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Guidelines On Graduate Student Rights And Responsibilities – The Graduate School Manual

I. Discrimination

On the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, disability, marital status or sexual orientation

Graduate students are protected by SUNY's "Grievance Procedure for Review of Allegations of Discrimination." A graduate student who believes that he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of any of the above, or that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment, may get help, including information and documentation of the grievance procedure, by contacting the Affirmative Action Office (Library South Ground - Room 663, x7-4775).

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II. Academic Evaluation

While graduate students are expected and encouraged to work in a progressively independent manner, they are entitled to the periodic assessment of their progress in a manner that contributes to their academic and professional growth. To facilitate this process, each department or program is to establish, with graduate student participation, clear written criteria and procedures for evaluating graduate student progress. Because the criteria will vary among programs and will change as students advance toward their degrees, the relationship of these criteria to academic and professional achievement at each stage of development should be clear. The Graduate School ensures that the criteria are established and put into effect.

III. Financial Support

  1. Evaluation of assistantship performance

    SUNY's guidelines for the evaluation of assistantship performance are included in "SUNY Guidelines for Awarding of Graduate and Teaching Assistantships".

  2. Renewal of assistantship appointment

    SUNY's guidelines for the renewal of assistantship appointments are included in "SUNY Guidelines for Awarding of Graduate and Teaching Assistantships". Each department or program is responsible for publishing the criteria it uses for appointment and renewal, and for informing all assistants of the procedures and of the timetable for renewals of awards. Assistants should know the University's policies concerning the maximum time for which a student may be supported (two years for a masters degree, four from masters to doctoral degree or six total years from baccalaureate to doctoral). Departments and programs that hold more limited policies for support should make students aware of them in the initial letter of appointment.

    To be eligible for renewal of assistantships, students must be making satisfactory academic and degree progress and be in good academic standing, and they must have carried out their assistantship responsibilities to the satisfaction of the program. Provided that students meet those criteria, the department has an obligation to reappoint those students whom it recruited with written offers of continuing funding, as indicated in the offer letter, and in every case must honor the terms of the letter of appointment. Offers of reappointment to assistantship are to be made in writing.

  3. Professional nature of appointment

    Every effort should be made to ensure that the student's assigned assistantship duties and responsibilities advance the student's professional development. Assignments should not conflict with courses or other work considered to be an integral part of the student's degree program. Assistants should be consulted about their assignments in order to minimize such conflicts.

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IV. Requests for Waivers of Graduate School Procedures and Regulations

The Graduate School rarely approves such waivers and only for extraordinary circumstances. Students with requests for waivers of Graduate School procedures or regulations should consult with and obtain approval from their graduate or program director. Unit approved requests go to the Assistant Dean for Academic Services at The Graduate School who, in turn, may refer such requests to the Academic Standards Committee of the Graduate Council. The decision of The Graduate School is final. There is no appeal procedure.

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V. Grievances, Hearings and Appeals

To facilitate the process by which graduate students may resolve grievances, each department and graduate program is, with active graduate student participation, to establish a grievance and appeals committee that consists of both faculty and graduate students, and to establish procedures for hearing and resolving differences. The scope of possible grievances is in the dispute of the implementation of guidelines, regulations and policies, but not the guidelines, regulations and policies per se. It may include, but is not necessarily limited to: funding decisions; academic evaluation; assistantship responsibilities; and how departmental, program, and University policies have been implemented. To appeal a grievance decision at the departmental/unit level, see Grievance Appeal Procedures in the Graduate School Manual.

VI. Academic and Professional Conduct

  1. Graduate students' responsibilities

    Graduate students must strictly observe professional standards and academic honesty in coursework, examinations, research and written reports, as well as with professional behavior towards students, staff and faculty, and in the professional treatment of the students, research subjects, clients, patients, and laboratory animals they may encounter in the process of their graduate education in accordance with the student rules of conduct as outlined in Binghamton University's Bulletin, Student Handbook and Graduate Student Manual.

  2. Allegations of academic or professional misconduct

    Normally, non-academic issues fall in the domain of one of these units: 

    Affirmative Action Office: This office handles discrimination and sexual harassment issues.

    Human Resources Office

    Office of Student Conduct (formally Judicial Affairs):see the Binghamton University Student Handbook.

    Academic issues typically fall in the domain of one of these units:

    Academic integrity or honesty policy – See the BU Student Handbook or Bulletin

    A graduate student who is found to have violated the rules of academic integrity -- who plagiarizes, cheats, or falsifies research data -- is subject to suspension or expulsion.

    Appeals about decisions regarding academic dishonesty are handled by the Dean's Office of the college or school with the student's academic program. Students have the right to appeal such decisions to the Dean of their college or school within 10 days of the initial decision.  The Graduate School's appeal process does not apply.

    Academic unit – See department's or unit's Graduate Student Manual or Handbook

    For an allegation - that falls in this domain - of academic or professional misconduct brought by a faculty member, student or administrator against a graduate student, the adjudication process is:

    Hearing: If a mutually satisfactory resolution of the alleged violation cannot be reached through a conference between accused and accuser, then a departmental /unit hearing will ensue in accordance with the unit's grievance procedures. The departmental /unit grievance committee will receive written documentation of the alleged violation. The graduate student will be given the opportunity to respond to the alleged violation in writing and in person. After an investigation, the committee's decision on the disposition of the case will be forwarded to the accused student and to the department chair or program director. The committee may make recommendations concerning penalties for substantiated violations, but is not required to do so. The department chair or program director will review the case and recommendation rendered by the committee and will determine and implement penalties in cases so disposed. Penalties for academic or professional misconduct may vary according to the circumstances of any particular case.

    Appeal: If the student wishes to appeal either the disposition or penalties in a case of alleged misconduct, a written appeal should be forwarded to the Grievance Appeal Committee of The Graduate School via contacting the Assistant Dean of The Graduate School.  Refer to the Grievance Procedures in the BU Graduate School Manual for that – see web site.

    Responsible conduct of research – See the BU Bulletin

    As required by federal regulations, the University has a "Policy on Responsible Conduct of Research" that applies to all researchers within the University, including graduate students. This policy is posted in BU's Bulletin.

VII. Policy on Graduate Student Severance or Removal of Support

Graduate students who do not meet academic standards may be dropped from their graduate program according to the process described in the section of the Binghamton University Bulletin entitled "Probation." Normally this process entails warning letters to students, who work with their faculty advisors to improve their grade point average to satisfactory levels (3.0 or above) or to meet other specified program requirements (such as the passing of comprehensive exams or the completion of theses and dissertations). If the necessary requirements are not attained within a specified period, the program's director of graduate studies recommends to the Dean of The Graduate School that the student be severed.

Students may be involuntarily withdrawn from the University without academic penalty based on the recommendation of the Medical Director of the Decker Student Health Services Center or the Director of the University Counseling Center. "Without academic penalty" is defined as continuing as a student in satisfactory academic standing at the institution and eligible to return. Efforts are made to preserve a student's academic progress with incomplete grades and/or withdrawals through consultation with faculty. If there are irreconcilable disagreements in these discussions, the Provost will make the final decision(s) about the disposition of the student's academic record. Recommendations for involuntary withdrawals are submitted to the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students for appropriate action. Students will be sent written notification of the intended action. Appeals of such action may be made in writing to the vice president for student affairs within 10 business days. Students are not readmitted without a positive recommendation from either the Medical Director of the Decker Student Health Services Center or the Director of the University Counseling Center, and upon clearance by the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students.

All other recommendations to sever a student from The Graduate School or one of its programs, or to revoke a student's assistantship contract or to revoke a fellowship, tuition scholarship or other source of financial support, are made to the Assistant Dean of The Graduate School, accompanied by appropriate documentation. The student should be informed of the basis for any such decision and can appeal it.  If financial support was revoked for academic reasons, the first step is the grievance procedure of the student's program and then, if appropriate, the appeals procedure of The Graduate School, in which case the appeal is submit to Graduate Grievance Appeal Committee via the Assistant Dean. For a recommendation to remove support from or to sever a student based on academic reasons, action will await the outcome of the unit's grievance procedure. If financial support was revoked for non-academic reasons, the appeal should be to the Office of Human Resources.

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Last Updated: 11/8/11