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Updated 12:15 PM June 6, 2005




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Student rights and responsibilities statement changes

Language to clarify procedures and make protections more explicit are among the changes to the University's Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, recently announced by the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR).

The revisions, which will take effect July 1, amend the statement, which sets forth University values and expectations for conduct, and is intended to maintain the best learning environment for students. The biannual cycle for making changes to the statement recently concluded, according to Keith Elkin, OSCR director.

Additions to the statement include:

• Language describing the extensive procedural protections provided by the University to students at meetings and hearings under the statement;

• Language outlining the existing practice of offering students an informal resolution option;

• A University definition of sexual harassment so that students may have a better understanding of prohibited conduct;

• Language that allows consideration of bias towards a protected group in the process of formulating a sanction.

The statement also now addresses:

• Broadening of the scope of cases in which mediation is an option to meet the needs of students; and

• Clarifying language to ensure students understand that the dean of students has the authority to review sanctions, but not findings of fact.

An amendment also was approved suggesting that the University president communicate her or his decision regarding amendment proposals during the regular academic year, with a rationale to be included for those proposals not supported.

Proposals to amend the statement are reviewed every two years by the Student Relations Advisory Committee (SRAC). The committee of faculty, staff and students, passes its recommendations to President Mary Sue Coleman for approval.

Coleman approved all of this year's SRAC recommendations, including one recommending she not support a proposal that students be allowed advocates at hearings that may result in expulsion, Elkin says. The committee's rationale was that the use of advocates in the process reduces its educational value, Elkin explains.

"Moreover, the University would need to have advocates present as well, eroding intended teaching and learning opportunities the process involves," he says.

The statement is posted on the OSCR Web site at

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