that may occur during a graduate student's career as a student or as a graduate assistant.

To avoid the appearance of or actual conflict of interest, none of the faculty members of the MC may be either a chairperson of a department or a graduate program director (GPD). Further, either party to the grievance may request that a member of the MC be substituted on the grounds that said member has a conflict of interest.

It is recognized that disagreements between students and their advisors occur during the course of a student's graduate career. In most cases, such problems can and should be worked out by the student, the advisor and the GPD, possibly with the assistance of the student's dissertation committee and/or chairperson of the department. If this is not possible, however, the situation should be brought to the attention of the associate dean of the Graduate School, who will, in turn, inform the MC. The MC then will begin a fact-finding inquiry to try to determine the nature of the disagreement. The MC will provide all parties an opportunity for full consideration of their positions and ensure that all relevant Graduate School rules and guidelines are followed. The MC then will assist the student, advisor and program to develop a strategy to resolve the situation.

The UMGSB and UMBC expressly state that reprisals against students for filing grievances are prohibited.

Procedures

  1. The student must first inform his/her GPD that a serious problem exists. It is the director's responsibility to review the situation and to attempt to resolve it according to the rules and guidelines of the program and any Graduate School rules or guidelines that are applicable. The GPD may review the situation with the chairperson of the department in an attempt to resolve the issues in conflict.

  2. In the event that the advisor is also the GPD or the chairperson, the program should select another graduate faculty member or form a committee of graduate faculty members from within the program to mediate the problem.

  3. If efforts at the program level fail to resolve the situation or if the program fails to act, the student then may contact the associate dean of the Graduate School. The student should present the problem to the associate dean in writing, describing the situation in detail, outlining what was done at the program level to attempt a resolution and the desired remedy. The student should file notice of the grievance with the associate dean within 30 calendar days of the time the departmental efforts to mediate the situation had failed.

  4. The associate dean will provide the student's statement to the MC to be acted upon at its next monthly meeting. The MC will request information, also to be submitted in writing, from the GPD and/or the chairperson, stating the program's position and describing the efforts that were made to resolve the situation. The advisor may also provide input at this time, but such input must be submitted through the GPD. The MC may solicit other information and take written testimony from students and faculty during the fact-finding portion of the inquiry.

  5. The MC will review all relevant material provided by the student, GPD and chairperson. The MC may request additional information and/or meet with the parties involved. Upon completion of its review, the MC will make recommendations for resolution of the situation in writing to the associate dean of the Graduate School.

  6. The associate dean will make a written ruling based upon the recommendations of the MC within two weeks of its receipt and establish any sanctions commensurate with the offense, if any. The decision and action of the associate dean as well as the MC recommendations will be conveyed in writing to the student, the faculty member, the GPD and the chair of the department. The student and/or faculty member may appeal the decision of the associate dean. Such an appeal should be made in writing and should state reasons for the appeal to the dean of the Graduate School within 30 calendar days of the receipt of the associate dean's ruling. The final decision as to the appropriate resolution of all cases will rest with the dean of the Graduate School. The dean will endeavor to make a decision on the appeal within 10 days after its receipt.

  7. If an MC member is involved in the controversy before it reaches consideration of the MC, the associate dean will name an alternate to the MC to replace the member involved in the situation.

  8. Times stated in these procedures will be shortened, if feasible, when circumstances are relevant to an advancement decision. Times stated in these procedures will be extended when circumstances do not permit student, faculty or administrative actions within the specified time frames. The associate dean shall make all decisions to shorten or extend the schedules, but the associate dean may not require that the dean decide on an appeal within a certain time. The associate dean's decisions with respect to scheduling shall be final.

* Initially, the three faculty members will be appointed to staggered terms, as follows: one to a term of one year and two to a term of two years. This will provide for overlapping terms in subsequent years.

** Note, for example, that instances of alleged arbitrary and capricious grading, sexual harassment, student academic misconduct and other misconduct are dealt with under other Graduate School policies or campus policies.