The University Record, September 14, 1992

Sampling of most common questions

Student Affairs staff have drafted responses to the 20 most frequently asked questions about the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. A sampling of those appears here. Copies of the complete document are available in Room 6015, Fleming Administration Building.

Why do we need a policy on student rights and responsibilities?

This proposed policy was developed to help improve the quality of life for Michigan students. The University has experienced an increase in dangerous, destructive and discriminatory behavior by some students, which affects the learning environment for everyone. The proposed policy asks students to take direct responsibility for setting reasonable standards of behavior and for helping to ensure that these standards are upheld.

Why aren’t faculty and staff included in this policy?

Faculty and staff are expected to uphold high standards of professional conduct. Faculty and staff are held accountable for their actions, but the procedures for disciplinary action are different because different laws and policies apply to various employee job families. Complaints against faculty and staff can and do lead to action up to and including dismissal from the University.

Why aren’t all prohibited acts specifically spelled out in the policy?

Instead of spelling out a long list of prohibitions, as many public university policies do, the statement asks Michigan students to decide for themselves what they think basic community norms should be.

Has this type of student self-governance been tried elsewhere?

Yes. Many private peer universities have similarly brief statements of principle accompanied by a student-governed hearing process and they have functioned well for many years. Most public universities fully set out all prohibited behavior and often rely on administrative hearings rather than student self-governance. We believe Michigan students will live up to the challenge of the less specific restrictive policy. It is worth noting that no other major university in America is without any policies and procedures.

Does this replace the 1989 Policy on Discrimination and Discriminatory Conduct?

Yes. A recent Supreme Court ruling in another case has rendered key provisions of the interim policy unenforceable.

Does the statement cover discrimination and harassment?

Yes. The University is committed to combating discrimination. The U-M is a public institution and its student organizations must abide by the same legal guidelines that govern the institution as a whole.

The proposed policy prohibits discrimination against any individual or group, in any publicly supported activity, opportunity or organization on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, or veteran’s or marital status.

Harassment that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work, educational performance or living environment also is a violation of the standards set forth in the policy.

Will the draft statement be revised to take into account student comment?

Yes. Some very good suggestions have been received and will be incorporated in the next draft.

Will students be informed about how the policy is working?

Reports on the implementation of the policy will be issued at the end of fall and winter terms. These will be widely publicized and disseminated.

What voice will students have next year in deciding whether the policy should be made permanent?

During summer 1993, the policy and its implementation will be fully evaluated and a report issued to the University community in early fall 1993. Extensive community consultation and discussion will follow, leading to a decision about whether or not to amend and/or adopt the policy.

Why is off-campus behavior included? Does the University have any authority to regulate off-campus behavior of students?

Off-campus behavior is included because so many students live off campus, in close proximity to the University, and the quality of life and learning can be profoundly affected in that environment. The courts have consistently held that universities do have the authority to apply standards to off-campus conduct.