- I. Overview
- II. Rights, Privileges & Immunities
- III. Rights & Responsibilities of Citizenship
- IV. Responsibility of College to Preserve Rights
- V. Adoption, Amendment & Interpretation of this Document
In 1973, the College community faculty, students, and administration recommended to the Board of Visitors and the Board adopted the following Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Amendments were made to the document in 1977 and 1991 and are included.
The unique nature of the College community suggests that its members be united in a common purpose. Because the work of each member of the institution contributes to the fulfillment of the educational mission of the College, the various constituent groups-students, faculty, and administrators are dependent upon one another for the ultimate achievement of the College's goals. Accordingly, all should enjoy the same fundamental rights and privileges and be willing to accept the same responsibilities, except in those rare cases where either the rights and privileges or the responsibilities would be in conflict with existing law or with the goals and purposes of the College as an institution of higher education.
Students, faculty, and administrators (hereinafter the "members of the College community") shall enjoy all rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to every citizen of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, the members of the College community shall enjoy all the fundamental rights recognized as essential to fulfillment of the special mission of an institution of higher education. The full enjoyment of these rights, however, cannot be achieved unless certain concurrent responsibilities are accepted. Members of the College community have an obligation, therefore, to fulfill the responsibilities incumbent on all citizens as well as the responsibilities inherent in their particular roles within the academic community.
The institution and those who administer its affairs have a special responsibility to ensure that, in pursuance of its functions, the rights of all members of the College community are preserved. The institution also has a right to expect, and a corresponding responsibility to ensure, within the scope of its legitimate functions as an institution of higher education, that individual members of the College community fulfill their responsibilities to others as well as their responsibilities to the institution.
The Statement of Rights and Responsibilities is based upon the aforesaid principles and, when adopted, shall become the standard by which all rules, regulations, policies, and procedures of the College, except as otherwise prescribed by local, State, or Federal law, shall be measured. No rule, regulation, policy, or procedure which is incompatible with or which contradicts this document may be enacted, and any such rules, regulations, policies, or procedures which are in effect at the time of the enactment of this document shall be reviewed as soon as reasonably practicable to conform with this document, provided, however, that this Statement of Rights and Responsibilities shall not affect the powers of the Board of Visitors as provided by law.
The members of the College community, as individuals, shall enjoy all rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to every citizen of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
A. Basic Rights: Among the basic rights are freedom of expression and belief, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and freedom from personal force and violence, threats of violence and personal abuse.
B. Right to Freedom from Discrimination: Each member of the College community has a right in his/her dealings with the institution, and with members of the College community in the performance of their official duties, to be free from discriminatory treatment with regard to race, creed, gender, religion, national origin, or political belief.
C. Rights to Organize: Each member of the College community has the right to organize his/her own personal life and behavior insofar as it does not violate local, State, or Federal law, College regulations, or agreements voluntarily entered into, and does not interfere with the rights of others. The following specific rights apply:
1. The right to associate with any legally established group or to create such groups, professional or other, as serve legitimate interests.
a. The membership, policies, and actions of an organization shall be determined by vote of those who hold membership in that organization
b. Affiliation with an extramural organization shall not disqualify an organization from institutional recognition.
c. An organization shall be officially recognized after its constitution and bylaws have been approved by the appropriate body as designated by the President, or his/her delegated representative, and when consistent with the Bylaws of the Board of Visitors. A current list of officers, but not a membership list, may be required as a condition of recognition.
d. Officially recognized organizations, including those affiliated with an extramural organization, shall be open to all on a non-discriminatory basis with regard to race, religion, creed, national origin, gender, or political belief, provided however that, to the extent permitted by law, membership in social organizations may be restricted to members of the same gender, and membership in organizations whose primary purpose is political or religious may be restricted to those members of the College community who have similar beliefs.
2. The right to hold public meetings, to invite speakers of his/her own choosing to campus, to post notices, to engage in peaceful, orderly demonstrations within reasonably and impartially applied rules designed by the President or his/her delegated representative, to reflect the educational purposes of the College, and to protect the safety of members of the College and community and others. The College may establish rules, therefore, regulating time, place, and manner of such activities and allocating the use of facilities, but these regulations shall not be used as a means of censorship. In the event that there is a clear and present danger, as reasonably determined by the appropriate college authority designated by the President, to the health or safety of the members of the College community or to the educational process, such meeting or demonstration may be prohibited. Sponsorship of guest speakers does not necessarily imply approval or endorsement of the views expressed either by the sponsoring group or the institution.
D. The right, when charged or convicted of violation of general law, to be free of College discipline for the same conduct, unless such discipline by the College community is determined to be for the protection of other members of the College community or the safeguarding of the educational process. Such determination shall be made by the appropriate College authority designated by the President.
E. Right to Fair and Equitable Adjudication Procedures: Each member of the College community has a right to fair and equitable procedures for the adjudication of charges of violations of nonacademic College regulations and the sanctions or penalties to be imposed, including, without limitation, the following specific rights:
1. Right to Notice: The right to have advance written notice of all institutional rules and regulations, including the ranges of penalties for violation of such rules and regulations.
2. Right to Due Process: The right, in the case of charges of infractions of regulations which may lead to serious penalties, to formal procedures with fundamental aspects of due process, including the right to be informed in writing of the charges and given a reasonable time to prepare a defense, to have written findings, and to appeal to higher authority. Minor infractions may be handled more informally by the appropriate individual or committee with the consent of the individual charged. In such instances, the right of appeal is still preserved.
3. Right to be Present: Right to be present on campus, participate in classes, and generally exercise all those rights and privileges associated with membership in the College community until found guilty of the charges, except in those instances when continued presence on the campus would constitute a threat to health or safety of the individual, other members of the community, or to the educational process. Such determination shall be made by the appropriate College authority as designated by the President.
F. Right to Privacy- Each member of the College community has a right to privacy in his/her dealings with the institution, including, without limitation:
1. Search and Seizure: The right to be free of searches and seizures except in accordance with law. Routine inspections, however, may be held periodically for the purpose of assuring fire protection, sanitation, safety and proper maintenance of the College's buildings.
2. Privacy of Records: The right to expect that all records of his/her association with the institution are treated as confidential.
a. Release of Information: Except as provided below, the institution may not release information about any aspect of an individual's association with the institution without the prior written consent of the individual concerned or under the compulsion of law. Within the institution, access to such records shall be restricted to authorized personnel for authorized reasons, as determined by the President or his/her delegated representative, and such others as are agreed to in writing by the individual concerned. To the extent permitted by law, the institution may disclose, to an alleged victim of any crime of violence (as that term is defined in section 16 of title 18, United States Code), the results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the College against the alleged perpetrator of such crime with respect to such crime. The College may also release information about students which is defined as directory information under the Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, and information about other members of the College community which is a matter of public record (for more information on FERPA, please refer to the Registrar's web site at www.wm.edu/registrar).
b. Inspection of Records: Each member of the College community shall have the right to inspect the contents of his/her own records kept by the institution, other than information or records to which the member has specifically waived the right of access and letters of recommendation written by other members of the College community for the purpose of internal evaluation of a member for the award of a College honor, provided that such letters are not kept permanently by the institution and do not become a part of the official record, and may challenge any information included in the record which is believed to be inaccurate, inappropriate, or misleading. If an individual challenges any information contained in his/her records, the institution shall undertake to verify such information to the satisfaction of the individual concerned. Such decisions shall be made by the President or his/her designated representative. If the institution's decision is not satisfactory to the individual, the member has the right to place in his/her record a statement challenging the information. Subsequent authorized disclosure of the contents of the record shall indicate such challenge.
c. Political and Religious Beliefs: Records of the political and religious activities or beliefs of members of the College community may not be maintained except for purposes of official recognition of campus organizations as provided in Article I.C.1.c.
d. Separation of Academic Records: To minimize the risk of improper disclosure from records, the academic record shall be maintained separately from other necessary student records. Transcripts of academic records shall contain only data essential for personal identification and information about academic performance and status. All withdrawals, whether voluntary or involuntary, may be recorded on the transcript.
Each member of the College community shall have the responsibility to respect the aforesaid rights of his/her associates and refrain from using the institution as a sanctuary from the general law.
Each member of the College community enjoys all rights of citizenship and has a responsibility to fulfill the obligations incumbent on all citizens. Additionally, there are special rights and responsibilities inherent in membership in an academic society.
A. Responsibility to Respect the Rights of Others: Each member of the College community has a responsibility, based upon the special mission of an institution of higher education, to respect the rights of others to function in an atmosphere where freedom to teach, to learn, and to conduct research and publish findings is preserved and respected, an atmosphere which includes, without limitation, the following specific rights:
1. The right of the instructor to academic freedom and impartial consideration for tenure in accord with the principles set forth in the Statement of Academic Freedom and Tenure, adopted jointly in 1940 by the Association of American Colleges and the American Association of University Professors, and with the standards and procedures approved by the Board of Visitors and set forth in the Faculty Handbook.
2. The right of the instructor to determine the specific content of his/her course within established course definitions. Concurrently, the instructor has the responsibility not to depart significantly from his/her area of competence or to divert significant time to materials extraneous to the subject of the course.
3. The right of the student to be evaluated entirely on the basis of academic performance and to discuss freely, inquire, and express opinions inside the classroom. The student has a responsibility to maintain standards of academic performance as set by his/her professors, provided, however, that the student shall have means for redress against arbitrary, unreasonable, or prejudicial standards of evaluation.
4. The right to pursue normal academic and administrative activities, including the freedom of movement in the performance of such activities.
5. The right to privacy in offices, laboratories, and residence hall rooms and in the keeping of personal papers and effects.
6. The right to hear and study unpopular and controversial views on intellectual and public issues.
7. The right of the student to expect that information about his/her views, beliefs and political associations which an instructor acquires in the course of his/her work as a teacher, advisor or counselor of the student be held in confidence to the extent permitted by law.
B. Rights and Responsibilities of Student Publications: Because student publications are a valuable aid in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and intellectual exploration on the campus, it is essential that they enjoy the following rights and responsibilities:
1. The right to be free from prior censorship or advance approval of copy.
2. The right to develop editorial policies and news coverage.
3. The right to be protected from arbitrary punishment or suspension, or removal from his/her position because of student, faculty, administrative, or public disapproval of editorial policy or content. Only for proper and stated causes, as defined by the Publications Council of the College, shall editors and managers be subject to such punishment, suspension, or removal. The academic status of a student editor or manager shall not be affected, provided, however, that he/she shall remain subject to the provisions of Article I, Sections C.3 and D.3.
4. The responsibility to make clear in writings or broadcasts that editorial opinions are not necessarily those of the institution or its members.
C. The Responsibility to Maintain High Standards: Members of the College community have a responsibility to maintain the highest standards in the performance of their duties and to respect the aforesaid rights of their associates.
The College, through those who administer its affairs, has a special responsibility to ensure that, in pursuance of its functions, the rights of all members of the College community are preserved, including, without limitation, the rights of such persons heretofore specifically enumerated.
The College has a right to expect, and a responsibility to ensure, within the scope of its legitimate functions as an institution of higher education, that all members of the College community fulfill their responsibilities to others as well as their responsibilities to the College.
A. Academic Performance and Personal Conduct: The College has the right and responsibility to set and enforce reasonable standards of academic performance and personal conduct, in order to facilitate and safeguard the educational process, and to provide for the safety of the person and property of members of the College community, the College's physical property, and the person and property of others, to the extent that they are affected by College-sponsored activities or are engaged in legitimate activities on College property.
B. Validity of Charges: The College has the right and responsibility to provide procedures for determining the validity of charges that a member of the College community is negligent or irresponsible in the performance of his/her duties.
C. Opportunity to be Heard: The College has the responsibility to ensure that the members of the College community have an opportunity to be heard at appropriate levels of the decision-making process about basic policy matters of direct concern. Clearly defined means should be available to ensure this opportunity.
D. Leadership and Administrative Procedures: The College has the responsibility to provide and maintain leadership and administrative procedures responsive to the needs and desires of the College community, consistent with high standards of academic excellence, and to the changing goals and responsibilities of institutions of higher education, including the responsibility:
1. To make, from time to time, a clear statement of its purpose and goals.
2. To disseminate information relating to the activities of the College, financial or otherwise, subject to the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
3. To state the reasons for institutional decisions affecting the College community or individual members thereof, except as required by the provisions of Article I, Section E.2a., or by the advice of legal counsel in instances involving possible litigation.
E. Protection of Integrity and Prevention of Exploitation: The College has the right and responsibility to protect its integrity and to prevent its political or financial exploitation by an individual or group by means including, but not limited to, the following:
1. The College has a right to prohibit individuals and groups who are not members of the College community from using its name, its finances, or its physical facilities.
2. The College has a right to prohibit members of the College community from using its name, its finances, or its physical facilities for activities not principally for the benefit of the College.
3. The College has the responsibility to provide for members of the College community the use of meeting rooms, including use for political purposes, provided that such use is not undertaken on a regular basis and used as free headquarters for political campaigns, and the right to prohibit use of its name, its finances, or its office equipment for any political or other purpose.
This document shall be adopted and may be amended when:
A. Accepted by a majority vote of those students who vote in a referendum.
B. Accepted by a majority vote of the combined faculties of the College who vote in a referendum.
C. Accepted by a majority vote of the administration of the College who vote in a referendum.
D. Approved by the President of the College and the Board of Visitors. Nothing in this document shall affect the powers of the Board of Visitors as provided by law.
On September 24, 1974, President Graves issued a clarifying statement concerning the interpreting mechanism for the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and his memorandum of that date is an addendum to that Statement:
"The President of the College, by virtue of his responsibility to implement and administer the policies established by the Board of Visitors, is responsible for implementing the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
The normal tasks of implementation are the responsibility of various offices of the College 'who administer its affairs.' These offices, whose policies and practices have been brought into conformance with the Statement, 'have a special responsibility to ensure that . . . the rights of all members of the College community are preserved.'
There are, however, instances in which the Statement must undergo occasional interpretation in the process of its continuing implementation as a document.
In the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, it is the responsibility of the President or an 'appropriate College authority designated by him' to determine when an exception to a specific section of the Statement should be made. The Statement also provides that members of the College community 'should enjoy the same fundamental rights and privileges...except in those rare cases where . . . the rights or privileges...would be in conflict...with the goals and purposes of the College as an institution of higher education.'
Although the Statement does not indicate who, other than the President, the arbitrating authority should be for exceptions, or who should interpret the Statement when there is a difference of opinion among members of the College community or between individuals and the institution, the clear implication in both cases is that it should be the President or 'an appropriate College authority designated by him.'
Therefore, I believe that it is desirable for us to proceed ahead along the lines suggested above. If and when relevant questions or issues are raised in connection with the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, such questions or issues should be brought to the attention of the President's Office as they occur. I shall take responsibility, depending on the nature and substance of a case, for determining whether I or another administrative officer, whom I would designate, should handle the case. Whoever is given that authority shall take responsibility for consulting with those whom he believes appropriate, depending on the circumstances, before reaching a decision."
On May 2, 1990, Dr. Paul R. Verkuil, President of the College, issued the following interpretation of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:
The Statement of Rights and Responsibilities guarantees to members of the university community the "right in his or her dealing with the institution and with members of the College community in the performance of their official duties to nondiscriminatory treatment." It further states that "each member of the College community has the right to organize his or her own personal life and behavior insofar as it does not violate local, state, or federal law, College regulations or agreement voluntarily entered into and does not interfere with the rights of others." It is my determination that these words express a right to privacy which extends not only to nondiscriminatory treatment in areas specified by federal law but to nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation as well. The student code of conduct already ensures nondiscriminatory treatment without regard to sexual orientation.
In accordance with the resolution of the Faculty Assembly, I am directing that official publications of the university include specific reference to this topic in any enumeration of William and Mary's nondiscrimination policies. It is also my interpretation that faculty, staff and administration should be extended the same assurances against discrimination based upon sexual orientation as the student body itself. This interpretation will be made a part of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
On May 1, 1996, Dr. Timothy Sullivan, President of the College, issued the following clarification of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:
Under the Sections I.A. and I.B., each member of the College community has the right to be free from all forms of discriminatory treatment as guaranteed by law. Accordingly, the enumeration of specifically protected treatment should be understood to include disability, Vietnam veteran status, and all other categories ensured by the Commonwealth and by federal law. For faculty, failure to comply with federal and state non-discrimination laws and policies shall be handled in accordance with provisions in the Faculty Handbook, including the procedural guarantees therein outlined. Students alleging failure to comply with federal and state non-discrimination laws and policies shall contact the Dean of Students or the Vice-President for Student Affairs.