The University Record, September 14, 1992

Survey respondents support concept of rights policy

By Jane R. Elgass

Of the 2,948 students who had responded by Sept. 11 to a questionnaire on a Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, 88.7 percent support the concept. Negative responses were given by 9.5 percent of the respondents. the remaining students either were unsure or did not answer the question “In general, do you support the idea of a statement on student rights and responsibilities like the draft enclosed?”

Respondents are somewhat less supportive of a student-administered judiciary, with 83.4 percent approving, 12.3 percent not approving and the rest unsure or not answering.

“They are overwhelmingly, almost frighteningly, supportive [of the concept], and many contained wise questions and thoughtful comments—some as lengthy as five typed pages,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Maureen A. Hartford.

Hartford has been working on the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities since last spring. In August, copies of the proposed statement and a questionnaire were mailed to all students who enrolled for fall term.

Hartford will continue this week and next to solicit reactions of students and others. She will host two town meetings—at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Chrysler Center on North Campus and Sept. 23 in Auditorium 3, Modern Languages Building—and will continue meetings with representatives of student groups and of faculty and administrators. Copies were mailed to faculty members the first week of September.

Eleven teams of Student Affairs staff members will be available to talk to student groups about the statement, and the Institute for Social Research is training staff members to do a brief follow-up phone survey of students to determine the validity of the questionnaire.

Hartford says she can’t generalize much since the survey was not a scientific one, but that good questions have been raised.

“Most of the students favor the overall concept but are concerned about parts of the statement that are vague. The section on the hearing panel drew a great many comments,” she says. “Most support some sort of hearing panel. Many commented that they don’t feel they would get a fair shake with an all-student panel.”

Hartford notes that a number of returning students responded “yes” when asked if they had experienced anything at the University that would be covered by the policy. In addition, a number expressed concern about the lack of a faculty policy, asking what would happen if they were harassed by a faculty member. Hartford says she is working with Ejner J. Jensen and other members of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs to address that issue.

Concern also was raised about the timeliness of a hearing and protection of the victim, particularly if the incident involved violence, suggesting that those situations must be dealt with in a more expedient manner.

Copies of the questionnaire and all of the student responses are available for review in Hartford’s office, 6015 Fleming Administration Building, as are materials that provide the basis for the statement such as laws, policies and court decisions.

She hopes to have a finished statement in place by mid-October, using this academic year to test it and its procedures.