Academic Appeals


Navigating the Academic Appeal Process

The following resources and links will help connect you with the information you need to navigate the appeal process successfully. If you need assistance understanding the process or CWU policy, we encourage you to contact your academic advisor or AcademicSuccess@cwu.edu.

Appealing an Academic Suspension

Suspension Appeal- Request for Reinstatement
  • If a student was suspended from the university for academic reasons and they wish to seek reinstatement before the one-year period has lapsed, they should submit a suspension appeal. Students are only permitted to submit one appeal per term.

     

    Undergraduate Scholastics Standards Policy

    Academic suspension only occurs if a student is on academic probation and earns less than a 2.0-grade point average for the term. The suspension period is for one year, during which students are encouraged to take the time to address the circumstances and challenges that led to their academic difficulties. Once a student has done so, they are encouraged to reapply for admission or, if less than a year has passed since their suspension, to appeal for reinstatement.

    Students choosing to appeal their suspension will need to do and provide the following:

    • A letter of appeal explaining what led to their suspension and how those circumstances have been resolved or how they will no longer impact the student's academics should they be reinstated.
    • A detailed action plan that explains how the student will recover academically and what resources they will utilize to ensure their success should they be reinstated.
    • Complete the Academic Suspension Appeal Form.

    It is highly recommended that students appealing their suspension meet with their academic advisor to discuss their appeal and action plan.

    When reviewing suspension appeals, the Academic Standing Council looks for the following in a successful appeal:

    • The student's letter-
      • indicates that they have reflected on their academic performance.
      • shows that they have taken responsibility for their academic performance.
      • clearly explains the circumstances that contributed to the student's poor performance and how they have been resolved.
      • is well-written and aligns with basic college-level writing standards. Students are encouraged to edit their appeals as they would an assignment for a class that will be graded for grammar and coherence.
    • The student's action plan-
      • includes a strategy for recovering their GPA.
      • identifies specific resources that will aid them in academic recovery and provides evidence that the student has reached out to engage with those services.
      • includes a balanced course of study for their remaining academics or the next year following reinstatement.
      • Supporting documentation for any extenuating circumstances indicated in the letter. Documentation should be from a credible source and indicate how it connects to the student.

    The committee will also review the student's academic records in their entirety. They will consider the student's overall performance and progress toward a degree in their review and whether they have shown signs of academic improvement.

    The decision of the Academic Standing Committee is the final decision on matters of academic standing.

FAQs for Suspension Appeals


  • Do I really need to meet with my advisor to appeal my suspension?

    While it is not required, it is strongly recommended that students meet with an academic advisor before finalizing and submitting their request for reinstatement/suspension appeal.

    Academic advisors can help by reviewing your written appeal to ensure you address the needed areas. They are also an expert in campus resources that you can utilize to recover academically and help you create your academic recovery/action plan.

  • When are suspension appeals due?

    Deadlines for submitting your Academic Suspension Appeal based on the quarter you are requesting reinstatement for:

    To be reinstated for Winter 2024, the deadline is Tuesday, December 26 by 11:59 PM PST

    To be reinstated for Spring 2024, the deadline is Monday, March 25 by 11:59 PM PST

    To be reinstated for Summer 2024, the deadline is Monday, June 17 by 10:00 AM PST

    We highly encourage students who were suspended earlier than the current quarter to submit their appeal in advance for early review. The committee reviews appeals every two weeks when the quarter is in session. Please note that the review time may take longer, depending on the quantity of the appeals received. 

    Students are only permitted to appeal once per term.

  • When will I know if my suspension appeal is approved?

    The committee typically reviews appeals within three weeks of receipt and will send out notifications as soon as a decision is made. If a student does not submit their appeal until the week of the deadline for the term, the latest a decision will be sent is by 5:00 pm the first day of the classes for the quarter a student is requesting reinstatement for. We recommend not waiting until the deadline to submit your appeal.

  • I was suspended and want to return before the one year period is over, but I want to take next quarter off to take care of myself. Can I wait a quarter and submit an appeal to come back the following quarter?

    Yes, students can submit an appeal for any term following their suspension. After one calendar year, students are eligible to reapply via CWU Admissions without needing to appeal.

  • I was suspended and do not plan to appeal the decision. When am I eligible to return to CWU?

    Students who choose not to appeal their suspension can return after one year. For example, if a student is suspended at the end of the Spring 2023 term, they can return for the Summer 2024 quarter. They would reapply for admission through CWU Admissions and do not have to submit a suspension appeal.

  • What strategies and resources could I utilize to help me recover academically?

    There are many strategies and resources available to students who are struggling academically. Which ones a student employs will depend on their specific situation. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor to discuss the best approach for their academic recovery journey. Below are some frequently used resources or strategies students consider when creating their action plan.

    Strategies that may be beneficial, depending on your circumstances:

    • Commit to attending class for every meeting or checking canvas daily for online classwork.
    • Meet regularly with faculty.
    • Establish study groups with peers for challenging classes.
    • Use tutoring resources available via CWU or obtain a private tutor.
    • If you are not enjoying the coursework for a major program area, or course rigor is at a level you do not want to invest the time to pursue, consider meeting with a career counselor to discuss careers that may be a better fit and meet with an advisor to discuss changing your major.
    • If you have a disability that affects academics, meet with Disability Services to discuss the accommodation process.
    • If you need to improve your time management or skills for college-level studies, take UNIV 102 or meet with a Wildcat Academic Mentor.
    • Consider repeating classes to improve your GPA. Your academic advisor can help you devise a strategy for repeating targeted classes to help you improve your GPA.
    • Take a reduced course load of classes. Many students experiencing academic difficulties will take extra classes in an effort to get "caught up." But often, this will have the opposite effect. Students in academic recovery should consider taking a lighter classwork load and not exceeding 12-15 credits.
    • If you are experiencing financial difficulties, consider meeting with the Financial Wellness Center and Financial Aid office to discuss available options and how to budget for your academics.

    Select Campus Resources

Appealing a Course Grade or Academic Decision


If you disagree with a course grade or academic decision, here is information that may help you.
  • Course Grade Appeal
    • For a course grade appeal, the student must explain how the grade awarded was arbitrary or capricious. Specifically, it needs to meet one of the following criteria:

      • the final course grade was determined based on something other than performance in the course
      • the final course grade was determined using standards different from those which were applied to other students in that course
      • the final course grade was determined using standards that deviated significantly from the faculty member's previously stated standards, and the faculty member did not announce that their standards were changing

      Summary of Policy and Procedure for Course Grade Appeals

      To petition a course grade, students have one quarter (summer does not apply to this) after the grade posts to the student transcripts to submit a request for hearing to the Board of Appeals. This request must be submitted after completing the process for appealing with the instructor, department chair, and dean.

      Click here for the full policy and procedure.

      1. The student shall first attempt to resolve the issue with the instructor.
        • Within ten (10) working days of being contacted by the student, the instructor and the student shall make a good-faith effort to resolve the grade appeal.
      2. If a resolution is not achieved between the student and instructor, the student must ask the department chair or administrative supervisor to resolve the grade appeal.
        • Once the department chair is notified by the student that they want to appeal the decision, they have ten (10) working days to meet with the parties and attempt to resolve the matter.
        • If the grade appeal is not resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, the department chair has five (5) working days to forward a written statement of their reasoning in the matter to the college dean and the student.
      1. If a resolution is not achieved at the department chair level, and the student wishes to continue the course grade appeal process, the student must contact the College Dean or Associate Dean (see the list of contact below) and request an appeal within five (5) working days of the department chair’s decision.

      2. The Dean or Associate Dean has ten (10) working days to investigate the matter and attempt to resolve the issue. If they cannot resolve it, they have an additional five (5) working days to evaluate the appeal and make their own determination and notify all parties.

      3. The petitioning student then must reply to the dean stating whether or not they accept their determination within five (5) working days of receipt of the dean’s decision. No reply indicates acceptance of the Dean's decision.

      4. If the student rejects the decision and wishes to continue to appeal the course grade, they submit the Request for a Hearing with the Board of Appeals form.

      5. Once the Request for a Hearing with the Board of Appeals form is received, Academic Success will take steps to verify that the above process was completed and that the appeal meets the criteria of a course grade appeal.
      • Once verified, the Board of Appeals and Academic Success will:
        • Assign the student and the other party an advisor from the Board of Appeals to provide guidance on the process. This appeal advisor does not make a decision on the matter, but provides guidance on the process and submission of materials.
        • Send the student the Additional Materials form to complete, which allows them to submit a formal, detailed statement and all materials and evidence the student wishes to be considered in their case.
      • Once an advisor is assigned, the process has an established timeline for responses that provide each party a reasonable timeframe to gather their materials and formulate their reply:
        • The student petitioner has 10 working days to submit their additional materials once they receive the form.
        • Academic Success has 5 working days after receiving the materials and statement to provide them to the other party in the complaint.
        • The other party has 10 working days to submit a response and any materials or evidence supporting their response.
        • Academic Success has 5 working days to provide the other party's response and materials to the student petitioner.
        • The student petitioner then has 10 working days to submit a final response or to decline to provide further written responses.
        • Once the student petitioner replies or 10 working days has elapsed, the Board of Appeals will set a hearing date.

      Click here for the full policy and procedure.

      Be sure to keep copies of all communications, including the determinations by the instructor, department chair and dean/administrative supervisor regarding their decisions regarding the appeal. These will be needed if submitting an appeal to the Board of Appeals.

  • Academic Decision

    An academic petition is submitted by a student when they would like to petition a decision regarding their academics, that is not a course grade appeal. For example, if a student believes they have been denied admission to a program for reasons not in stated policies and requirements for admissions.

    For an academic petition, the student must explain how the decision was arbitrary or capricious.

    Summary of Policy and Procedure for Academic Petitions

    Click here for the full policy and procedure.

    1. If a student wants to appeal a decision that affects their academic program, they have twenty (20) working days from the day the notification was sent to contact the department chair and request to appeal the decision.

    2. Once the department chair is notified by the student that they want to appeal the decision, the department chair has ten (10) working days to meet with the parties and attempt to resolve the matter.

    3. If a resolution is not achieved at the department chair level, and the student wishes to continue the petition process, the student has five (5) working days after the department chair's decision to petition to the college dean or administrative supervisor. See below for the list of contact for each college:

      College of Arts and Humanities (CAH) – Rachel Kirk (Associate Dean of CAH)

      College of Education and Professional Studies (CEPS):

      For EDTL/CSEL/Teacher ED Dept. – Jennifer Dechaine (Associate Dean of CEPS)

      For other Departments – Sathy Rajendran (Dean of CEPS)

      College of the Sciences (COTS) – Mike Harrod (Associate Dean of COTS)

      College of Business (CB) - Faiza Khoja (Dean of CB)

    4. The college dean/administrative supervisor has ten (10) working days to investigate the matter and attempt to resolve the issue. If they cannot do so to the mutual agreement of all parties, they have an additional five (5) working days to review all materials and make a decision regarding the appeal.

    5. Within five (5) working days, the student must reply to the dean's decision and indicate whether they accept or reject the decision. No reply indicates acceptance.

    6. If a student rejects the decision and chooses to appeal further, they submit the Request for a Hearing with the Board of Appeals form.

    7. Once the Request for a Hearing with the Board of Appeals form is received, Academic Success will take steps to verify that the above process was completed and that the appeal meets the criteria of an academic petition.

    8. Once verified, the Board of Appeals and Academic Success will:

      • Assign the student and the other party an advisor from the Board of Appeals to provide guidance on the process. This appeal advisor does not make a decision on the matter, but provides guidance on the process and submission of materials.

      • Send the student the Additional Materials form to complete, which allows them to submit a formal, detailed statement and all materials and evidence the student wishes to be considered in their case.

    9. Once an advisor is assigned and the Additional Materials form has been sent, the process has an established timeline for responses that provide each party a reasonable timeframe to gather their materials and formulate their reply:

      • The student petitioner has 10 working days to submit the Academic Petition form once received.

      • Academic Success has 5 working days after receiving the Academic Petition form to provide the materials and statement to the other party in the complaint.

      • The other party has 10 working days to submit a response and any materials or evidence supporting their response.

      • Academic Success has 5 working days to provide the other party's response and materials to the student petitioner.

      • The student petitioner then has 10 working days to submit a final response or to decline to provide further written responses.

      • Once the student petitioner replies or 10 working days has elapsed, the Board of Appeals will set a hearing date.

    Be sure to keep copies of all communications, including the determinations by the department chair and dean/administrative supervisor regarding their decisions regarding the appeal. These will be needed if submitting an appeal to the Board of Appeals.

FAQs for Course Grade Appeals and Academic Petitions


  • What does it mean when the policy says "Arbitrary" or "Capricious"?

    There are many reasons why a student may want to appeal a grade or decision. Some simply need a courteous conversation, such as when a data entry error may have occurred (faculty and staff are people, too!). Other times, a student may feel they were graded unfairly. In these circumstances, the academic policy specifies situations that are eligible for appeal and defines circumstances that are "unfair."

    Definitions:

    Faculty and academic units of the university must establish clear policies and expectations for students. It is the responsibility of the students to review these and refer back to them. These are typically found in the syllabus if it is related to a class and in the university catalog and the official policies website for the university.

    When appealing an academic decision or grade, students must be able to explain why the decision or grade was determined in a way that was not consistent with established standards and/or expectations.

  • All the information uses the term "working days." What is a working day?

    For purposes of the academic appeal policy and procedure, a working day is a faculty contracted work day during fall, winter, and spring terms. The Academic Appeal process requires that participation of faculty and as such the Board of Appeals are limited to reviewing appeals during the regular academic school year.

    Observed holidays, designated breaks, weekends, summer term, and university closures do not count as working days.

  • How do I communicate with my instructor that I want to appeal my grade?

    Many students feel nervous speaking with a faculty member about their grades, especially in cases where the student thinks the faculty member made a mistake. Faculty are people, too, and sometimes errors occur.

    We recommend starting with an email explaining your concern and requesting an appointment for additional conversation.

    As an example:

    Dear Professor Smith,

    I hope you are doing well. I wanted to reach out to you about my grade for UNIV 101.001 for Fall 2022. The grade posted on my record is a D-. I kept track of my graded assignments and using the grading scale in the syllabus, I calculated that I would finish the course with a B-. I was hoping we could meet to discuss this and review my assignment grades together to determine where the difference is.

    I am free Monday-Thursday, after 1:00pm and am available to meet in person at your office or via zoom.

    Sincerely,

    Student Name, Student ID number

    Conversations regarding grades for classes or other concerns about a class should be discussed in person or via a video call. Email communication can often lead to miscommunications or frustrating gaps between replies. It is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to follow a verbal conversation with an email. This ensures there is a record of the conversation and verifies that both parties agree about what was discussed and decided.

  • What are the dos and don'ts of academic appeals?

    Do:

    • Review the syllabus for the class or the policies for the academic program closely to determine if there are grounds for an appeal. Remember, to appeal a decision or grade, it must violate or not be in alignment with established policies or procedures for the class/program/academic unit.
    • Reach out via email to request an appointment with the other individuals involved (faculty, department chair, etc.). Be courteous and address them properly by their title and name.
    • Use your CWU email, not your personal email account.
    • Explain how the decision does not align with the stated standard for the class/program.
    • Keep all records of communications, graded materials (if for a grade appeal), and any support materials, such as the class syllabus.

    Do Not:

    • Try to discuss a grade appeal by catching the professor after class. Often professors teach classes back to back, or they may have a meeting. Students should request an appointment, so they have dedicated time to discuss the concern.
    • Be curt or disrespectful in communicating the concern. Addressing a concern should be done using professional language.
  • How long do I have to submit an academic petition or course grade appeal?

    To petition an academic decision not related to course grades, students have 20 working days to submit that petition to the academic department chair.

    To petition a course grade, students have one quarter (summer does not apply to this) after the grade posts to the student transcripts to submit a request for hearing to the Board of Appeals. This request must be submitted after completing the process for appealing with the instructor, department chair, and dean.

  • How do I know who the the department chair and dean are for my class?

    Please click this link to the Catalog for List of Department and Programs

    From the above page, you can click the Department webpage to find contact information for the Department Chair or Program Director. After the Department Chair, the next level of contact will be the Dean of the College, please see below for contact information for respective colleges and specific departments under each college:

    College of Arts and Humanities (CAH) – Rachel Kirk (Associate Dean of CAH)

    College of Education and Professional Studies (CEPS):

    For EDTL/CSEL/Teacher ED Dept. – Jennifer Dechaine (Associate Dean of CEPS)

    For other Departments – Sathy Rajendran (Dean of CEPS)

    College of the Sciences (COTS) – Mike Harrod (Associate Dean of COTS)

    College of Business (COB) - Faiza Khoja (Dean of COB)

    The A-Z site index can help you navigate to department or college websites.

  • I think I was unfairly denied admission to the major I want. I petitioned the department and college, can I petition this to the Board of Appeals?

    It may be possible to further petition this type of matter. This would be an academic petition. We encourage students to carefully review the admission requirements and policies for the program. As part of the petition, you will need to explain how the decision was not in alignment with the policies and requirements stated for admission. If you were dismissed from a major program, you will need to explain how your dismissal was not in alignment with the standards, policies, or requirements for continued admission to the program.

  • What should I do if I want to voice a concern or complaint about a faculty member or class, but I haven't received a final grade?

    Students are encouraged to reach out to the academic department that offers the course if there is a concern about the class or faculty member.

    If the student is concerned that the faculty member isn't responding to emails or messages, not in their office for office hours, or not in the classroom during the designated time, the department secretary can usually help a student get connected or may be aware if the faculty member is out sick unexpectedly.

    If a student has a concern or complaint about the class or instruction, they can contact the department chair directly.

    If a student has a concern or complaint regarding harrasing or discriminating behavior, they can submit a Behavior of Concern report for either a Concerns about Faculty/Staff or Inclusivity or Bias Related Concerns.

  • What if the the instructor doesn't respond to my request for a meeting to discuss the grade within 10 working days?

    A a first step, the student should check and confirm that their email was sent to the correct email and send a follow up, copying the department chair. Additionally, the student can contact the academic department to see if the faculty member is out of the office and request to meet with the department chair.

    In general, if someone does not respond within the specified timeframe, a student should follow up on the original communication and copy the next level in the process.

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