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Student Rights

Policy Number STU-016
Effective Date December 17, 2007
Responsible Office/Person Student Affairs
Related Policies
Additional History
Additional References

Policy Statement
Students Rights as listed in this Policy will be preserved.

Purpose
As individuals actively involved in the learning process, students are afforded specific rights to encourage their growth, development, and success.

Definitions
Freedom of Association

Students are free to organize and join associations to promote their common interests.

Freedom of Inquiry and Expression

Subject to the University’s right to regulate time, place, and manner, students and student organizations will be free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them, and to express opinions publicly and privately. In addition, subject to the same limitations, students will be allowed to invite and hear any person of their own choosing.

Student Participation in Institutional Government

UMass Dartmouth recognizes that as constituents of the academic community, students should be free, individually and collectively, to express their views on issues of institutional policy and on matters of general interest to the student body. Adopted from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) pamphlet, “Student Rights And Freedom.”

Student Publication Rights

The editorial freedom of student editors and managers entails corollary responsibilities to be governed by the canons of responsible journalism, such as the avoidance of libel, indecency, undocumented allegations, attacks on personal integrity, and the techniques of harassment and innuendo.

As safeguards for the editorial freedom of student publications the following provisions are endorsed by UMass Dartmouth.

The student press will be free of censorship and advance approval of copy, and its editors and managers will be free to develop their own editorial policies and news coverage.
All University-published and financed student publications should explicitly state on the editorial page that the opinions there expressed are not necessary those of the University or student body.
Freedom of Assembly

The University of Massachusetts recognizes the rights of members of the University community to freedom of assembly and speech, and strongly believes in fostering discourse and the free exchange of ideas at the University. However, as a matter of law and University policy, these rights and interests are restricted, and must be exercised on University property in a manner consistent with the mission and operation of the University and the rights of other members of the University community. Accordingly, the University long ago adopted policies and procedures at each of its campuses which take into account these countervailing interests.

Nonetheless, some members of the University community on occasion have exceeded the bounds of appropriate expression during the course of the demonstration, by interfering in the educational activities and business of the University and with the rights of others. It is therefore desirable to reaffirm the importance of appropriate time, place and manner restrictions on demonstrations. Accordingly, and in order to provide further consistency in the application of University policies on-campus protests, the Office of the President is issuing the following guidelines for responding to demonstrations on University property:

All students, undergraduate and graduate, have a right to demonstrate on University premises provided, however, that no such demonstration shall be permissible which for any reason of time, place, or type of behavior materially disrupts class work or other University business, or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.
Any demonstration within a campus building may take place only during normal operating hours of the building.
Students are prohibited from blocking free entry to or free exit from buildings, interfering with free movement, or presenting obstacles to regular University activities. “Interfering with free movement” is defined as any physical denial or restriction of a person’s ability to freely reach or leave a given geographical area, or harassment as defined in the Code of Student Conduct. “Obstacles” are defined as physical devices, bodies, or signs which cause interference with free movement, or sounds which prevent normal aural communication.
A demonstration in a building or area is limited to such a number of persons which the area can reasonably accommodate on grounds of public safety, as determined by a University official.
There shall be no interference with demonstrations on the grounds of content of speech, except for any speech or demonstration which incites immediate violent action or breach of peace and represents a clear and present danger to the campus community.

No student shall intentionally and substantially interfere with the freedom of expression of another person on University premises or at University sponsored activities.
Failure to cease any activity in violation of the policy immediately following either written or oral notice by a University official shall also be a violation of this policy.
Any violation of this policy may subject a student to dismissal from the University or such lesser sanction(s) as may be deemed appropriate by the University.

Freedom of Speech

The University recognizes the need for all members of the University community, administrators, faculty, staff, and students to reaffirm formally their profound commitment to freedom of speech and to clarify the implications of that commitment. In this context, freedom of speech encompasses all forms of communication as well as the freedom to listen, watch, protest, or otherwise participate in such communication. We believe it is our responsibility to espouse an atmosphere of free speech and free inquiry and to advocate for the timely discussion of a wide variety of issues. We believe, further, that vital intellectual discourse is essential to democracy and to ensuring a just society.

Believing speech to be false, deleterious, or in any other way odious cannot be cause for its suppression except for speech as specified under allowable exemptions below.
Preventing speech from occurring by disruptive protest also constitutes an attack on freedom of speech.
Ensuring the rights of free speech and expression for protests is a concomitant responsibility for upholding First Amendment prescriptions while acknowledging allowable exemptions for:
speech that poses a clear and present danger of serious harm;
obscenity;
some forms of libel;
sexual exploitation and other abuses of children;
fighting words or face-to-face insults that are likely to bring disputants to blows;
time, place and manner.

Procedures
Any student who believes that his/her rights as stated in this policy have been violated has the right to file a complaint via the Student Affairs Office or to utilize one of the alternative methods of dispute resolution listed in Policy STU - 9: Complaints, Grievances and Appeal Policy.

Responsibility
The Student Affairs Office, in conjunction with the Student Senate, will be responsible for periodically reviewing and updating (as appropriate, and with the approval of the Board of Trustees) the Student Rights listed here.

Attachments
None.

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