Dealing With Conflicts

Conflicts sometimes arise between students or between students and faculty, and we urge all parties to try to resolve their differences respectfully and professionally.

There are official grievance procedures specified in the Graduate Handbook for some kinds of cases, such as disputes about grades, discrimination, or harassment. Grade appeals from graduate students should be made directly to the department chair. Appeals of other kinds of academic decisions should follow the process for appealing academic decisions defined by the Graduate School. Cases of discrimination or harassment should be directed to the Office of Equity/Diversity Services. With these more serious cases, you may find it useful to seek advice from the department chair or from the associate chair for graduate studies.

For other kinds of conflicts, the process is much more informal. If you feel concerned about something, but feel you can’t talk directly to the other parties involved, seek out someone you trust for advice. If, for example, you have a conflict with another student in a class, you might discuss it with the instructor confidentially before things get worse. If you have a conflict with an instructor, you can talk confidentially to your program coordinator, or to the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, and they can advise you in full confidence. You can even seek out a former instructor you trust to get advice on how to proceed.

UWM recently created the Ombuds Council through the Office of Conflict Resolution, designed as an independent, informal, neutral, and confidential forum for conflict resolution. They can advise you on options, clarify existing policies, and mediate conversations.