Navigating Professional Relationships: Resources for Graduate Students
Caltech strives to foster a supportive community where graduate students can work productively towards their academic aspirations. This document outlines the resources available to students if they encounter difficulties in their interactions with faculty, students, staff, or other members of the Caltech community, including guests and visitors.
In many cases, academic disputes or conflicts with a faculty advisor can be resolved through discussions with the option representative, division chair, thesis committee, or other relevant parties. When these informal routes do not lead to an acceptable resolution, students can contact the graduate deans for further assistance through the Student Problem Resolution Process. As a specific example, the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies can facilitate a productive dialog between the student and advisor through our conflict resolution process.
In some cases, a graduate student may have a grievance about harassment or abusive conduct by a faculty member, student, staff, or other members of the Caltech community, including guests and visitors. Depending on the conduct involved, the student should bring the grievance to either the Equity and Title IX Office or the Graduate Studies Office, as outlined below. Such cases are often complex, and students may be unsure which office is the proper one to handle the complaint. Students should feel free to consult with the Graduate Studies Office for advice and guidance.
1) Equity and Title IX Office
- Unlawful harassment as defined in Caltech's Unlawful Harassment and Abusive Conduct policy. Unlawful harassment towards an individual describes misconduct that is severe, persistent, or pervasive, and because of a protected characteristic.
- Unlawful sex-based and gender-based harassment or sexual misconduct as defined in Caltech's Sex- and Gender-Based Misconduct policy.
- The Equity and Title IX Office handles such grievances in accordance with their established procedures, which allow for informal and formal resolutions, depending on the facts and circumstances reported.
2) Graduate Studies Office
- Abusive conduct or bullying that does not meet the criteria for unlawful harassment but is nevertheless prohibited by Caltech's Unlawful Harassment and Abusive Conduct policy.
This policy provides the following examples of abusive conduct:
- repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, verbal epithets;
- physical conduct that can be considered threatening, intimidating, or humiliating;
- a single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.
- Students with such grievances should meet with one of the graduate deans for consultation.
- When warranted, the Graduate Dean may consult with the relevant Division chair about further steps.