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I - Statement on Rights & Responsibilities of Students

In this Section

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 are encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth.
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.
The responsibility to secure and to respect general conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the academic community. To foster such conditions, Clarkson may regulate the conduct of its students when such conduct constitutes a hazard or an infringement on the rights of others, violation of the law, or a disruption of the academic and administrative processes of the University. Student organizations recognized by the University are subject to the same regulations as individual students.


In the Classroom
The professor in the classroom and in conference encourages free discussion, inquiry and expression. Student performance in the classroom is evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.

  • Protection of Freedom of Expression

Students are free to take reasoned exception in a reasonable manner to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled.

  • Protection Against Improper Academic Evaluation

Students have protection through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation. At the same time, they are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled.

Student Records

Clarkson has a carefully considered policy as to the information that is a part of a student's permanent educational record and as to the conditions of its disclosure. To minimize the risk of improper disclosure, academic and disciplinary records are separate. Transcripts of academic records contain only information about academic status. Information from transcripts, disciplinary or counseling files is not available to unauthorized persons on campus, or to any person off campus without the express consent of the student involved, in accordance with applicable law. Provision is also made for periodic routine destruction of noncurrent disciplinary records. Administrative staff and faculty members will respect confidential information about students that they acquire in the course of their work.

Student Affairs
In student affairs, certain standards must be maintained if the freedom of students is to be preserved.

a. Freedom of Association

Students bring to the campus a variety of interests previously acquired and develop many new interests as members of the academic community. They should be free to organize and join associations to promote their common interests.
  • The membership, policies, and actions of a student organization usually will be determined by vote of only those persons who hold bona fide membership in the University community.
  • Affiliation with an extramural organization should not of itself disqualify a student organization from University recognition.
  • Each organization should be free to choose its own adviser. Campus advisers may advise organizations in the exercise of responsibility, but they do not have the authority to control the policy of such organizations.
  • Student organizations may be required to submit a statement of purpose, criteria for membership, rules of procedures, a current list of officers, and name of adviser(s). They are not required, except in the case of social fraternities and sororities, to submit a membership list as a condition of University recognition.
  • Campus organizations, including those affiliated with an extramural organization, are open to all students without respect to race, creed or national origin, except for religious qualifications that may be required by organizations whose aims are primarily sectarian to the extent permitted by applicable law.

Freedom of Inquiry and Expression

  • Students and student organizations are free to examine and to discuss all questions of interest to them, and to express opinions publicly and privately. They are free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the University. At the same time, it should be made clear to the academic and the larger community that in their public expressions or demonstrations students or student organizations speak only for themselves.
  • Student organizations are allowed to invite and to hear any person of their own choosing. Only University-recognized organizations, academic departments, faculty, and administration are permitted to use University facilities to hold meetings and sponsor speakers. During the nonacademic periods of the fall and spring semesters, community nonprofit and politically nonpartisan organizations may be permitted to use the University facilities at the discretion of the Student Activities director. Those routine procedures required by the University before a guest speaker is invited to appear on campus are designed only to ensure that there is orderly scheduling of facilities and adequate preparation for the event, and that the occasion is conducted in a manner appropriate to an academic community. The University's control of campus facilities is not to be used as a device of censorship. Sponsorship of guest speakers does not necessarily imply approval or endorsement of the views expressed, either by the sponsoring group or the University.

  • Student Participation in University Government

 As constituents of the academic community, students are free, individually and collectively, to express their views on issues of University policy and on matters of general interest to the student body. The student body has clearly defined means to participate in the formulation and application of University policy affecting academic and student affairs. The role of the student government and both its general and specific responsibilities are explicit, and the actions of the student government within the areas of its jurisdiction should be reviewed only through orderly and prescribed procedures.

Student-Edited and -Written Publications

Student publications, including literary publications and the student press, are a valuable aid in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration on the campus. They are a means of bringing student concerns to the attention of the faculty and the University authorities and of formulating student opinion on various issues on the campus and in the world at large.

The student newspaper is independent financially and legally separate from the University. Clarkson is not responsible in any way for the contents or format of the student newspaper. Students have editorial freedom and financial autonomy for the student publications to maintain their integrity of purpose as vehicles for free inquiry and free expression in an academic community.

University authorities, in consultation with students and faculty, may provide guidance as to the role of the student publications, the standards to be used in their evaluation, and the limitations on external control of their operation. At the same time, the editorial freedom of student editors and managers entails corollary responsibilities to be governed by the canons of responsible journalism, such as the avoidance of libel, indecency, undocumented allegations, attacks on personal integrity, and the techniques of harassment and innuendo. As safeguards for the editorial freedom of student publications, the following provisions are necessary:

  • The student press is free of censorship and advance approval of copy, and its editors and managers are free to develop their own editorial policies and news coverage.
  • Editors and managers of student publications are protected from arbitrary suspension and removal because of student, faculty, administrative or public disapproval of editorial policy or content. Only for proper and stated causes should editors and managers be subject to removal and then by orderly and prescribed procedures. The agency responsible for the appointment of editors and managers is the agency responsible for their removal.
  • All University-published and -financed student publications should explicitly state on the editorial page that the opinions there expressed are not necessarily those of the University or student body.

Off-Campus Freedom of Students

  • Exercise of Rights of Citizenship

University students are both citizens and members of the academic community. As citizens, students enjoy the same freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, and right of petition that other citizens enjoy and, as members of the academic community, they are subject to the obligations that accrue to them by virtue of this membership. Faculty members and administrative officials ensure that University powers are not employed to inhibit such intellectual and personal development of students as is often promoted by the exercise of the rights of citizenship both on and off campus.

  • University Authority and Civil Penalties

Activities of students may upon occasion result in violation of the law. Students who violate the law may incur penalties prescribed by governmental authorities, but University authority will never be used merely to duplicate the function of general laws. Only where the University's interests as an academic community are distinct and clearly involved is the special authority of the University asserted. University action is independent of community pressure and is based on impairment of or interference with the missions, processes, safety or functions of the University.

  • Procedural Standards in Disciplinary Procedures

In developing responsible student conduct, disciplinary proceedings play a role substantially secondary to example, counseling, guidance and admonition. At the same time, educational institutions have the duty and the corollary disciplinary powers to protect their educational purpose through the setting of standards of scholarship and conduct for the students who attend them and through the regulation of the use of institutional facilities. In the exceptional circumstances when the preferred means fail to resolve problems of student conduct, proper procedural safeguards should be observed to protect the student from the unfair imposition of serious penalties.

The administration of discipline should guarantee procedural fairness to an accused student. In all situations, procedural fair play requires that the student be informed of the nature of the charges against him or her, that he or she be given a fair opportunity to refute them, that the institution not be arbitrary in its actions, and that there be provision for appeal of a decision.