DavidKinchen.com

Books, Travel, Entertainment and More

GUEST COMMENTARY Temple University Trustees Adopt Policy on Students’ Academic Rights

Posted by kinchendavid on July 24, 2006

By Sara Dogan

National Campus Director,

Students for Academic Freedom

Temple University has become the first university in America to adopt an academic freedom policy which specifically addresses student rights and not just faculty privileges; protects students from ideological abuses in the classroom; and provides a grievance machinery to handle violations of students’ academic freedom.

This breakthrough can become a powerful weapon in building the student movement for academic freedom which has seized the imaginations of college students across the country. In a referendum this spring, the student body of Princeton University voted for a student academic bill of rights. Both these events present a tremendous opportunity for us to win hearts and minds among students all across the country and to challenge the political abuse of university classrooms by academic radicals.

Titled “Student and Faculty Academic Rights and Responsibilities,” the new Temple policy will take effect on August 1 of this year. It reflects the concerns and recommendations of Students for Academic Freedom, which has promoted David Horowitz’s proposal for an Academic Bill of Rights, and which played an important role in the academic freedom hearings of the Pennsylvania House, which were held at Temple on January 9 and 10, 2006.

The policy emphasizes that students as well as professors are entitled to academic freedom:  “Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, on the campus, and in the larger community. The University and the faculty have a responsibility to provide students with opportunities and protections that promote the learning process in all its aspects. Students similarly should exercise their freedom with responsibility.”

Equally important is a provision creating grievance machinery for students whose rights have been infringed. The policy specifies that this new grievance procedure is distinct from existing policies for handling grading disputes, and specifically addresses the student’s right to learn, free from political harassment and indoctrination. It outlines a procedure whereby a student can take a series of informal and then formal steps to challenge violations of academic freedom within the administration hierarchy.

In a passage largely based on the American Association of University Professors’ 1940 “Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure” and the current Temple academic freedom policy outlines both the privileges and obligations that academic freedom demands of faculty in the classroom:

“Faculty are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial (or other) matter which has no relation to their subject. The faculty member is responsible, however, for maintaining academic standards in the presentation of course materials.”

The policy further provides for a reporting system that includes the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Unlike the existing academic freedom policies at Temple, the new policy will be included in the university catalogue that is distributed to all students. It has already been posted in the Policies and Procedures section of the university website so that all students will be made aware of their rights. This has been a prominent demand of the academic freedom campaign.

The policy can be found here: http://policies.temple.edu/getdoc.asp?policy_no=03.70.02

A Unique Opportunity

The passage of this policy is a unique opportunity to supporters of the academic freedom campaign to raise the demand for a student bill of rights on their own campuses.

Please contact me if you have any questions as to how to accomplish this. It is vital for our students to raise these issues and advance this cause.

The Temple policy is attached below.

We ask that our student leaders and alumni members take this policy to your University Presidents and Deans and to the Boards of Trustees of your campuses and ask that they formally adopt it and place it prominently in university handbooks and on the university website so that all students are made aware of their rights.

We have found that most university policies describe students’ academic freedom, if they mention it at all, solely in terms of the faculty’s responsibility not to indoctrinate students, yet make no statement of students’ right not to be subjected to classroom indoctrination. Most universities already have grievance procedures available for students who have experienced discrimination due to race, sex, or other factors, but no mention is made in these grievance procedures of academic freedom or political harassment. The adoption of this policy at Temple corrects this problem on one campus out of the many thousands in America. We have a long way to go, but our victory at Temple shows that it can be done.

For more information about pursuing the adoption of this policy on your campus, or on starting a chapter of Students for Academic Freedom, please contact me at 888-527-3321 or at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org.

Yours in Freedom,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom

 

Title: Student and Faculty Academic Rights and Responsibilities

Policy Number: 03.70.02

Effective Date: August 1, 2006

Issuing Authority: Board of Trustees

Preamble

As an academic institution, Temple University exists for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth.

Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, on the campus, and in the larger community. The University and the faculty have a responsibility to provide students with opportunities and protections that promote the learning process in all its aspects. Students similarly should exercise their freedom with responsibility.

Temple University therefore reaffirms its commitment to academic freedom, and adopts the following statement of academic freedom principles applicable to faculty and students:

Statement of Principles

1 Faculty are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial (or other) matter which has no relation to their subject. The faculty member is responsible, however, for maintaining academic standards in the presentation of course materials. [It is not the function of a faculty member in a democracy to indoctrinate his/her students with ready-made conclusions on controversial subjects. The faculty member is expected to train students to think for themselves, and to provide them access to those materials, which they need if they are to think intelligently. Hence, in giving instruction upon controversial matters the faculty member is expected to be of a fair and judicial mind, and to set forth justly, without super-cession or innuendo, the divergent opinions of other investigators.]

2. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for the truth.

3. Faculty members in the classroom and in conference should encourage free discussion, inquiry and expression. Student performance should be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.

4. Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the information or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but students are responsible for learning the content of the course of study in which they are enrolled. The validity of academic ideas, theories, arguments and views should be measured against the relevant academic standards.

5. Students should have protection through orderly grievance procedures against prejudiced or capricious evaluations that are not intellectually relevant to the subject matter under consideration. At the same time, students are responsible for complying with the standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled.

Student Grievance Procedure

Except in cases in which a student challenges a grade received in connection with a course, the following procedures shall apply when a student believes that a faculty member has infringed upon the student’s academic rights as set forth in this policy. In cases in which the student is challenging a grade in connection with a course, the student shall follow the grade appeal procedure applicable to the school or college in which the course is offered.

1. If a student grievance for an alleged violation of academic rights cannot be resolved between the faculty member and the student, or if the student does not feel comfortable in discussing the matter directly with the faculty member, the student may bring an informal complaint to the Student Ombudsperson of the school or college to try to effect an informal resolution.

2. If a resolution satisfactory to the student is not obtained through an informal mediation process with the Student Ombudsperson, the student may submit a formal, written grievance to the Dean or the Dean’s designee.

3. The Dean or the Dean’s designee may attempt informal resolution through discussion with the student and faculty member. If a mutually agreeable resolution is not achieved through informal discussion, the Dean shall refer the matter for consideration in accordance with the procedures for resolution of student grievances as set forth in the Bylaws of the school or college.

4. The Dean will consider the recommendation of the school or college’s student grievance committee and issue a written decision and remedy. Appropriate precautions should be developed to safeguard the confidentiality of the grievance proceedings, including information about the outcome.

5. Either party to a grievance may appeal the decision of the Dean to the Provost, in writing, within ten (10) days following notice of the Dean’s decision. A written reply by the other party must be filed within ten (10) days after receipt of the appeal. The Dean’s decision shall be held in abeyance pending appeal. The Provost has discretion to determine the information and procedure that he/she will utilize in deciding each appeal. The decision of the Provost shall be in writing and shall be final.

Recordkeeping and Reporting

The officers should develop mechanisms and procedures for developing and maintaining records in a confidential manner of all grievances brought pursuant to this policy. In addition, the officers shall provide a report on all grievances pursuant to this policy each semester to the Chairs of the Student Affairs and the Academic Affairs Committees of the

Board of Trustees, and establish a mechanism for annual reviews of this policy and its effectiveness by appropriate University officials and the Board of Trustees.

Effective Date

This policy shall become effective on August 1, 2006.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: