Article 1: Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities at Michigan State University

1.1   Michigan State University is a community of scholars whose members include its faculty, staff, students, and administrators. The basic purposes of the University are the advancement, dissemination and application of knowledge. The most basic condition for the achievement of these purposes is freedom of expression and communication. Without this freedom, effective sifting and testing of ideas cease, and research, teaching, and learning are stifled. Knowledge is as broad and diverse as life itself, and the need for freedom is equally broad. Yet absolute freedom in all aspects of life means anarchy, just as absolute order means tyranny. Both anarchy and tyranny are antithetical to the purposes and necessities of the University. Therefore, the University always must strive to strike that balance between maximum freedom and necessary order that best promotes the University’s basic purposes by providing an environment most conducive to the many faceted activities of instruction, research, and service.

1.2   Each right of an individual places a reciprocal responsibility upon others: the responsibility to permit the individual to exercise the right. The graduate student, as a member of the academic community, has both rights and responsibilities. Within that community, the graduate student’s most essential right is the right to learn. The University has a duty to provide for the graduate student those privileges, opportunities and protections that best promote the learning process in all its aspects. The graduate student has duties to other members of the academic community, the most important of which is to refrain from interference with those rights of others which are equally essential to the purposes and processes of the University.

1.3   Regulations governing the activities and conduct of graduate students individually or collectively should not be comprehensive codes of desirable conduct; rather, they should be limited to the prescription of procedures for meeting the practical, routine necessities of a complex community and to the prohibition or limitations of acts that cannot be tolerated because they seriously interfere with the basic purposes and processes of the academic community, or with rights essential to other members of the community.

1.4   The graduate student is not only a member of the academic community, but also a citizen of the larger society who retains those rights, protections, and guarantees of fair treatment held by all citizens, which the University may not deny. The enforcement of the graduate student’s duties to the larger society is, however, the responsibility of the legal and judicial authorities duly established for that purpose.


1.5   To protect graduate student rights and to facilitate the definition of graduate student responsibilities at Michigan State University, the following guidelines shall apply to those stipulations and conditions by which graduate student conduct is regulated, broadly referred to as “regulations” in the remainder of this Article.

1.5.1   There shall be no regulation unless there is a demonstrable need that is reasonably related to the basic purposes and necessities of the University as stipulated herein.

1.5.2   To the maximum extent feasible, graduate students shall participate in formulating and revising regulations governing graduate student rights and responsibilities.

1.5.3   All regulations governing graduate student rights and responsibilities shall be made public in an appropriate manner.

1.5.4   Every regulation shall be as brief, clear, and specific as possible.

1.5.5   Wherever rights conflict, regulations shall, to the maximum extent feasible, permit reasonable scope for each conflicting right by defining the circumstances of time, place, and means appropriate to its exercise.

1.5.6   Regulations shall respect the free expression of ideas and shall encourage competition of ideas from diverse perspectives.

1.5.7   Procedures and penalties for the violation of regulations shall be designed for guidance or correction of behavior only.

1.5.8   Penalties shall be commensurate with the seriousness of the offense. Repeated violations may justify increasingly severe penalties.

1.5.9   There shall be clearly defined channels and procedures for the appeal and review of:

a. The finding of a violation of a regulation.

b. The reasonableness, under the circumstances, of the penalty imposed for a specific violation.

c. The substance of a regulation or administrative decision that is alleged to be inconsistent with the guidelines in this document.

d. The lack of adherence to the applicable procedures in the adjudication.

1.5.10   Every regulation shall specify to whom it applies and whether responsibility for compliance lies with graduate students either individually or collectively.

1.6   A handbook of the University’s current regulations and structures relating to student rights and responsibilities shall be made available to every member of the academic community.