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Student Bill of Rights

These are your student rights and responsibilities as part of the Whitworth community.

Whitworth Student Bill of Rights

(Spring 1989)

Preamble

The mission and goals of Whitworth imply certain basic rights that are extended to students and that are defined in this document. As members of the Whitworth community, we commit ourselves, both individually and corporately, to affirm and protect these rights through the responsible exercise of mature judgment and careful stewardship in all actions and decisions that affect the welfare of the institution and its members.

I. Declaration of Nondiscrimination

Whitworth complies with all federal, state, and local nondiscrimination laws that are applicable to religious nonprofit institutions and does not engage in unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. Although Whitworth University, in order to fulfill its mission, uses Christian commitment as a criterion in hiring faculty and staff, the university strives to provide a positive learning environment for all students, regardless of their religious commitments. Moreover, Whitworth University will not permit harassment of any kind. Finally, religious commitments have no influence in Whitworth's awarding or administering of financial aid.

II. Academic Life

  1. Students may assume that faculty will function in accordance with their professional rights and responsibilities as defined in the faculty handbook. This document is available to students for inspection.
  2. Students will be held responsible for the mastery of their course(s) of study through active participation and the achievement of requirements. Students may expect that all performance evaluations and grades will be based upon identified criteria and requirements that are readily accessible to them. Included within this, students may expect the following:
    1. freedom to express agreement or disagreement with presented course material, as long as such expression does not result in limiting their responsibility for the mastery of course content;
    2. access to their instructors;
    3. protection from biased and unfounded academic evaluations.
  3. Appeals regarding failure to meet any of these expectations should be directed first to the instructor, then to academic affairs' associate provost of instruction, and then to the provost of the faculty. Final appeal may be made to the Educational Review Board. No further right to appeal is granted.
  4. Students have the opportunity to participate in the regular evaluation and improvement procedure for instruction and curriculum. In part, this may be accomplished through student completion of course-evaluation forms. In addition, participation in committees dedicated to curricular evaluation and improvement and the submission of proposals regarding changes in curriculum is available to students via their delegates.

III. Confidentiality

  1. The university has a policy as to the information that is a part of a student's permanent file and to the conditions of disclosure. Disciplinary records are kept separate from academic records, are not available to unauthorized persons, and will be shared only with those at the university who have a legitimate need to know. Release of these records to external parties requires a student's written permission.
  2. Judgments as to the ability and character of a student may be provided under appropriate circumstances, with the knowledge and consent of the student to the extent possible or as required by law. In circumstances in which the threat of injury or danger to life or property constitute a health or safety emergency, the university has the right to disclose otherwise confidential information in accordance with FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

IV. Student Life

  1. Freedom of Association
    Students are free to organize and/or join any organization or association. However, the university is not bound to give institutional recognition, support or approval to organizations that operate in opposition to its stated mission or goals. Student organizations are guided by the following:
    1. Student organizations should be free to propose their own faculty advisors. Student organizations are required to submit a statement of purpose, criteria for membership and rules of procedure, as well as a list of officers.
  2. Freedom of Expression
    1. Students are free to examine and discuss all aspects of their education. Students are also free to support causes and give opinions as long as their means of expression is orderly and does not disrupt the regular operation of the institution.
    2. Institutionally recognized organizations shall be allowed to invite to and hear at open meetings any person of their choosing, as allowed in concert with the Club Chartering Policy. This right carries with it the responsibility to provide for the safety of the speaker, the audience, and institutional personnel and property in the event that the speaker's presence creates a disruption. The university must approve such safety provisions.
    3. Students should make it clear to the campus and surrounding community that in their expression of opinion and support of a cause they speak only for themselves, not for the university as a whole.
  3. Student Participation in the Institution
    1. As part of this educational community, students are free to express their views on issues of institutional policy and on any matter of interest to the student body. This right exists individually and collectively. Student membership on university committees is valued and encouraged.
    2. The role of student government and both its general and specific responsibilities should be made clear and should be followed as outlined in the constitution and bylaws.
  4. Student Media
    1. Free and responsible student discussion and expression in student-run publications and other media (e.g. the student-run radio station) are essential in formulating student opinion and in providing knowledge of student opinion and concerns to our community and to the academic world at large.
    2. Whitworth is publisher of registered student publications. The university is also the licensee of its online radio station, Whitworth.fm.
    3. The institution is committed to providing sufficient editorial freedom for student media to maintain their integrity as a form of student expression and free inquiry. The freedom afforded to student media, while not absolute, is broad and is protected as follows:
      1. Student media shall be free of unwarranted and indiscriminate censorship and advance approval of copy; such approval will be warranted when and if the university determines that any particular communication or publication might expose the university to litigation or damages.
      2. Editors and managers of student media are protected from arbitrary suspension and removal in response to student, faculty, administrative or public expressions of disapproval relating to the content of student media. Student editors/managers can be removed only in cases in which there is a violation of university policies or procedures relating to media operations or of any guidelines established by the individual media outlet at issue. In this event, the procedures for removal shall be those prescribed by the ASWU Media Review Board. Student editors/managers of student media remain subject to the institution's disciplinary policies and procedures with respect to any issues not relating to their service as editors/managers of student media.
      3. Student editors and managers shall exhibit the responsible exercise of the aforementioned freedoms, including avoidance of libelous writing and broadcasting, indecency, harassment and innuendo.

V. Procedural Standards in All Disciplinary Proceedings

Formal Grievance Procedures

Whitworth has the responsibility and the corresponding authority to protect and advance its educational mission through the establishment and enforcement of standards of scholarship and behavior for members of the Whitworth community. In the enforcement of these standards, proper procedural guidelines must be observed to provide students with fair proceedings and appropriate outcomes.

Behavioral policies, policies addressing conduct in scholarship, regular disciplinary procedures, guidelines for possible consequences, and procedures for exercising a student's right to appeal a decision should be communicated in advance. Such policies and procedures should be published in the student handbook. These procedural standards are as follows:

  1. Statement of Charges and Possible Consequences
    In all situations, students should be informed either orally or in writing of the nature of the charges against them, and should be assured that he university will not be arbitrary in its establishment of consequences should students be found responsible for what is charged.
  2. Confrontation
    In the event of a known or suspected violation of behavioral and/or scholastic policies, students should be confronted by a university official in a manner that incorporates a clear description of the alleged violation and allows for those accused to explain and/or clarify the incident in question. A record of confrontations should be kept in accordance with established procedures for use as evidence in subsequent disciplinary meetings.
  3. Investigation and Privacy
    1. If investigation of the incident in question is necessary before or after confrontation, such investigation should be done in a manner that respects the privacy of all persons involved. If search and/or seizure of personal property on campus property (including within a student's room) is deemed necessary, it should be done only in cases where reasonable cause is present and only with appropriate authorization granted by a university official. In such cases, “reasonable cause” should be interpreted as evidence sufficient to convince an agent of Whitworth that the policy is being violated and/or that the life or safety of an individual is in immediate danger. For premises not controlled by the university, the ordinary requirements for lawful search and seizure should be followed.
    2. In its effort to maintain the safety, health and general welfare of resident students, the university may perform routine general inspections under the supervision of residence life. To the extent reasonably possible, students should be advised in advance that an inspection will be conducted. Such inspections should involve only a general observation of a student's room, with no searching of personal effects (other than what is in plain view), as the primary intent of these inspections is to maintain health and safety standards. However, should evidence of policy violation be visible, the residence staff has the authority and responsibility to investigate (search and seize) evidence of such a violation and to initiate disciplinary action.
    3. All evidence, regardless of how it was obtained, is admissible in Whitworth disciplinary proceedings, but students should not be forced, coerced or tricked into providing evidence that could incriminate them.
  4. Disciplinary Meetings
    Meetings should take place in a timely fashion and in accordance with these guidelines. All such meetings should include a review of evidence pertaining to the alleged violation of policy and should be conducted by the associate dean of students or the assistant dean of student life, and attended by the confronted, the confronter(s) or a representative, any necessary witnesses, and appropriate representatives from student life. (Note: Special circumstances in cases of violent or destructive behavior described in “Behavioral Expectations.”) In addition, any student accused of a violation may bring a support person from the Whitworth community. This meeting should result in a determination of the student's responsibility or innocence based on whether the purported violation is more likely than not to have occurred. At this point, appropriate consequences will be applied. A written record of such hearings should be kept and copies distributed to those confronted. All actions taken within the disciplinary process are subject to students' right to appeal.
  5. Review
    A student may request a review of disciplinary proceedings and the resulting consequences by a regularly constituted review committee that includes both faculty and staff members. The committee should have a quorum to review a student's disciplinary proceeding or consequences. A quorum will constitute three people, including one faculty member and one staff member. The original hearing officer will not participate on the review committee. The committee will be chaired by a person chosen by the vice president for student life (or her/his designee).

    A student may request a review by contacting the vice president for student life (or a designee) within five business days of being notified of the outcome of the case. The request will be reviewed for timeliness and to ensure that the request cites one of the three reasons a student may request a review. Grounds for requesting a review are as follows:
    • A student believes the university did not follow the procedures as listed in the student handbook. Examples: 1) The student was not notified that a conduct meeting was going to take place. 2) The student was not given the opportunity to speak during the conduct meeting.
    • New information has been discovered that was not available at the time of the original conduct meeting. A summary of this new information and its potential impact must be included in the request for review. If new information is discovered after the five-day appeal time frame, a student is still encouraged to bring the new information forward.
    • A student believes that the sanctions are not consistent with and appropriate for the violation. Simple dissatisfaction with sanctions does not meet this ground for requesting a review.

      If the request for review meets the conditions of timeliness and grounds, the student, as well as the original hearing officer, will be notified. The hearing officer will have five business days from the time of notification to provide a rationale for the decision and sanction(s) for the case.

      The review committee can uphold the decision and sanctions, reduce the sanctions, or send the case back to the original hearing officer for further consideration. The chair will communicate the outcome of the review to the student and hearing officer in writing within five business days of the committee meeting. The committee's decision is final.
  6. Status of Students Pending Final Action:
    Pending action on charges or on an appeal, a charged student's admission status should not be altered, and his/her right to be present on the campus, to live in residence and to attend classes should not be suspended. Exceptions to this policy should be made when a charged student's presence constitutes a threat to his/her own physical or emotional safety, to the safety and well-being of other students, faculty and staff, to the ability of other students to engage freely in their educational activities, or to university or personal property. In those exceptional cases, duly authorized university officials may take action to remove the student pending final action.
  7. Appeal of Behavioral or Academic Suspension:
    As an outcome of standard disciplinary proceedings, policies addressing academic progress and/or the recommendation of the vice president for student life, the dean of the faculty, the associate dean of students, or academic affairs' associate provost of instruction, the Educational Review Board may consider the appeal of behavioral or academic suspension brought before its members. The decisions of the board should be based on the evidence presented, and a written record of such decisions should be kept and copies distributed in accordance with established policy. All decisions of the ERB are final and are not subject to appeal.

VI. Amendment

Policy amendments to this document can be proposed by ASWU, the Vice President of Student Life and/or the Student Life Committee and may be given to the president for submission to the board of trustees. Only the board of trustees can officially adopt such proposals.