These Student Discrimination Report Procedures ("Procedures") provide an adequate, reliable, and impartial channel for resolution of reports from students of unlawful discrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital or familial status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, and/or other characteristics protected by applicable law in any of the policies, procedures, programs, or activities of or by any faculty member employed by or acting in an official capacity for The George Washington University.
These Procedures are not intended to be used to resolve reports of sexual harassment as defined under the University’s Title IX Sexual Harassment and Related Conduct Policy. Reports of unlawful discrimination by students (including graduate students serving as teaching assistants or graduate assistants) or student organizations are generally resolved through the Code of Student Conduct. Reports of discrimination by staff and/or administrators (including faculty serving in administrative roles during the incident in question) should be reported to GW’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Access Office.
For procedures to resolve charges of discrimination in employment, employees should consult the University’s Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination, Anti-Harassment and Non-Retaliation Policy.
These Procedures are intended to encourage resolution of the student's report informally, when appropriate, and at the earliest possible stage. At the same time, when such resolution is not possible or appropriate, these Procedures provide for a more formal review of the student’s report by individuals not party to the case, and a final decision based upon that review by the Provost and/or their designee. In providing these Procedures, it is the intention of the University to carry them out in an equitable and timely manner. However, it may not be possible to adhere to established time frames, and extensions of time shall not be construed as a failure to follow established procedures.
It shall be a violation of these Procedures to retaliate against any student because they have in good faith opposed any discriminatory practice prohibited by these Procedures, or because they have filed a report, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in these or other related procedures.
Any currently enrolled full-time or part-time student who believes that a faculty member has unlawfully discriminated against them on any of the bases listed above may initiate these Procedures. If the reported discrimination is related to the student’s departure from the university, former students may request to use these Procedures to resolve that report. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs has discretion to grant or deny that request. Students are encouraged to report discrimination as soon as possible in order to maximize the university’s ability to respond promptly and effectively. Employees, both full-time and part-time, who are also students, may use these Procedures for matters relating to their student status only. These Procedures are not available to applicants to any of the university's academic units, including applicants who are or have been registered students in another of the university's academic units.
In accordance with the statement on academic freedom outlined in the Faculty Code, in an academic setting, expression that is reasonably designed or reasonably intended to contribute to academic inquiry, education, scholarly pursuit, or debate on issues of public concern shall not be subject to these Procedures.
Students may also wish to review the applicability of their school’s grade appeal/review policy. An allegation improper academic evaluation may only proceed through one process. Allegations of arbitrary or capricious academic evaluation on the basis of unlawful discrimination shall be heard pursuant to these Procedures. All other allegations of arbitrary or capricious academic evaluation shall be heard and reviewed through faculty peer review procedures established by the dean and faculty of the school in which the contested academic evaluation took place.
II. Discrimination Report Procedures
A. Students who report that their access to educational opportunities has been limited or impeded by discrimination from faculty are encouraged, but not required, to first seek to clarify or resolve the question through direct contact with the individuals whose action gave rise to the matter.
B. If the student is unable to clarify or resolve the matter and wishes to move forward with the process, the student must submit a written report to the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or their designee. The student will have the opportunity to meet with the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or designee and have issues or questions addressed. The written report must include the following:
- the name of the faculty member whose action gave rise to the matter (the respondent);
- the type of discrimination reported (i.e., on which protected characteristic(s) was the behavior reportedly based);
- a statement of the harm experienced and the resolution sought; and
- a summary, if applicable, of the time, place, and results, of any discussion that may have taken place, as encouraged in II.A. above.
C. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or designee shall refer the report to the appropriate academic or administrative department chair with a copy to the respondent. The department chair shall seek to facilitate informal mediation to resolve the reported concerns. This phase of the Procedures is voluntary; if one party refuses to participate in the informal mediation, the matter is referred directly to the Discrimination Report Review Committee. This mediation phase of the Procedures should be completed within 10 business days of the referral, does not require an in-person meeting with the complainant or the respondent and may be conducted virtually, by telephone, or by email. If both parties agree to informal mediation of the matter, the department chair shall convey in writing to the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or designee, a statement of the efforts that were made to mediate the issue and the outcome of the mediation.
If the respondent is an academic department chair, dean, or administrator, or a faculty member reporting directly to a dean or vice president, the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or designee shall refer the matter directly to a dean or vice president. If the academic or administrative department chair wishes to disqualify themselves because of prior knowledge of the matter, the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or designee shall appoint as mediator another academic department chair, dean, administrator, or faculty member. The person selected by the dean or vice president must be at least equal in position and rank to the person against whom the report has been filed.
If, because of prior knowledge of the matter, the dean or vice president wishes to disqualify themselves from performing any of the functions outlined in these Procedures, the matter will be referred to the Provost or designee who shall designate another dean or vice president to perform one or more of the functions outlined in these procedures.
D. In the event mediation does not achieve a mutually agreeable resolution for the parties, the student may request a formal Discrimination Report Review Committee by writing the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or designee within three business days of receipt of the mediation report.
E. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or a designee shall, within seven business days, appoint a Discrimination Report Review Committee.
- The Discrimination Report Review Committee will consist of two faculty members and two students.
- Committee members will be selected from among a panel of ten faculty members selected by the Faculty Senate and ten students selected by The George Washington University Student Association. At least five students named to the panel shall be enrolled in programs at the graduate/professional level. Appointments to the panel shall be made for one year from July 1 to June 30. Appointments are renewable. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or a designee will select the committee members for each review and will appoint one of the members to serve as chair. If panel members are unavailable to serve, the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or a designee shall have the authority to appoint committee members from the appropriate constituency from outside the panels to hear a particular report. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or a designee shall serve as advisor to the Review Committee.
- Each party shall, within five business days from notification of the appointment of a Discrimination Report Review Committee, submit to the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or a designee documentation to be reviewed by the Discrimination Report Review Committee and a list of witnesses to be called at the hearing. This information will also be shared with the other party prior to the hearing.
- Within fifteen business days of appointment, the Discrimination Report Review Committee shall hear the report and submitted documentation together with such witnesses as it deems germane to the report and/or as may be called by either party or the Discrimination Report Review Committee. The Discrimination Report Review Committee is charged with conducting a full and impartial hearing, which includes, but is not limited to, introducing and reviewing documents and other evidence and calling and questioning witnesses. The Discrimination Report Review Committee may request and review any additional documents or materials it deems necessary. Each party shall be entitled to question all witnesses appearing at the hearing and to present written statements or other evidence. It is the responsibility of each party to ensure that their witnesses are present. However, if a witness is unavailable or declines to attend, the Discrimination Report Review Committee will determine whether a written statement will be admitted. Either party may be accompanied at the hearing by one person whom they selected. That person may not speak on behalf of either party. Representation by legal counsel is not permitted at the hearing.
The Proceedings shall in all respects be under the control of the chair and shall not be subject to formal rules of evidence or procedure. The Committee shall use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard for determining if discrimination occurred. The proceedings are closed to members of the university community. The proceedings shall be recorded and the recording preserved for three years along with any written document and other evidence presented. Access to review the recording will be made available to either party upon request.
The Discrimination Review Committee shall convey its findings to the Provost or designee within five business days of the conclusion of the hearing. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or designee shall distribute copies of the Committee's findings to both parties.
5. The Provost or designee shall make a decision within five business days after receiving the findings of the Discrimination Report Review Committee. The decision of the Provost or designee shall be in writing and shall be conveyed to both parties. The decision made by the Provost or designee shall be final.
If the decision of the Provost involves the changing of an academic evaluation to remedy a finding of discrimination, the Provost shall, in conjunction with the appropriate Dean, identify and appoint two qualified faculty members or subject matter experts, either from within the university or external to GW, to evaluate the academic work(s) in question. The name of the student shall be withheld from those performing the independent evaluation. The grading rubric used in the class and the assignment(s) as outlined on the class syllabus shall be provided to those performing the independent evaluation. This evaluation shall be completed within 15 business days of appointment unless two qualified faculty members or subject matter experts need to be identified external to GW. In this case, the evaluation shall be completed within 25 business days.
The grade(s) that result from these independent evaluations shall be communicated to the Provost who will then determine the grade to replace the grade previously given. Should the revised grade(s) result in a change to the overall grade received for the course, the overall course grade shall be corrected as well. The remedy that is implemented will be communicated to the respondent after it has been implemented.
F. Retaliation of any kind, by either party will not be tolerated and, should be reported immediately to the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or a designee. Such action will be referred to the appropriate university office and may result in disciplinary action.
G. Any person may recuse themselves from performing any of the functions outlined in these procedures if they have a conflict of interest. In that event, the matter will be referred to the Provost or designee who shall designate another university official to perform one or more of the functions outlined in these procedures.
III. Changes or Amendments to these Procedures
The Faculty Senate, the Joint Committee of Faculty and Students, and the Student Association Senate shall be consulted before any substantial changes are made to these Procedures.
Revised effective January 1, 2022.