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Washington State University Graduate School

Chapter 12E: Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities

The Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities document describes procedures for channeling graduate student complaints, grievances, and concerns to faculty, staff and administrators for appropriate action. In conjunction with this document, graduate students must adhere to the Graduate School’s Policies and Procedures available on the Graduate School’s website: http://gradschool.wsu.edu/policies-procedures/. While these rights and responsibilities outline the complaint process, students are encouraged to use the Graduate School Deans for guidance and advice on conflicts that may arise at any point during their course of study at the University.

This section covers policies and guidelines pertaining to academic advancement and grievances only. Student disciplinary proceedings for misconduct including plagiarism and cheating are covered by the policies and procedures in the Standards of Conduct for Students contained in WAC 504-26. For disciplinary matters, please view the information at the following links:

  1. Student Conduct website: http://conduct.wsu.edu/
  2. Academic Integrity Standards and Procedures: http://www.academicintegrity.wsu.edu/
  3. Alcohol and Drug Policy: https://conduct.wsu.edu/policies/alcohol-and-drug-policy/

1.  Students with Disabilities.

The Graduate School is committed to providing equal opportunity in its services, programs, and employment for individuals with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. Students are responsible for initiating requests for reasonable accommodations and services that they need.

Requesting Reasonable Accommodations

Graduate students with identified disabilities should contact the Access Center before the semester that they plan to attend and initiate the accommodations process. Accommodations are unique for each individual and some require a significant amount of time to prepare for, so it is essential that students notify the Access Center as far in advance as possible. Students with a disability that is identified during the semester should contact the Access Center as soon as possible to arrange for an appointment and a review of their documentation by an Access advisor.   All accommodations must be approved through the Access Center located on each campus. Contact information for the Access Center at each campus can be found at the following websites:

All students requesting reasonable accommodation must meet with the instructor prior to or during the first week of the course to review all proposed accommodations in relation to course content and requirements.  Exceptions to this timeframe will be granted only upon a showing of good cause.

Working with the Access Center

  • Promptly notify the Access Center of any problems in receiving the agreed-upon accommodations. Stop by at least once each semester to keep your registration with the Access Center and your accommodations current.

The Access Center can be reached at (509) 335-3417 or access.center@wsu.edu. The website has additional information regarding documentation guidelines and types of accommodations. Website: http://accesscenter.wsu.edu/

2. Complaints by and/or against Members of the University Faculty, Administration, or Students.

Any graduate student who believes that he or she has been subjected to unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment, or who believes his or her rights have been violated by a member of the academic community, is strongly encouraged to contact the Office for Equal Opportunity (http://oeo.wsu.edu/). If the complaint involves discrimination or harassment by a student, a complaint may also be filed with the Office of Student Standards and Accountability (http://conduct.wsu.edu/).

Discrimination and Harassment

Information on discrimination and harassment and the University’s policy prohibiting discrimination and sexual harassment can be found at: http://oeo.wsu.edu/sgbd/ .

Academic Dishonesty

Students and faculty share in the responsibility of upholding and protecting academic honesty standards within the University. At Washington State University, all cases of academic dishonesty or academic misconduct, including cases of plagiarism, will be handled according to the process WAC 504-26. Information on academic dishonesty and related procedures can be found on the Office of Student Standards and Accountability website: (https://conduct.wsu.edu/academic-integrity/ ). Through the academic integrity violation process (see http://academicintegrity.wsu.edu/students/Academic-Integrity-Violation-Process/ ), the offending student will receive notice of the offense and will be given an opportunity to respond. The Standards of Conduct for Students covers cheating, plagiarism, or other forms of academic dishonesty including but not limited to the following:

  • unauthorized collaboration on assignments,
  • facilitation of dishonesty including not challenging academic dishonesty,
  • obtaining unauthorized knowledge of exam materials,
  • unauthorized multiple submissions of the same work or sabotage of others’ work,
  • knowingly furnishing false information to any University official, faculty member, or office,
  • forgery, alteration, or misuse of any University document, record, or instrument of identification.

For a complete definition of academic dishonesty, see https://conduct.wsu.edu/academic-integrity/ .

With the advent of the internet and other information sources, further discussion of plagiarism is warranted. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines plagiarism as taking “the ideas, writings, etc. from another and pass(ing) them off as one’s own”. Doing this is a clear example of academic dishonesty and, in fact, is a type of stealing. The person who wrote the original material worked hard to gain the appropriate expertise and also worked hard to express these ideas cogently. Furthermore, if you copy or plagiarize another’s work, you are not learning and you are not advancing your own academic pursuits. Failure to properly cite other work is another form of plagiarism. If you cite other work, even when you rephrase it in an independent manner, you must follow conventional practices of good scholarship with proper citations. Your professors can help with this, if they are asked. It is, however, your responsibility as a graduate student to learn the proper manner to cite references and other sources of information in your discipline. The consequences of plagiarism are severe because it is serious misconduct and is a form of cheating.

In the event that a graduate student becomes aware of any incidents of academic dishonesty, the graduate student should report the incident to the appropriate faculty member. The faculty member is then responsible for notifying the Office of Student Standards and Accountability, which will determine whether a violation took place and, if so, the sanction(s) to be imposed. Sanctions imposed may include failure of the class, loss of assistantship, and/or dismissal from the graduate program. Cases of academic dishonesty may also be reported to the Graduate School.

3. Graduate and Professional Student Complaint and Grievance Procedures for Academic Progress and Other Issues.

The graduate student complaint and formal grievance processes can involve several steps depending on the nature of the issue. There are many avenues available to Washington State University graduate students to resolve differences that might arise during the pursuit of an advanced degree. If a graduate program has its own grievance procedures, these procedures should be followed before utilizing the Graduate School’s grievance procedures. In general, the operational principle that should be followed is to maintain open communication at the most immediate point of access and to work upwards from there when appropriate. This means that students should work with their major professor or advisor to resolve matters if possible. The next level would be the Program Director, Department Chair or School Director. If the complaint involves a complex or multi-campus issue, the Dean of the College may get involved at this point in the process. There are cases, of course, where this is difficult. In these cases, graduate students should make an appointment with one of the Associate or Assistant Deans of the Graduate School for further advice. An important role of the Graduate School is to serve as an impartial arbitrator in these matters and to provide advice to both students and faculty that will result in the student continuing in good academic standing.

Graduate Student Complaint Procedures

a. Students are encouraged to first consult with their faculty advisor.

b. If the advisor is unable to resolve the problem, the student is encouraged to discuss the problem with the department/program chair, and/or an appropriate faculty liaison, such as the graduate program director or departmental ombudsman.

c. If the complaint cannot be resolved at the department or program level, the student should contact the Associate/Assistant Dean of the Graduate School designated by the Dean to hear student grievances (the Dean’s designee).

d. The Dean’s designee will review the complaint and, at his or her discretion, will recommend possible actions for resolution to the student as well as to the department/program chair, director, college dean, and/or faculty liaison.

Graduate Student Formal Grievance Procedures

In some instances, such as those related to academic and employment issues (e.g. failed examinations, termination of assistantship, dismissal from program, etc.), the student may wish to appeal a specific decision made by the departmental or program faculty.

a. The student must make a formal grievance request to the Dean of the Graduate School in writing, with signature (email is not sufficient). The student must submit documentation describing his/her grounds for a formal grievance to the Dean. Formal grievances must be filed within 15 (fifteen) calendar days following a notice of decision. The original decision will be held in abeyance until the university has rendered a final decision.

b. The Dean will assign these formal grievances to one of the Associate/Assistant Deans for full consideration and recommendation.

c. If the Associate/Assistant Dean deems it appropriate, the matter will be referred to an independent Committee on Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities (CGSRR) for consideration and formulating recommendations of action to the Dean of the Graduate School. The CGSRR will operate with due respect to the rights of graduate students, faculty, and administrators including the conduct of interviews, the right of all parties to review and address allegations, and the right to a fair hearing. The CGSRR will deliberate and render a recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate School or the Dean’s designee within 60 days of being formed.

d. Recommendations for resolution of formal grievances will be acted upon by the Dean or the Dean’s designee. A final decision will be made by the Dean of the Graduate School. The decision made by the Dean on academic matters is final.

Graduate Student Appeal Procedures

An Appeal of the decision made by the Dean of the Graduate School can be made to the Provost if the graduate student believes there was a procedural error or failure to follow WSU or Graduate School policy during the complaint or grievance process. The written appeal to the Provost regarding procedural irregularities must be filed within fifteen (15) calendar days following the notice of the decision from the Dean of the Graduate School in response to the formal grievance. The appeal must be copied to the Dean of the Graduate School. If the Dean of the Graduate School does not receive a copy of the appeal within fifteen (15) calendar days, the student’s right to appeal will be waived and the Dean’s decision will be final. The Provost will not reopen cases for the purpose of re-investigating the grievance.

Professional Student Grievance and Appeal Procedures

Professional students within the College of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. program), the College of Pharmacy (Pharm. D. program), the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine (M.D. Program), and the College of Business (M.B.A. programs) will follow College policies and procedures for grievances related to academic issues. Appeal of College level decisions can be made to the Graduate School if the professional student believes there was a procedural error or failure to follow WSU or College policies during the complaint or grievance process. The professional student must make a formal appeal request to the Dean of the Graduate School in writing, with signature (email is not sufficient). Formal appeals must be filed within 15 (fifteen) calendar days following a notice of decision. The original decision will be held in abeyance while under appeal. The Dean of the Graduate School will not reopen cases for the purpose of re-investigating the grievance.

4. Satisfactory Progress towards Degree

Graduate students are expected to make satisfactory progress in their studies and are responsible for meeting the Graduate School’s continuous enrollment policy, general academic requirements, and the specific requirements associated with their degree (see the Graduate School’s Policies and Procedures Manual). Programs may have additional requirements, and students are expected to contact their program director and/or faculty advisor for information on these requirements.

5. Scholarship and Research

The following is information regarding authorship and data that graduate students may collect during their research. (For Responsible Conduct of Research training, visit http://myresearch.wsu.edu).

Authorship

The Office of Research Guidelines for Authorship Determination can be found at https://research.wsu.edu/office-research/policies/authorship/.

Data Ownership
In general all data collected at WSU is the property of WSU. It is useful to distinguish between grants and contracts. Data collected with grant funds remains under the control of WSU. Contracts typically require the researcher to deliver a product or service to the government or industry sponsor, and the product or service is then owned and controlled by the sponsor (government or industry). WSU and principal investigators have responsibilities and obligations regarding research funds and data collection.

a. Before data is collected, the principal investigator (PI) and project personnel must clearly understand who owns the data, who has the right to publish, and what requirements or obligations are imposed on the researcher or WSU.

b. Whenever a graduate student or postdoc leaves the lab a similar agreement shall be negotiated between the PI and the graduate student or postdoc.

c. Collaborative research agreements regarding data ownership and use must be agreed to in writing prior to the collection of the data.  In general, each member of the team should have continued access to the data/materials (unless a prior agreement was negotiated).

Data Collection
Data collection must be well-organized and detailed. The laboratory notebook (bound sequentially numbered pages, with signatures and dates) is often key to keeping daily records. Detailed records help establish good work practices, provide a history of students’ ideas, avoid fraud or misconduct charges, defend patents, and provide a valuable resource for a student’s own work.

Data Storage and Protection
Once data has been collected it must be stored and protected to be of future use. Data storage must be done in such a way that results and conclusions can be clearly discerned from the data and materials that have been archived. The data and materials must be protected so that research findings can be confirmed and/or reanalyzed by others. If data and materials are not properly stored and protected, it could significantly reduce the value of the research (or even render the research worthless).

For additional information on the Universities data policies see http://www.wsu.edu/~forms/HTML/EPM/EP8_University_Data_Policies.htm.

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