Article 2: Academic Rights and Responsibilities

I. Preamble

The freedom and effectiveness of the educational process depend upon the provision of appropriate conditions and opportunities for learning in an environment that is supportive of diversity among ideas, cultures, and student characteristics. The responsibility to secure, respect, and protect such opportunities and conditions is shared by all members of the academic community. The primacy of the faculty’s role and its centrality in the educational process must be recognized and preserved. The primary intellectual purpose of the University — its intellectual content and integrity — is the responsibility of the faculty.

The establishment and maintenance of the proper relationship between instructor and student are fundamental to the University’s function, and require both instructor and student to recognize the rights and responsibilities which derive from it. The relationship between instructor and student as individuals should be founded on mutual respect and understanding together with shared dedication to the educational process.

II. Role of the Faculty in the Instructional Process

A. No provision for the rights of students can be valid which suspends the rights of the faculty. The student’s right to competent instruction must be reconciled with the rights of the faculty, consistent with the principle that the competency of a professional can be rightly judged only by professionals.  It is, therefore, acknowledged and mandated that competence of instruction shall be judged by the faculty.

B. Faculty shall have authority and responsibility for academic policy and practices in areas such as degree eligibility and requirements, course content and grading, classroom procedure, and standards of professional behavior in accordance with the Bylaws for Academic Governance, the Code of Teaching Responsibility, and other documents on faculty rights and responsibilities.

C. No hearing board established under this document shall interfere with the evaluation of a student that represents a course instructor’s good faith judgment of the student’s performance. In the event that an evaluation is determined to be based on inappropriate or irrelevant factors, as discussed in Section III.B.1 below, the dean of the relevant college shall cause the student’s performance to be reassessed and a good faith evaluation to be made.

D. The University shall provide appropriate and clearly defined channels for the receipt and consideration of student complaints concerning instruction. In no instance shall the competence of instruction form the basis for an adversarial proceeding before any of the judicial bodies established in this document.

III. Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

A. The student is responsible for learning and demonstrating mastery of the content and skills of a course of study, while participating actively in the course’s intellectual community, according to standards of performance established by the faculty.

B. The student has a right to academic evaluations that represent the course instructor’s good faith judgments of performance. Course grades shall represent the instructor’s professional and objective evaluation of the student’s academic performance. The student shall have the right to know all course requirements, including grading criteria, and course procedures at the beginning of the course. (See also the Code of Teaching Responsibility.)

1. To overcome the presumption of good faith, it must be demonstrated that an evaluation was based entirely or in part upon factors that are inappropriate or irrelevant to academic performance and applicable professional standards.1

2. The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.

3. The student shall be free to take reasoned exception to information and views offered in the instructional context, and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, without fear of penalty or reprisal.

4. The student’s behavior in the classroom shall be conducive to the teaching and learning process for all concerned.

5. The student has a right to be governed by educationally justifiable academic regulations and professional standards. The administering unit shall inform students in writing of such regulations, including codes of professional behavior, at the time of the student’s entry into the academic program.

6. The student has a right to accurate, timely, and clear information in writing at the time of entry into an academic program concerning (a) general academic requirements for establishing and maintaining an acceptable academic standing, (b) the student’s academic relationship with the University and the details of any special conditions that may apply, and (c) graduation requirements for the student’s academic program.

7. Students are responsible for informing themselves of University, college, department, and school requirements as stated in unit publications and in the University catalog. In planning to meet such requirements, students are responsible for consulting with their academic advisors.

8. The student has a right to protection against improper disclosure of his/her education records2 and personal information such as values, beliefs, organizational affiliations, and health. (See also Article 3.)

9. The student has a right to be protected from personal exploitation and to receive recognition for scholarly assistance to faculty.

10. The student and the faculty share the responsibility for maintaining professional relationships based on mutual trust and civility.

1 Academic performance includes meeting applicable professional standards when such standards are a component of the curriculum. Professional standards must be approved by the relevant academic unit and the dean and, in the case of college statements, the Office of the Provost. The development of such standards within academic units shall include student participation. The dean and the Office of the Provost shall consult with appropriate governance groups before approving professional standards.

2 See the MSU Access to Student Information Guidelines for information regarding confidentiality of student education records.