Carnegie Mellon University
Students' Rights

Students' Rights

Harassment and assault

The department values diversity in terms of sex, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identification, religion, handicap or disability, age, ancestry, national origin, and veteran status. The department is committed to maintaining a professional, friendly, and safe environment in which all students are free from unwanted sexual advances, harassment, taunting, or any other inappropriate behavior from faculty, students, staff, or visitors.

We encourage any student that has a concern or that has been the victim of sexual harassment to make contact with the Department Head immediately. If for any reason, the student is uncomfortable contacting the Department Head, they may also make contact with the Director of Graduate Studies, any faculty member of the philosophy department faculty, or the Dean's office. All students, faculty, and staff are subject to the Carnegie Mellon policy on sexual harassment and sexual assault, and are also free to pursue formal or informal resolution of any issue through the various channels listed in the policy document.

Communication with faculty

Students are invited to raise academic or personal issues with any faculty member. Nevertheless, there may be situations where direct interaction with a particular faculty member is difficult for a student. In such a situation, all graduate students should be aware that addressing such issues is a major part of the duties of both the Department Head and Director of Graduate Studies. All such complaints or concerns will be handled in complete confidence.

A second vehicle for communication is the department's graduate student representative, elected by the students. The representative serves as a formal link between graduate students and faculty. The student representative participates in all the general meetings of the department and, in particular, assists in discussions of proposed curricular changes and provides student input concerning faculty who are candidates for promotion or tenure.

Grievance procedures

Departmental procedures

Graduate students are encouraged to discuss concerns with any faculty member, especially their advisors, the Director of Graduate Studies, or the Department Head. The department tries to solve problems informally; it is rare that a problem cannot be resolved through informal procedures. In the event that a problem cannot be resolved through informal channels, however, there is a formal grievance procedure.

An investigative process commences when a student files a formal grievance in writing with the Department Head. The grievance is heard by a three-person board including the Department Head, a member of the Student Advisory Committee and a department faculty member or suitable substitutes, as determined by the Department Head. The board renders a written recommendation, with copies sent to the student, the Dean's office, and those against whom the grievance was brought (if specific individuals are involved). No person against whom the grievance is brought has a role in investigating it.

If the Department Head is among those against whom the grievance is brought, then the Dean is asked to designate another senior faculty member from the department to substitute for the Department Head on the three-person board. University policies and agreements governing student, staff, and faculty rights supersede this departmental procedure. If a satisfactory settlement is not reached through the activity of the three-person board described above, the student may bring the grievance to the Dean and, subsequently, to the Provost. In this case the departmental board's written recommendation is made a part of the preliminary background information reviewed by the Dean or Provost or other university official before any action is taken.

Note: This grievance procedure is not intended for the resolution of any issue that pertains to discrimination on the basis of any protected category in Title IX (e.g. racial discrimination or discrimination on the basis of sex including sexual harassment). Any student that wishes to file a formal complaint of this sort should contact a Title IX coordinator listed in this document.

Dietrich College procedures

Graduate students are encouraged to discuss their concerns with members of their academic department. If they wish, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Dean are also available at any stage of the process. All discussions will be considered confidential.

Any graduate student who has exhausted normal grievance procedures within the department may present a grievance to the office of the Dean of the college. The Dean may request statements or testimony from other parties involved, and will consider the grievance in an ad hoc committee composed of the Dean, a faculty member from a department not involved in the grievance and a graduate student from a second uninvolved department. The committee will present its decision in writing to all parties involved.

University procedures

The Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education serves as the advocate for graduate students in the central administration and as the Ombudsman for Graduate Students. She encourages graduate students to discuss matters with her if they believe it might be inappropriate to raise them at the department or college level. Students are likewise encouraged to speak directly to their graduate student representatives and to the president of the Graduate Student Assembly.

If a conflict cannot be resolved at the department or college level, an appeal may be made to the Provost at the request of one of the parties involved. The Provost will handle the case according to appropriate policies and processes.