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PREAMBLE

Academic institutions such as Anne Arundel Community College exist 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 this academic community, our students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. Procedures for achieving these purposes may vary from campus to campus, but the minimal standards of academic freedom of students outlined below are essential to any community of scholars. Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are separable facets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the class-room, on the campus and in the larger community. Students should exercise their freedom with responsibility. The responsibility to secure and respect general conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the academic community. This college has a duty to develop policies and procedures which provide and safeguard this freedom. Such policies and procedures should be developed within the framework of general standards and with the broadest possible participation of the members of the academic community. The purpose of this statement is to enumerate the essential provisions for student freedom to learn.

I. FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION

The admissions policy of each college is a matter of institutional choice provided that each college makes clear the characteristics and expectations of students which it considers relevant to success in the institution’s program. Under no circumstances will a student be barred from admission to Anne Arundel Community College on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, religion or condition of physical handicap. Thus, within the limits of its facilities, Anne Arundel Community College is open to all students who are qualified according to its admissions standards. These standards and corollary requirements are specified in the college catalog. The facilities and services of this college are open to all of its enrolled students and this institution will use its influence to secure equal access for all students to public facilities in the local community.

II. IN THE CLASSROOM

The professor in the classroom and in conference is expected to encourage free discussion, inquiry and expression. Student performance will be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.

A. Freedom of Expression

Students are free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of the course as these requirements are detailed by the instructor. “The teacher is entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing his/her subject, but not to introduce into his/her teaching controversial matter which has no relation to his/her subject.”  (AAUP: 1940 Statement of Principles.)

B. Insuring Proper Academic Performance

Students are responsible for meeting the established requirements and maintaining standards of academic performance established for those courses in which they are registered. The instructor’s evaluation of their performance in a particular course will be based upon appropriate and well-defined criteria. If a student questions the fairness or appropriateness of academic evaluation, he/she may talk with the instructor. If the problem is not resolved, the student has recourse to the department coordinator, department chair, dean and the vice president for learning. Students are referred to the college catalog for information on grade changes

C. Protection Against Improper Disclosure

Information about student views, beliefs, academic evaluations and political associations which instructors acquire in the course of their professional work will be considered confidential. Judgments of ability and character will be considered a part of a student’s record and will be treated as such under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) procedures.

III. STUDENT AFFAIRS

A. Freedom of Association

Students bring to the campus a variety of interests previously acquired and develop many new interests as members of the academic community. They have the right to organize and join associations and to promote their common interests and to meet co-curricular educational needs.

1. Student organizations, in order to utilize college facilities for activities or to publicize activities on the campus, must receive official recognition by the Student Association and the college through the appropriate institutional officers and are required to keep a constitution on file with the recognizing authorities. This constitution must indicate the organization’s purposes, criteria for membership and rules and procedures.

2. The membership, policies and actions of a student organization will be determined by vote of only those persons who hold bonafide membership in the organization in question and those charged with formally and officially recognizing that organization.

3. No student organization will be denied institutional recognition or any of the benefits thereof SOLELY because of its affiliation with an extramural organization. However, if such organizations demonstrate by their activities that they are in conflict with institutional goals and standards acceptable in the community or if the organization engages in activities which are unlawful, the college may withhold financial support and recognition or may withdraw recognition with cause.

4. Each organization has the right to select its own adviser and institutional recognition will not be withheld or withdrawn solely because an organization is unable to secure an adviser. Organizational advisers may advise organizations in the exercise of responsibility but do not have authority to control the policy of such organizations.

5. Campus organizations, including those affiliated with an extramural organization, are open to all students without respect to race, color, sex, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, religion or condition of handicap, except for scholastic attainment criteria which may apply to honorary societies.

B. Freedom of Inquiry and Expression

1. Students and student organizations have the right to freely examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately. They have the right to support causes by orderly means which do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the institution. At the same time, it must be made clear to the academic and larger community that in their public expressions or demonstrations, students or student organizations may speak only for themselves, not for the institution.

2. Students have the right to invite to the campus and hear any persons of their own choosing. Those routine procedures required by the college before a guest speaker is invited to appear on campus are designed only to ensure that there is orderly scheduling of facilities and adequate preparation for the event and that the occasion is conducted in a manner appropriate to an academic community. The institutional control of campus facilities will not be used as a device for censorship. It should be made clear to the academic and larger community that sponsorship of guest speakers does not necessarily imply approval or endorsement of the views expressed either by the sponsoring group or the institution.

C. Student Participation in Institutional Government

As constituents of the academic community, students have the right, individually and collectively, to express their views on issues of institutional policy and on matters of general interest to the student body. The student body has the right to clearly defined means to participate in the formulation and application of institutional policy affecting academic and student affairs. The actions of the student government within the areas of its jurisdiction will be reviewed only through orderly and prescribed procedures.

D. Student Communications Media

Student publications, the student press and student non-print media are valuable aids in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration on the campus. They are a means of bringing student concerns to the attention of the faculty and the institutional officers and of formulating student opinion on various issues on the campus and in the world at large. Involvement with any of the communications media affords students valuable out-of-classroom, educational experiences, which sharpen intellectual skills and enhance personal growth. Institutional authorities, in consultation with students and faculty, have a responsibility to provide written clarification of the role of the student publications, the standards to be used in their evaluations and the limitations on external control of their operation. At the same time, 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. In the delegation of editorial responsibility to students, the institution will provide sufficient editorial freedom and financial autonomy for student communications media to maintain their integrity of purpose as vehicles for free inquiry and free expression in an academic community. As safeguards for the editorial freedom of these media, and in recognition of the responsibilities which necessarily accompany editorial freedom, a student communications board has been established to:

1. ensure the maintenance of high procedural and ethical standards of communications media;

2. preserve the autonomy of student media from external censorship or control;

3. provide a vehicle for the constructive resolution of conflicts which may arise concerning student media.

The student communications board shall serve to protect the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of all communications media as well as to ensure that these rights are exercised responsibly in accordance with the following provisions:

a. Student communications media operations shall be subject to all approved standards and procedures set forth by the student communications board.

b. Student communications media shall be free from all forms of censorship including requirements for advance administrative approval of copy; arbitrary selection or removal of editors or managers because of editorial policy or content; and attempts at control through allocation of the student activities fee.

c. The First Amendment and all elements of due process must be observed when adjudging student performance. Only under special circumstances related to the maintenance of order and discipline within the institution may editors and managers be subject to removal and then only by orderly and prescribed procedures. The student communications board, as the agency responsible for the appointment of editors and managers, will be the agency responsible for any actions taken concerning the matter.

d. Student editors and managers, by their voluntary participation in student communications media, must assume obligations of performance and behavior reasonably imposed by the institution relevant to its lawful mission, process and functions.

IV. OFF-CAMPUS FREEDOM OF STUDENTS

A. Exercise of Rights of Citizenship

Anne Arundel Community College students are both citizens and members of the academic community. As citizens, students should enjoy the same freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and right of petition that other citizens enjoy and, as members of the academic community, they are subject to the obligations which accrue to them by virtue of this membership. Faculty members and administrative officials should at all times encourage such intellectual and personal development of students as is often promoted by the exercise of the rights of citizenship both on- and off-campus.

B. Institutional Authority and Civil Penalties

Activities of students may upon occasion result in violation of law. Whenever it is appropriate, institutional officials will inform students of sources of legal counsel and may offer other assistance. However, the campus is not a sanctuary from general law. Students who violate the law may incur penalties prescribed by civil authorities, but institutional authority should never be used merely to duplicate the function of general laws. Only where the institution’s interests as an academic community are distinct and clearly involved should the special authority of the institution be asserted. The student who incidentally violates institutional regulations in the course of his off-campus activity, such as those relating to class attendance, should be subject to no greater penalty than would normally be imposed. Institutional action should be independent of community pressure.

Approved by the Board of Trustees
March 16, 1983

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