Rights and Freedoms of Students
In June 1967, a joint committee, composed of representatives from the American Association of University Professors, U.S. National Student Association, Association of American Colleges, and National Association of Women Deans and Counselors, met in Washington D.C., and drafted The Joint Statement on Rights and Freedom of Students, excerpts of which are published below. Since its formation, this document has been endorsed by each of its five national sponsors, as well as by a number of other professional bodies.
Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students and the general well being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and engage in a sustained and independent search for the truth. Institutional procedures for achieving these purposes may vary from campus to campus, but the minimal standards of academic freedoms of students outlined below are essential to any community of scholars. Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, on the campus, and in the larger community. Students should exercise their freedom with responsibility.
Monroe Community College subscribes to the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students and with regard to this document, emphasize the Preamble and Section II related to the rights and freedoms of students in the classroom. To protect the rights and freedoms of students and faculty members in keeping with this Joint Statement, we establish these procedures to provide for the orderly, fair, prompt resolution of perceived student academic grievances. These procedures are established to insure the due process, and the equitable treatment and protection of all parties involved in the perceived grievance.
Definition and Jurisdiction
The term academic complaint as used in this document shall mean a complaint by a student of Monroe Community College against a teacher of the College that is not related to grades. The term academic grievance as used in these procedures shall mean a complaint by a student at Monroe Community College against a teacher at the college that is related to academic evaluation. An academic complaint or grievance may be filed on the grounds that the rights and freedoms of the student in the classroom as described in the Joint Statement have been violated. In keeping with the intent and spirit of this statement, it is incumbent upon all parties involved to show respect, restraint, and responsibility in their efforts to resolve perceived complaints and/or grievances. It is incumbent upon faculty members to arrange meetings and conferences with the student in good faith, and to communicate decisions to the student in good faith.
In the Classroom (from Rights and Freedoms of Students)
The professor in the classroom and in conference should encourage free discussion, inquiry and expression as related to course content. Student performance should be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards. However, all students are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled. Students who have complaints about their academic rights and freedoms should follow the processes outlined below.
1. Academic Complaints that Not Grade Related. Students who have complaints related tot he classroom and/or their faculty have the right to share their concerns and seek resolution. The complaint process is listed below.
2. Protection Against Improper Academic Evaluation. Students should have protection through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation. The grievance process is listed below.
When the student believes there are grounds for an academic complaint, these procedures shall be followed by all parties. The failure of any College personnel at any level to communicate a decision to the aggrieved student within the proper time limits shall permit the student to proceed to the next step of the process. Students should note the process is not anonymous.
All academic complaints should follow this process:
1. Students must attempt to resolve the concern directly with the appropriate faculty member. The student shall make an appointment with the faculty member to discuss the concern outside of class time (not before, during or after class).
2. If the faculty member is not available in a timely manner or the student is not satisfied with the outcome of that meeting, the student shall make an appointment to speak with the faculty member's department chair. Some departments require a written statement of the complaint. The department chair will initiative the resolution process by investigating the complaint within five (5) working days. *
3. If the student feels the complaint has not been resolved by the department chair, the student shall make an appointment with the faculty member's academic dean within ten (10) working days.
4. If the complaint has not been resolved at the dean level, the student may submit a written appeal to the Provost and Vice President, Academic Vice President (hereafter "the Provost") within (10) working days from receipt of the decision by the dean. The appeal must reasonably establish that:
a. The established procedures were not properly followed; or
b. An adequate opportunity to present evidence was not allowed; or
c. The evidence was not substantial enough to justify the decision or resolution.
5. The Provost will issue a written decision within five (5) working days. The decision is final.
*"Working day" is defined as any day (Monday-Friday) that the College is officially open.
When the student believes there are grounds for an academic grievance, these procedures shall be followed by all parties. The failure of any College personnel at any level to communicate a decision to the aggrieved student within the proper time limits shall permit the student to proceed to the next step of the process. The failure of the student to appeal the grievance to the next step within the proper time limits shall constitute a withdrawal of the grievance and shall bar further action.
Students cannot grieve a grade in a course from which they have completed a student initiated withdrawal. Once the student initiated withdrawal has been completed it cannot be revoked. Students may file a grievance regarding a faculty-initiated withdrawal. Students have the right to remain in class during the grievance process and are responsible for attending class and completing assigned work.
For due cause, the Provost/Vice President for Academic Services (hereafter “the Provost”) may extend the withdrawal deadline for a student initiating an academic grievance.
I. Initial Informal Procedures
The student shall initiate the informal procedure within (10) working days after the student has received information about a condition on which the grievance is based. For due cause, the Provost may extend this time requirement. The student is responsible for assuring that pertinent contact information is updated on the college system.
The student shall meet with the faculty member to discuss and to attempt to resolve the grade dispute. If the student is unable to meet with the faculty member, the perceived grievance may be discussed in a meeting with the faculty member's Department Chairperson. The student should be prepared to verify that they attempted to contact the faculty member via a dated email or contact with the department office. If still not satisfied, the student may institute a formal academic grievance procedure.
II. Formal Academic Grievance Procedures
Within (20) working days* - after the student has received information on which the grievance is based, the student shall meet with a College Academic Grievance Advisor assigned by the Assistant to the Vice President of Academic Services (A2VP) to discuss the disputed grade. The student can only institute the formal academic grievance procedure after the conferences with the faculty member and the department chairperson. For due cause, the Provost may extend this time requirement. The Academic Grievance Advisor shall counsel the student regarding the grounds for the grievance and shall explain the formal academic grievance procedures. Faculty members may also choose to meet with an Academic Grievance Advisor for guidance and advice regarding the grievance procedure.
III. Academic Grievance Submission
Should the student desire to pursue the grievance, the Advisor shall assist the student in completing the necessary forms.
The Academic Grievance Advisor shall promptly distribute copies of the completed, written grievance to the
(1) Aggrieved student
(2) Faculty member being grieved
(3) Faculty member's Department Chairperson
(4) Faculty member’s Academic Grievance Advisor (if applicable)
(5) Faculty member's Academic Dean or other Academic Dean hearing the grievance case
(6) Provost via the A2VP
The academic status of the student, pending the outcome of the grievance, shall be determined by the Provost or designee.
IV. Formal Academic Grievance Meeting
Academic Deans will hear the grievance case unless it is determined that the grievance case is a conflict. If the grievance is deemed a conflict, the Provost will select another Dean to hear the case. Within (10) working days, the Division Dean or the other Academic Dean hearing the case shall:
V. Appeal of Dean's Decision
(1) Arrange one meeting in which the Academic Dean (acting as a mediator), Chairperson, student and faculty member(s) will discuss and attempt to resolve the grievance. Attendance at this meeting by anyone other than the parties listed above, including anyone trained in the law, is not permitted.
(2) Prepare a written report which describes the steps taken and the rationale for the Dean's decision rendered regarding the student's grievance, and
(3) Distribute copies of this written report to
(a) Aggrieved student
(b) Student's academic grievance advisor
(c) Faculty member
(d) Faculty member’s academic grievance advisor (if applicable)
(e) Faculty member's chairperson
(f) Provost (via A2VP)
If the grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of the student, the appeal paperwork and process is provided by the student’s Academic Grievance Advisor. The Grievance Advisor will provide copies of the appeal form to the same parties listed in step III via email and interoffice mail within three (3) working days after the Dean’s decision has been communicated in writing. For due cause, the Provost may extend these time requirements.
VI. Formal Grievance Hearing
The College Academic Grievance Hearing Committee (hereafter referred to as the Committee) shall be appointed by the Provost within five working days of receiving the paperwork. For due cause, the Provost may extend this time requirement. In addition to the student and the named faculty member (the principals), the committee shall consist of
(1) one full-time teaching faculty member with experience in the Grievance Hearing process to serve as a committee’ chairperson
(2) one full-time teaching faculty member from a School managed by the Academic Dean who heard the grievance case in step IV
(3) one full-time faculty member from a School not managed by the Academic Dean who heard the grievance case in step IV
(4) one full-time faculty member from the Student Services division
(5) two student members (all attempts will be made to include students from multiple campuses)
The principals have the right to review the membership of the Committee before the hearing begins and to request the replacement of any one member of the Committee. Any additional request for the replacement of any other member of the Committee requires that either principal submit the reasons in writing to the Provost via the A2VP. The Academic Dean who previously rendered a decision during step IV and the faculty member’s chairperson will also be invited to the hearing.
Both principals have the right to the presence of one advocate from within the college community during the formal hearings.*** The college community is defined as the employees and students at the institution currently or within the last 12 months. These persons shall not include anyone trained in the law. Such persons will act as a support person to the student or faculty and, during the Hearing, and will be present to offer personal guidance and support as the need arises. Such persons are not present to argue the student or faculty member’s case.
*** Academic Grievance Advisors will explain how to select a support person.
The A2VP shall arrange for the selection of a meeting date, provide grievance related materials, and set the agenda for the Hearing but shall not serve on the Committee. The Committee has the responsibility of rendering a decision about the grievance. To this end, written and oral statements may be initiated and/or solicited from the principals in the grievance, and/or from other observers who can provide pertinent information about the matter. If new evidence has been identified, it may be presented at this time.
Within ten (10) working days of the student’s written appeal in step V, the Committee shall complete its business. The final recommendations of the Committee are to be presented in writing to the Provost within two (2) working days after the completion of the deliberations of the Committee. Copies of any meeting notes and all documents submitted shall be retained for six (6) years after the decision is rendered.
VII. Final Decision
The Provost shall review the recommendations of the Committee. If the Provost finds the recommendation and the proceedings complete, reasonable, and just, the results shall be binding upon both principals. If there is some cause to question the recommendation or proceedings of the Committee, the Provost shall send any statements of concern in writing back to the Committee for deliberation and resolution. The Committee shall promptly submit its response in writing to the Provost who shall make the final decision. The final decision and supportive rationale shall be communicated in writing within five (5) working days (which may be extended for due cause) by the Provost to the principals, the appropriate Academic Dean, and to the Chairperson of the Committee. This written decision constitutes the final step in the resolution of the grievance within the institution.
VIII. Statement of Record
After receiving the final decision, either principal shall have the right to file statement with the Provost for purposes of record only. This statement must be submitted within five (5) working days of the Provost's decision.