Grievance Processes

The grievance processes currently in place vary based on the type of grievance and the desire by theperson pursuing the grievance to handle it informally or formally. Below is an outline of the options.

Internal Processes

The vast majority of concerns, issues or grievances of Carter School students are handled through informal channels. Specific channels for grievance include the Dean, Associate Dean, Director of Undergraduate Student Services, Associate Director of Graduate Student Services and Undergraduate and Graduate Program Directors. In addition to the individuals in these specific roles, many grievances are initially addressed by faculty advisors or other members of the staff. Our informal processes utilize collaborative problem-solving and student empowerment tools or options to address issues.

Additionally, concerns -regarding courses and course formats can be addressed through the mid-term evaluation and the final course evaluations. All Carter School professors are encouraged to conduct mid-term evaluation which provides a tool for students to give feedback to faculty on what may not be working. This allows for adjustment during the semester. The final evaluation provides feedback to both the faculty and the administration of the school to identify potential problems.

Formal Processes: Equal Opportunity/Discrimination

If a member of the Carter School community believes they are the victim of discrimination, or has information about discrimination in the university community, they may promptly submit the facts of the incident and the names of those involved to Compliance, Diversity and Ethics (CDE).

CDE ensures and monitors Mason’s compliance with Federal and Commonwealth of Virginia non-discrimination laws. CDE will review the complaint and determine the appropriate next steps. All complaints of discrimination will be treated in the strictest confidence possible.

To voice a complaint, students will be directed to fill out an intake form, email CDEor call the office at (703) 993-8730. Once submitted, the student will meet with a member of the CDE team to discuss concerns. Upon filing an intake form and meeting with CDE, they will make a threshold determination as to whether the allegation(s) contained in the complaint may constitute a violation of university policy. This threshold determination will be made within five (5) business days of the intake meeting.

For the complete grievance procedure, including time frames and the CDE appeal process, please refer to the EO/AA Grievance Procedure document (PDF)This procedure applies to all Mason faculty, staff, students, university contractors, vendors and visitors.

Formal Processes: Gender-based Harassment or Sexual Assault

Title IX covers all university students, faculty, staff and applicants who have or may have encountered sexual misconduct.

There is no time limit for reporting prohibited conduct to the university under this policy.  If the respondent is no longer a student or an employee, the university will provide reasonably appropriate remedial measures, assist the complainant in identifying external reporting options, and take reasonable steps to eliminate prohibited conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects.  Complainants may simultaneously pursue criminal and university complaints.

Carter School faculty and staff are trained to follow university policy for reporting and provide students with university resources. Grievances will be referred to the Title IX Office,
Fairfax Campus, Compliance, Diversity and Ethics, 373 Aquia Building, Phone: 703-993-8730,

To submit a report of Sexual or Interpersonal Misconduct to the university, the following form will be used: Title IX Reporting Form.

Other Grievances

In cases that are not related to discrimination or harassment, formal grievances are presented to the Carter School Dean. Grievances may be submitted to the Carter School using Mason’s grievance form. Each year a randomized list of faculty is developed to serve on grievance committees as the need arises. Faculty involved in the grievance will be skipped on the list and the next faculty member selected to serve. Faculty can voluntarily recuse themselves from a particular grievance and the next member of the list is selected. This committee evaluates the grievance and determines the appropriate University or Carter School process to best address the issue.

If a grievance is related to the Carter School Dean, it would be formally submitted to the Provost.

Formal Processes: Grade Appeals

Although faculty members are generally the best judges of student performance, there may be times when a student believes a grade is unfair.  Grade appeals follow a process outlined in the University Catalog.

Also review the Graduate Student Handbook: CONF 1.9.3 Grade Changes and Appeals

Appeals of Academic Decisions

The policies of the Carter School are designed to be consistent, equitable, and transparent. Our staff and faculty strive to be thorough, timely, and open to answer any questions students may have regarding our decisions and/or the process through which they were reached. Students seeking clarification and explanation of the decision should request an appointment with an academic advisor in the student’s degree program to discuss their concerns.

Students have the right to appeal decisions regarding requests for academic actions. This step can only be taken after a request to meet with the Program Director. Students who wish to pursue an appeal after this meeting should do so only if they can provide sufficient and compelling reasons for their initial claim to be reconsidered. Such reasons include newly available documentation, proof of an irregularity in procedures, proof of inequity or inconsistency, or consequences so serious that further review is warranted. A student’s dissatisfaction or disagreement with the decision does not constitute sufficient reason for a decision to be changed. Appeals are first reviewed by the Program Director. If denied, the appeal is forwarded to the Dean. The decision of the Dean is the final decision of the college.

If the appeal is a case involving a college-level policy, the Dean serves as the final point of appeal. If the appeal involves university level policies, students must first complete the college-level appeal process before appealing to the Provost’s Office.

Review the Provost’s Office Graduate Student Academic Appeal Process.