Advocacy Services


Please see the Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty for specific grievance procedures if informal attempts at resolving an issue have not been successful. In sum, the grievance procedure outlines provisions and procedural steps for handling grievances involving serious disagreements between graduate students and faculty members. Examples of such complaints include alleged violations of the terms of written agreements and guidelines, alleged inequitable enforcement of graduate program requirements or unfair treatment, disagreements over the handling of unsatisfactory assistantship performance, and disputes over order of authorship in join publications. All conflict should be dealt with in a patient and sensitive manner that respects the dignity of the participants. More details about this process can be found in the grievances and complaints policy

In addition, students may seek out support through the Office of the University Ombudsman. The Ombudsman operates according to the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which includes independence, neutrality and impartiality, confidentiality, and informality. 

The Office of the University Ombudsman is a safe place where any member of the Cornell community can discuss academic or non-academic concerns. Some reasons graduate and professional students visit the office include difficulties with an advisor or graduate committee, ethical questions, harassment or bullying, unfair treatment, and others. An ombudsman can help to provide you with information on university policies and practices, assist you in evaluating available options, refer you to the proper authority to resolve the situation, coach you for a difficult conversation, and act as a nonjudgmental sounding board. To schedule an appointment, call 607-255-4321 or email

Finally, the Graduate School provides a complete list of confidential resources available to graduate students which can serve as advocates.

For students interested in the shared-governance experience at Cornell and want to help support the graduate student life experience, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GPSA) serves as an official voice for the around 8,800 graduate and professional students at Cornell. GPSA is charged with the following:

  • Represent graduate and professional student concerns to the university administration.
  • Advocate for graduate and professional students on issues including student resources, health care, insurance, transportation, and housing.
  • Allocate funds to graduate and professional student groups and set the Student Activity Fee.
  • Provide support for graduate and professional student programming.

More information about GPSA is found on the Assembly website.