Statement on Rights, Freedoms, & Responsibilities of Students
Approved by the full Board of Trustees on April 13, 1977, and printed in full in the April 29, 1977, issue of The Suffolk Journal. Drafted from a document approved by the Council of the American Association of University Professors, the US National Student Association, the Association of American Colleges, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and the National Association of Women in Education. The following Joint Statement on Rights, Freedoms, and Responsibilities of Students of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Sawyer Business School was approved by the Suffolk University Board of Trustees on April 13, 1977, and replaced the former code of justice.
Suffolk University exists for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of its students, and the well being of society.
A community devoted to free inquiry and free expression of opinion is indispensable to the attainment of these ends. The standards of academic freedom and responsibility set forth below represent the guiding principles for the attainment of these goals.
The principle of academic freedom applies equally to students and faculty and can only exist if the University environment provides for the constructive interaction between them. In the teaching-learning process, the faculty must be willing to have their ideas and understanding challenged by the students. However, students must recognize the scholarship of the faculty and be willing to work under their guidance.
Both students and faculty have academic responsibilities and each must recognize that the responsibilities of one affect the rights and privileges of the other.
Freedom of Access to Higher Education
Suffolk University is an academic community open to persons of all sexes, races, creeds, and countries of natural origin. Suffolk University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, veteran status, age, disability, gender identity, gender expression, or Vietnam-era or disabled-veteran status in its admissions and employment policies or in the administration and operation of all its programs and activities. Admission to the University is determined by institutional policies concerning the academic and personal qualifications and expectations of the students who apply for entrance. It is the University’s responsibility to provide full and complete information concerning the criteria to be applied in consideration of candidates for admission. Within the limits of its facilities, Suffolk University is open to all students who are qualified according to its admission standards.
Student Rights in Academic Evaluations
It is the responsibility of faculty members at Suffolk University, during all academic contacts with students, to encourage free discussion, inquiry, and expression. Student performance should be evaluated solely on an academic basis, and student opinion on matters unrelated to the academic course material should not be considered in evaluating student work in class.
Protection of Freedom of Expression
Suffolk University students should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion. Whatever the student’s view as to the course material offered, the student is responsible for learning the content of any course of study in which the student is enrolled.
Protection Against Improper Academic Evaluation
Suffolk University students are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled. The University has establish grievance procedures for academic grievances and complaints.
Protection Against Improper Use of Disclosure
Suffolk University faculty members will maintain the confidentiality of private statements made by a student that set forth or reveal the student’s views, beliefs, and political associations. Faculty members will not consider any such private statement in connection with the evaluation of a student’s academic performance.
Suffolk University maintains its student records in compliance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
Student Activities and Affairs
In the conduct of their lives outside the classrooms, the students of Suffolk University have certain specific rights and responsibilities, which are set forth below.
Freedom of Association
Students bring to the campus a variety of previously acquired interests and develop many new interests as members of this academic community. They should be free to organize and join associations in order to promote their common interests.
The membership, policies, and actions of a student organization may be determined only by a vote of those persons currently enrolled as students at Suffolk University.
Affiliation with an extramural organization will not, of itself, ordinarily disqualify a student organization from institutional recognition.
Where campus advisors are required for recognition, a student organization will be free to choose its own advisor. It is the role of the campus advisor to advise student organizations in the exercise of their responsibilities. Campus advisors do not have the authority to control the policy of student organizations.
Student organizations will not be permitted to use Suffolk University facilities nor to participate as members of the academic community without having been officially recognized by the University. Recognition of a student activity or organization will require that the organization submit a charter containing the statement of purpose, the criteria for membership, a set of rules and procedures for internal governance, and a current list of officers. Student organizations must file annually the names of advisors and officers with the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement. Student organizations shall not be required to submit a membership list as a condition of recognition.
No student organization will be recognized by the University if it discriminates among students on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, Vietnam-era or disabled veteran status, or academic class status except social fraternities and sororities, which may elect to limit membership to a single sex.
The University retains the right to withdraw recognition or to refuse to recognize a student organization that does not demonstrate its ability to accept the responsibilities of membership in the academic community. Withdrawal of recognition or refusal to recognize will take place only upon clear evidence that the student organization in question has violated specific responsibilities set forth for the student body of Suffolk University or has ceased to function as an organization, as defined by the director of Student Leadership and Involvement. No such action shall take place without providing the existing organization in question the right to be heard before the Student Government Association.
Freedom of Inquiry and Expression
The students of Suffolk University and the organizations recognized by the University shall be free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately on those questions. Students and student organizations shall be free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the academic community. When acting or expressing views on topics of interest to them, student members of the Suffolk University community shall make it clear to all members of the academic and larger community that, in their public expressions or demonstrations, the students and student organizations speak for themselves alone and do not, unless otherwise authorized, represent the University.
Suffolk University students may invite any person of their own choosing to speak before them and before student organizations. The University, however, maintains procedures to ensure the orderly scheduling of facilities, the adequate preparation of an event, and that the occasion is conducted in a manner appropriate to the academic community. Violation of these procedures is a breach of the responsibility of the students to the community. Whenever a student or student group invites a speaker to appear, the student group is responsible for informing the academic and larger communities that sponsorship of the speaker’s talk does not imply University approval or endorsement of the views expressed by the speaker.
Student Participation in Institutional Government
As constituents of the Suffolk University academic community, students are free, individually and collectively, to express their views on issues of institutional policy and on matters of interest to the student body. The University will respect the rights of its students to participate in the internal governance of the University.
Student Publications and Broadcasting Systems
Student publications, the student broadcasting system, and the student press are all valuable aids in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration on campus. They are a means of bringing student concerns to the attention of the faculty and the institutional authorities and of formulating student opinion on various issues on the campus and in the world at large.
Whereas financial and legal autonomy is not possible, Suffolk University, as the publisher of student publications, may have to bear the legal responsibility for the contents of the publication. In the delegation of editorial responsibility to students, Suffolk University must provide sufficient editorial freedom and financial autonomy for the student publications to maintain their integrity of purpose as vehicles for free inquiry and free expression in the academic community.
Institutional authorities, in consultation with students and faculty, have a responsibility to provide written explanation of the role of student publications, the standards to be used in their evaluation, and the limitations on external control of their operation.
As the editorial freedom entrusted to student editors and managers entails corollary responsibilities, their conduct is expected to comply to their best intent with the high standards of the code of ethics of Sigma Delta Chi (the Society of Professional Journalists).
The relationship between the University and its student publications will be governed by the following general standards and supplemental guidelines interpreting them:
- The student press should be free of censorship and advance approval of copy, and its editors and managers should be free to develop their own editorial policies and news coverage.
- Editors and managers of student publications and broadcasting systems should be protected from arbitrary suspension and removal because of student, faculty, administrative, or public disapproval of editorial policy or content. Editors and managers should only be subject to removal for proper stated causes, and then only by orderly and prescribed procedures.
- In the event that student editors or managers, through their willful failure to comply with the code of ethics of Sigma Delta Chi, expose the University to risk of financial loss, they may be censured or removed from office.
- No such determination shall be made unless the agency responsible for the appointment of editors (the Publications Selection Committee) determines such action is necessary.
The Media Selection Committee
Eligibility for Selection
To qualify as a candidate for the position of editor-in-chief or station manager, a student must be registered as a full-time, day undergraduate; must be in good academic standing at the time of application, selection, and tenure of office. Good academic standing dependent upon summer school or upon spring semester grades is not valid. A student must not be on disciplinary probation and must not be a candidate for an office in the Student Government Association.
Method of Selection
A candidate must submit an application and résumé to the Associate Director of Student Leadership & Involvement in which said candidate will outline his or her proposed editorial policy as well as all other information relevant to the position of editor-in-chief or station manager. A specific deadline for application will be announced early in the spring semester. Résumés must be typewritten.
The selection committee shall consist of seven (7) members, six (6) of whom shall be voting members, and a chairperson who shall vote only in the event of a tie. The chairperson shall be the Dean of Students. The six voting members shall be: the director of Student Leadership and Involvement, the associate director of Student Leadership and Involvement, the student organization advisor, the president of the Student Government Association or his/her designee, the president of the Senior Class or his/her designee and the outgoing editor-in-chief or station manager (if applicable). If the president of the Student Government Association and the president of the Senior Class are one and the same, he or she shall vote as the president of the Senior Class and the vice president of the Student Government Association shall become the sixth voting member.
The selection committee shall consist of six (7) members, six (6) of whom shall be voting members, and a chairperson who shall vote only in the event of a tie. The chairperson shall be the Dean of Students. The six voting members shall be: the director of Student Leadership and Involvement, the associate director of Student Leadership and Involvement, the student organization advisor, the president of the Student Government Association or his/her designee, the president of the Senior Class or his/her designee and the editor-in-chief or station manager. If the president of the Student Government Association and the president of the Senior Class are one and the same, he or she shall vote as the president of the Senior Class and the vice president of the Student Government Association shall become the sixth voting member.
The selection committee shall summon separately each candidate to elaborate on his or her resume and answer all other questions the committee deems relevant to his or her application for editor-in-chief or station manager. The committee shall, after reviewing the candidates, and with the approval of the Dean of Students select one as editor-in-chief or station manager. A simple majority of six (6) shall be sufficient for selection.
The new editor-in-chief or station manager shall be officially notified of his or her selection by the Dean of Students as soon as possible.
Time of Selection
The selection of the editor-in-chief or station manager shall take place in the spring semester, with specific timelines to be determined by the needs of the organization. If the Student Government Association elections are postponed, the selection of the editor-in-chief or station manager shall take place no more than one (1) week (seven school days) after such postponement, and the student government, as a committee of the whole, shall select two (2) non-graduating representatives in the place of the president of the Student Government Association and the president of the Senior Class.
Censure or Replacement of the Editor-in-Chief or Station Manager (Initiating a Hearing)
Any member of the University community who feels personally injured by conduct of a student editor or manager he or she deems to be in violation of the code of ethics of Sigma Delta Chi may request the Dean of Students to convene the Media Selection Committee. The Dean of Students may then convene the selection committee.
The Dean of Students will act as chairperson. The members of the Media Selection Committee will hear the complaint. The chairperson of the committee will describe to both parties the rules that will govern the hearing. It shall be the obligation of the Dean of Students to present credible evidence indicating that conduct of the person in question may have been a breach of the code of ethics of Sigma Delta Chi, and that a particular sanction may be appropriate.
The committee shall consider the evidence put before it only as it relates to a breach in the code of ethics of Sigma Delta Chi. The committee shall consider the importance of a free and active press and the need for free and vocal sources of information. The decision of the committee shall be final, and the chairperson of the committee will implement the decision of the committee, subject only to the student’s right of appeal to the president.
Replacement of the Editor-in-Chief or Station Manager
If for any reason the position of editor-in-chief or station manager is vacated, said position shall be replaced as soon as possible by the selection committee. Disciplinary probation for less than 11 days shall not be cause for removal of the editor-in-chief or station manager. There are no financial benefits.
Responsibilities of Student Members of Suffolk University
The students of Suffolk University are responsible for carrying out their activities in such a way that at all times the rights and freedoms of other members of the community are respected. While they enjoy the freedom of learning, they must respect the right of the teacher to express his or her views and professional beliefs freely and openly and without obstruction of any kind. A student who accepts membership in the Suffolk University academic community has a responsibility to prepare his or her work and to attend classes to the best of his or her ability. In using the facilities and properties of the University, each student must accept the responsibility for their proper care and preservation. As a member of an academic community, each student bears the responsibility of honoring the freedom of expression which is guaranteed to all members of this community.