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General University Policies
In addition to the several policy statements included below, the University’s Student Code and general academic policies may be found, respectively, on the following Western Michigan University websites: http://www.wmich.edu/conduct/ and www.wmich.edu/registrar.
Western Michigan University (WMU) is a student-centered research university that forges a responsive and ethical academic community. Its undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs are built upon intellectual inquiry, investigation, discovery, an open exchange of ideas, and ethical behavior. Members of the WMU community respect diversity, value the cultural differences of those around them, and engender a sense of social obligation. Because of these values, all individuals are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and civil manner. This includes exemplifying academic honesty, integrity, fairness, trustworthiness, personal responsibility, respect for others, and ethical conduct. These attributes are exhibited in the University as well as in the community. Members of the University community abide by this code out of commitment to serve as responsible citizens of the University, the community, the nation, and the world. Responsibility for fulfilling the obligations of the code of honor is shared by the students, faculty, and every other member of the University community.
As provided by University policy or by law:
- Students have the right to free inquiry, expression, and association.
- Students should be free from discrimination and harassment which violates the law or which constitutes inappropriate or unprofessional limitation of employment opportunity, University facility access, or participation in University activities, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, protected disability, veteran status, height, weight, or marital status..
- Students should be secure in their persons, living quarters, papers, and effects.
- Students are protected against improper disclosure as provided for in the Family and Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
- Students have the right to access their personal records and other University files as provided for under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
- Students are free to participate in the governance of the University through membership in appropriately designated University and college committees.
Students have those academic rights and responsibilities as described in the University catalogs, including but not limited to the following:
- Student performance will be evaluated solely on academic criteria.
- Students have protection against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation.
- 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 any course of study for which they are enrolled.
- Students will be informed by the faculty about course requirements, objectives, and policies in each class. This information will be provided at the beginning of the semester or sufficiently in advance of actual evaluation.
Each course instructor is required to make available to students a course syllabus that shall contain a basic course description, course objectives, course requirements and policies, grading criteria, and instructor contact information. Instructors are encouraged to include a tentative schedule indicating when various topics will be addressed, and when quizzes, exams and due dates for assignments shall occur. Instructors are further encouraged to include in their syllabi basic University policies regarding academic conduct, human rights, diversity, and students with disabilities.
- Students have the right to have all their examinations and other graded material made available to them with an explanation of the grading criteria. Faculty will retain all such materials not returned to the student for at least one full semester (or through the Summer I and Summer II sessions) after the course was given. Faculty are not required to return such material to the student, but must provide reasonable access.
Student Academic Conduct
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The following policies and procedures shall apply to all matters of student academic conduct.
If a student is uncertain about an issue of academic honesty, he/she should consult the faculty member to resolve questions in any situation prior to the submission of the academic exercise.
Violations of academic honesty include but are not limited to:
Definition: Cheating is intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, notes, study aids or other devices or materials in any academic exercise.
- Students completing any examination are prohibited from looking at another student’s examination and from using external aids (for example, books, notes, calculators, conversation with other) unless specifically allowed in advance by the faculty member.
- Students may not have others conduct research or prepare work for them without advance authorization from the faculty member. This includes, but is not limited to, the services of commercial term paper companies.
Fabrication, Falsification, and Forgery
Definition: Fabrication is the intentional invention and unauthorized alteration of any information or citation in an academic exercise. Falsification is a matter of altering information while fabrication is a matter of inventing or counterfeiting information for use in any academic exercise or University record. Forgery is defined as the act to imitate or counterfeit documents, signatures, and the like.
- “Invented” information shall not be used in any laboratory experiment, report of results or academic exercise. It would be improper, for example, to analyze one sample in an experiment and then “invent” data based on that single experiment for several more required analyses.
- Students shall acknowledge the actual source from which cited information was obtained. For example, a student shall not take a quotation from a book review and then indicate that the quotation was obtained from the book itself.
- Falsification of University records includes altering or forging any University document and/or record, including identification material issued or used by the University.
Definition: Multiple submission is the submission of substantial portions of the same work (including oral reports) for credit more than once without authorization from instructors of all classes for which the student submits the work.
Examples of multiple submission include submitting the same paper for credit in more than one course without all faculty members’ permission; making revisions in a credit paper or report (including oral presentations) and submitting it again as if it were new work.
Definition: Plagiarism is intentionally, knowingly, or carelessly presenting the work of another as one’s own (i.e., without proper acknowledgment of the source). The sole exception to the requirement of acknowledging sources is when the ideas, information, etc., are common knowledge.
Instructors should provide clarification about the nature of plagiarism.
- Direct Quotation: Every direct quotation must be identified by quotation marks or appropriate indentation and must be properly acknowledged, in the text by citation or in a footnote or endnote.
- Paraphrase: Prompt acknowledgment is required when material from another source is paraphrased or summarized, in whole or in part, in one’s own words. To acknowledge a paraphrase properly, one might state: “To paraphrase Locke’s comment,…” and then conclude with a footnote or endnote identifying the exact reference.
- Borrowed facts: Information gained in reading or research which is not common knowledge must be acknowledged.
- Common knowledge: Common knowledge includes generally known facts such as the names of leaders of prominent nations, basic scientific laws, etc. Materials which add only to a general understanding of the subject may be acknowledged in the bibliography and need not be footnoted or endnoted.
- Footnotes, endnotes, and in-text citations: One footnote, endnote, or in-text citation is usually enough to acknowledge indebtedness when a number of connected sentences are drawn from one source. When direct quotations are used, however, quotation marks must be inserted and acknowledgment made. Similarly, when a passage is paraphrased, acknowledgment is required.
Faculty members are responsible for identifying any specific style/format requirement for the course. Examples include but are not limited to American Psychological Association (APA) style and Modern Languages Association (MLA) style.
Definition: Complicity is intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty.
Examples of complicity include knowingly allowing another to copy from one’s paper during an examination or test; distributing test questions or substantive information about the materials to be tested before the scheduled exercise; collaborating on academic work knowing that the collaboration will not be reported; taking an examination or test for another student, or signing another’s name on an academic exercise.
(NOTE: Collaboration and sharing information are characteristics of academic communities. These become violations when they involve dishonesty. Faculty members should make clear to students expectations about collaboration and information sharing. Students should seek clarification when in doubt.)
Definition: Academic computer misuse is the use of software to perform work which the instructor has told the student to do without the assistance of software.
Conduct in Research
Research and creative activities occur in a variety of settings at the University, including class papers, theses, dissertations, reports or projects, grant funded projects and service activities. Research and creative activities rest on a foundation of mutual trust. Misconduct in research and in creative activity destroys that trust and is prohibited. Students shall adhere to professional standards of integrity in both artistic and scientific research including appropriate representations of originality, authorship and collaborative crediting.
Definition: Misconduct in research is defined as serious deviation, such as fabrication or falsification of data, plagiarism, or scientific or creative misrepresentation, from accepted professional practices of the discipline or University in carrying out research and creative activities or in reporting or exhibiting/performing the results of research and creative activities. It does not include honest error or honest differences in judgments or interpretations of data.
Examples of misconduct in research include but are not limited to:
- Fabrication of Data: Deliberate invention or counterfeiting of information.
- Falsification of Data: Dishonesty in reporting results, ranging from unauthorized alteration of data, improper revision or correcting of data, gross negligence in collecting or analyzing data, to selective reporting or omission of conflicting data.
- Plagiarism and Other Misappropriation of the Work of Another: The representation of another person’s ideas or writing as one’s own, in such ways as stealing others’ results or methods, copying or presenting the writing or ideas of others without acknowledgment, or otherwise taking credit falsely. Representing another’s artistic or technical work or creation as one’s own. Just as there are standards to which one must adhere in the preparation and publication of written works, there are standards to which one must adhere in creative works in the tonal, temporal, visual, literary and dramatic arts.
- Abuse of Confidentiality: Taking or releasing the ideas or data of others which were given in the expectation of confidentiality, e.g., stealing ideas from grant proposals, award documents, or manuscripts intended for publication or exhibition/performance when one is a reviewer for granting agencies or journals or when one is a juror.
- Dishonesty in Publication or Exhibition/Performance: Knowingly publishing, exhibiting or performing work that will mislead, e.g., misrepresenting material, particularly its originality, or adding or deleting the names of other authors without permission.
- Deliberate Violation of Requirements: Failure to adhere to or receive the approval required for work under research regulations of federal, state, local or university agencies, including guidelines for the protection of human subjects or animal subjects and the use of recombinant DNA, radioactive material, and chemical or biological hazards.
- Failure to Report Fraud: Concealing or otherwise failing to report known misconduct or breaches of research or artistic ethics.
Research Assurance Requirements
General Responsibilities: Everyone at Western Michigan University who is conducting research that involves human subjects, vertebrate animals, hazardous materials (biological or chemical) or recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules must obtain approval in advance from the appropriate University oversight committee [Human Subjects Institutional Review Board (HSIRB), the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), or the Radiation Safety Officer, or Manager of Environmental Health and Safety]. Failure to comply with the federal, state, and University requirements is a serious issue that will be addressed by the appropriate University official and the oversight committee. Misconduct in research includes the failure to comply with requirements of the conduct of research and creative activities, e.g., the protection of human subjects, the welfare of laboratory animals, radiation, and biosafety. Allegations in these areas may be brought to the HSIRB, IACUC, and IBC.
- All master’s theses, specialist projects, and doctoral dissertations involving research with protected or regulated research subjects and materials must include documentation indicating compliance (approved review or approved exemptions as applicable) with federal, state, and Western Michigan University requirements for the protection of human/animal subjects or appropriate use of genetic or radioactive materials and biohazards.
- A research project other than a master’s thesis, specialist project, or doctoral dissertation may be required or accepted by some departments for degree completion (usually with 7100 identified as the course number or, alternatively, another specified course).
- Some departments require a research project in the fulfilling of graduate or undergraduate curricula.
Student Responsibilities: All graduate students are urged to consult the appropriate committee before beginning any research because regulations and policies governing it are strict. The student researcher who prepares the paper is responsible for obtaining the appropriate forms from the official Western Michigan University review board/committee/officer currently: 1) the HSIRB for human subjects, 2) the IACUC for laboratory animals, 3) the IBC for genetic materials, 4) the Radiation Safety/Biosafety Officer for radioactive materials and biohazards, or 5) the Manager of Environmental Health and Safety for chemical hazards and hazardous waste. Approval or an approved exemption for the conduct of the research must be received by the student researcher from the board/committee/officer prior to the initiation of the study.
Department Responsibilities: The department requiring the course is responsible for assuring that the student has complied with federal, state, and Western Michigan University requirements. The appropriate approval or approved exemption form should be included as part of the research report or final paper.
The Graduate College: will not approve any master’s thesis, specialist project, or doctoral dissertation which does not comply with these requirements and in that event no credit will be granted for the course.
Charges of Violations of Academic Honesty and Conduct in Research
Western Michigan University’s academic honesty and conduct in research policies have been created and defined by members of its academic community, recommended by its faculty senate, and adopted by its board of trustees. The processes necessary to support these policies are managed and facilitated by the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). If you have questions about the forms, the process, your role in the process, or anything else related to academic honesty, please call the Office of Student Conduct at (269) 387-2160. These policies take effect August 30, 1999, and supersede previous catalog sections entitled “Academic Policy and Status,” “Academic Conduct Violation: Consequences and Appeals,” “Academic Grade Appeals Procedure,” and “General Academic Appeals Procedure.”
This section applies to cases in which a student is to be charged with a violation of the Academic Honesty Policy, including the policy on Academic Honesty and the policy on Conduct in Research.
- Charging a student with a violation: An Academic Dishonesty/Conduct in Research Charge Form is filled out by the instructor for the purpose of charging the student. After the instructor completes the form, the instructor sends it (or may fax it) to the OSC. A staff member in that office will then contact the student and schedule a meeting between the student and the OSC. An OSC staff member will also notify the Registrar of the pending case, and will institute a “disciplinary hold” preventing the student from dropping, adding, or registering in classes.
- If the student accepts responsibility: If the student accepts responsibility, the OSC will contact the instructor and the instructor may impose an academic penalty up to failure of the course in which the student is enrolled. The OSC may also impose non-grade-related penalties ranging from reprimand to dismissal from the University.
- If the student does not responsibility: If the student does not accept responsibility, the OSC will consult with the instructor to ascertain the instructor’s preference as to the hearing type. The hearing may be a meeting between the instructor and the student or a meeting between the student and an Academic Integrity Hearing Panel (AIHP). An Academic Integrity Hearing Panel will consist of three faculty members and two students, selected using procedures established by the Professional Concerns Committee of the Faculty Senate. The choice of hearing type is the instructor’s. The OSC will set up the hearing and will notify the student and faculty member of its time, date, and location.
- If the student wants to appeal a finding of responsibility after a hearing with the instructor: A student may appeal a finding of responsibility resulting from a hearing with the instructor to an Academic Integrity Hearing Panel within five University business days. The student cannot appeal after that time has elapsed.
- The authority of the Academic Integrity Hearing Panel: An Academic Integrity Committee will conduct hearings to determine whether the student is responsible for academic dishonesty. An Academic Integrity Hearing Panel makes no decisions regarding the sanctions and/or grades to be imposed, either by the instructor or by the OSC.
- If a finding of “responsible” has been made: A finding of “responsible” occurs when a student admits responsibility to the OSC, the instructor so decides, or an Academic Integrity Hearing Panel so decides by majority vote. When that finding has occurred, the instructor may impose an academic penalty up to and including failure of the course in which the student is enrolled. A decision by the instructor regarding a grade penalty cannot be appealed by the student once the student has been found responsible and has exhausted or waived all appeals. Also, once the student has been found responsible and has exhausted or waived all appeals, that student’s continued attendance in the relevant class depends on the penalty imposed by the instructor and/or the OSC. If the instructor determines to fail the student in the course, the student is not permitted to continue attending class. Again, following a finding of responsibility, the OSC may impose additional sanctions ranging from reprimand to dismissal from the University. In all cases when a final finding of responsibility has been made, the finding will be included in the student’s educational record. Students will not be permitted to withdraw from a course to avoid imposition of any academic penalty.
- If a finding of “not responsible” has been made: If a finding of “not responsible” has been made, the charge is dismissed and no penalties are imposed.
- While a case is pending: A case is considered pending until one of two events occurs: (1) the student accepts responsibility or (2) the hearing process is completed. While a case is pending, the student has the right to attend and participate in the class. If the case is pending at the end of the semester, the instructor must assign an Incomplete grade and then submit a change of grade once the process is complete.
- Instructor unavailable to assign grade: Circumstances may arise which may prevent an instructor from assigning a grade in a timely manner. In such instances, the academic unit chair/director will make reasonable efforts to contact and ask the instructor to supply a grade. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the instructor’s academic unit chair/director will appoint another qualified faculty member to assign the grade.
Selection, Training, and Organization of Academic Integrity Committee (AIC)
An Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) will be drawn from a panel of faculty and students who are trained by the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). For each instance of an academic dishonesty charge which requires AIC review (see above), a five-member AIC composed of three faculty members and two students will be selected to hear the charge of academic dishonesty and to determine whether the charge has merit. Procedures for selection of a five-member AIC and, when required, AIC replacements from the AIC panel will be constructed and administered by the Professional Concerns Committee (PCC).
Each academic unit will elect one tenured or tenure-track faculty member to serve on the AIC panel. Student AIC panel members must be recommended by faculty, and each academic unit is asked to recommend one undergraduate and one graduate student to the OSC. Students recommended to the AIC panel will be screened by the OSC to ensure that no AIC student member has incurred a previous academic dishonesty sanction and that each AIC student member has a satisfactory disciplinary record.
Faculty members will serve three-year terms (with staggered terms for the first AIC panel, to ensure continuity of experience and training). Students will serve one-year terms with reappointment possible for up to a total of three years. It will be necessary to include on the panel those who can serve in the spring and summer.
For a charge against an undergraduate student, at least one student member of the panel shall be an undergraduate student. For a charge against a graduate student, at least on member of the panel shall be a graduate student. Each AIC will elect a faculty member to chair the committee, and, whenever possible, hearings should be conducted with a full panel. However, should extenuating circumstances arise (e.g., a panelist is ill), a hearing may be conducted with four members. When necessary, faculty and/or student members of an AIC may be replaced with AIC panel members selected by the PCC.
The Professional Concerns Committee (PCC) shall also function as an oversight committee for reviewing and monitoring all University policies and procedures dealing with academic conduct, including academic dishonesty, grade appeal and program dismissal issues. A report of all AIC activities shall be made to the Faculty Senate Executive Board each year by the PCC, and recommendations for changes in policies and procedures regarding academic conduct, including academic dishonesty, grade appeal and program dismissal issues, may be part of that annual report. Such recommendations may result in modifications to these procedures and policies.
Course Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals
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Course Grade Appeals
This section applies when a student wants to appeal a final course grade that has been recorded by the Registrar on the student’s academic record. Appeal panels are assembled from the faculty under the authority of and by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or designate. Throughout this process, the Office of the Ombudsman is available to students and instructors for assistance on procedures and clarification of the rights of all parties.
The accepted bases of course grade appeal are:
- Grades were calculated or the program dismissal decision was made in a manner inconsistent with the University policy, the syllabus, or changes to the syllabus.
- The grade(s) was/were erroneously calculated.
- Grading/performance standards were arbitrarily or unequally applied.
- The instructor failed to assign or remove an Incomplete or to initiate a grade change as agreed upon with the student.
- Late withdrawal from class(es), after grades have been assigned, due to genuine hardship. (Students appealing on this basis should proceed by contacting the Ombuds Office and following the procedures for hardship determination.)
A grade appeal cannot be made in response to a grade penalty assessed as a result of an official finding of responsibility for academic integrity violation(s). Such a finding will have been made through the procedures provided in the academic integrity policy.
The steps to be taken in appealing a grade are:
- Informal meeting with instructor: A student is encouraged to begin the appeal process by meeting with the instructor who assigned the grade. Such meetings often help students understand the grading practices of instructors and often lead to resolution of differences over grades.
- Written appeal and conference with the academic unit chair/director: A grade appeal must be in writing, in hard copy, and must be submitted to the academic unit chair/director. This appeal must be received by the academic unit chair/director within 60 business days of the last day of the semester or session in which the grade was recorded on a student’s record. The Provost or designate may grant an extension should a genuine hardship arise (i.e., illness, death in the immediate family). The letter must identify the basis of the appeal and must state in detail why the student believes the grade should be changed. Following a conference with the student, the chair/director must respond in writing to the student with a copy to the instructor, their dean, and the Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals Committee (GAPDAC) within 20 business days. In this letter, the chair/director should confirm the meeting with the student, recap their discussion, and state whether the student has an appeal which meets the established criteria (A, B, C, or D above). If the situation appears to meet the criteria for appeal, the chair/unit director may recommend that the instructor reevaluate the student’s work. The chair/director cannot change the student’s grade without the instructor’s agreement. Note: Grade appeals or other complaints based on charges of discrimination or sexual harassment should be taken to the Office of Institutional Equity or other office, pursuant to other University policies and procedures.
- Appeal to committee: After the chair has completed the response to the student’s appeal, the student may appeal to the Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals Committee (GAPDAC). This appeal must be initiated within 20 business days completion of step 2. If the student has requested a meeting with the academic unit chair/director and has not been granted such a meeting within 40 business days of the student’s request, the student may then initiate an appeal to GAPDAC.
The student will initiate an appeal through the Office of the Ombudsman. When the Ombuds receives an appeal, the Provost or designate will schedule a meeting of GAPDAC using procedures determined by the Professional Concerns Committee (PCC) of the Faculty Senate. The GAPDAC will consist of three members drawn from a pool of faculty established for this purpose. In a grade appeal, both the student(s) and the instructor should provide a written statement describing the situation under consideration. An appearance to provide additional information at the appeal by either the instructor or student(s) may be requested by the appeals committee. A GAPDAC can effectuate a grade change by majority vote. The decision of the hearing panel is final and not subject to appeal.
- Instructor unavailable to assign grade: Circumstances may arise which may prevent an instructor from assigning a grade in a timely manner. In such instances, the academic unit chair/director will make reasonable efforts to contact and ask the instructor to supply a grade. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the instructor’s academic chair/director will appoint another qualified faculty member to assign the grade.
Program Dismissal Appeals
This section applies when a student wants to appeal a decision to dismiss the student from an academic program for reasons other than charges of violations of academic integrity policies. Appeal panels are assembled from the faculty under the authority of and by the designate of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Throughout this process, the Office of the Ombudsman is available to students and instructors for assistance on procedures and clarification of the rights of all parties.
The accepted bases of a program dismissal appeal are:
- The program dismissal decision was made in a manner inconsistent with University policy or the program policy.
- The program dismissal procedures were not followed.
- Evaluation/performance standards were arbitrarily or unequally applied.
A program dismissal appeal cannot be made in response to an academic integrity or conduct dismissal from the University. The student’s status, as dismissed from the program, will remain unaltered until a successful appeal is completed.
Note: A program dismissal appeal based on charges of discrimination or sexual harassment should be taken to the Office of Institutional Equity or other office, pursuant to other University policies and procedures.
Appeal to committee: The student may appeal to a Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals Committee (GAPDAC). This appeal must be initiated within twenty business days of the notification of program dismissal. The student will initiate an appeal through the Office of the Ombudsman. When the appeal is received, the Provost or designate will schedule a meeting of GAPDAC using procedures determined by the Professional Concerns Committee of the Faculty Senate. The GAPDAC will consist of three members drawn from a panel of faculty established for this purpose. In a program dismissal, the student appellant should attend the meeting of the appeal panel and must provide a written statement describing the grounds for appeal. A University representative from the program must attend the meeting and must provide a written statement describing the grounds for and circumstances of dismissal.
A GAPDAC may reverse or sustain a program dismissal by majority vote. The decision of the hearing panel is final and not subject to appeal.
Selection, Training, And Organization of Grade and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee (GAPDAC)
A Grade and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee (GAPDAC) will be drawn from a pool of faculty who are trained under procedures determined by the Professional Concerns Committee (PCC) of the Faculty Senate. For each appeal that requires review, a GAPDAC panel will be selected to hear the appeal and to decide the matter.
Each academic college shall provide a cohort of tenured or tenure-track faculty members to serve on the GAPDAC pool in proportion to its respective student credit hour production. Faculty members will serve three-year terms (with staggered terms for the first GAPDAC pools, to ensure continuity of experience and training). It will be necessary to include in the pool those who can serve during summer sessions.
Each GAPDAC shall be composed of three faculty members, at least one of whom is from the college where the course or program in question resides. Each GAPDAC will elect a faculty member to chair the committee, and each GAPDAC must have all three members present to have a quorum. Procedures for selection of a GAPDAC will be constructed and administered by the PCC.
Faculty Oversight of Grade and Program Dismissal Appeals Committees
The PCC shall function as an oversight committee for reviewing and monitoring all University policies and procedures dealing with grade and program dismissal appeal issues. A report of all GAPDAC activities shall be made to the Faculty Senate Executive Board each year by the PCC, and recommendations for changes in policies and procedures regarding grade and program dismissal appeal issues may be part of that annual report. Such recommendations may result in modifications to these policies and procedures.
A dismissed student has the option to petition the department/unit (or graduate dean if a non-degree student) for immediate re-admission. The department/unit/graduate dean then may elect to not re-admit the student at all, to re-admit the student immediately, or to re-admit the student for a later enrollment period. The department/unit/graduate dean may also to elect to re-admit the student on either Probation status or Extended Probation status (Probation status will allow the student up to two enrollments to achieve Good Standing, while Extended Probation status will allow one enrollment).
Should the department/unit/graduate dean elect to re-admit the student immediately a request should be made to the Office of the Registrar. If the student is to be re-admitted for a later enrollment period, the change should be made on a date which precludes registration in an earlier enrollment period.
Dissertation/Specialist Project/Thesis Appeals Procedure
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If there are differences among the members of a dissertation/specialist project/thesis committee over the approval of the dissertation/specialist project/thesis committee and its oral defense, it shall be the responsibility of the committee to undertake every reasonable effort to resolve these differences and come to a unanimous decision.
In the event a student wishes to appeal a negative decision by the student’s dissertation/specialist project/thesis committee, the student shall first take the appeal to this same committee, which shall hear the appeal and render a decision. In case the committee cannot reach a unanimous agreement and the student wishes to appeal further a negative decision, a Review Committee shall be established consisting of the dean of The Graduate College, the appropriate academic dean, and the chairperson or director of the unit. The Review Committee shall seek to resolve the controversy without passing on the dissertation/specialist project/thesis committee. The Review Committee handling such a case is limited to procedural actions, such as reconstituting the committee if the case merits it.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
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The Office of the Registrar is the institution’s official custodian of educational records. This office also holds the final responsibility in the enforcement of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Maintaining confidentiality of educational records is the responsibility of all users whether the individuals are faculty, staff, or students. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act affords students certain rights with respect to their educational records. They are:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s educational records within 45 days of the date the University receives a request for access.
Students should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the University official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
An educational record is a record which is maintained by the institution directly related to a student, and from which a student can be identified. Educational records do not include the records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel, which are in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute, records of the law enforcement unit, student health records, employment records, or alumni records.
Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the Act:
- Financial information submitted by their parents
- Confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment, or job placement.
- Honors information to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review.
- Educational records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student.
The right to request the amendment of the student’s educational records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights.
Students may ask the University to amend a record they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the University official responsible for the records, clearly identifying the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s educational records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosures without consent.
One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to University officials with legitimate educational interests and/or needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. A University official for the purpose of this policy is defined as follows:
- Members of the faculty
- Members of the professional, executive and administrative staff, excluding any member of the WMU Police Department
- Students, when properly appointed as members of a hearing panel or screening committee
- Representatives of the State Auditor General when performing their legal function
- A person or company with whom the University has contracted (e.g., attorney, auditor, or collection agency) but limited to only the specific student information needed to fulfill their contract
- Others as designated in writing by the President, Vice President, or Dean
- Persons in compliance with a court order and to persons in an emergency in order to the protect the health or safety of students or other persons.
- Accrediting agencies performing an accreditation function
Upon request, WMU may disclose education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for the purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.
Another exception that permits disclosure without consent is when the information consists solely of “Directory Information.” Directory Information may be published or released by University faculty and staff at their discretion. Unless a student specifically directs otherwise, as explained more fully in paragraph four (4) below, WMU designates all of the following categories of information about its students as “Directory Information.”
E-mail (Effective July 1, 2007)
Date and place of birth
Curriculum and major field of study
Dates of attendance
Enrollment status (full-time/part-time/three-quarter time)
Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student
Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
Weight and height of athletes
A student has the right to refuse the designation of all categories of personally identifiable information listed above as Directory Information. If a student exercises this right, it will mean that no Directory Information pertaining to the student will be published or otherwise released to third parties without consent, a court order or a subpoena.
Any student wishing to exercise the right of withholding all categories of personally identifiable information must inform the Registrar’s Office in writing by not later than the fifth day of the semester/session. A student’s notification to withhold information will remain in effect until the student requests in writing that the prior withholding be revoked.
A student has the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by WMU to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.
Residency Policy of Western Michigan University
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The entire residency policy of Western Michigan University is included in the “Tuition and Fees” section of this catalog.
Policies on Reporting Criminal and Unethical Activities
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Western Michigan University Board of Trustees’ Policy on Duty to Report Criminal Acts
- Whereas, the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees and president strongly believe that it is essential to provide a safe, ethical and protective environment for all members of the University community: and
- Whereas, the Board and president expect members of the campus community to always be vigilant for the well-being of colleagues, students and visitors and to be cognizant of the special needs of those populations the University serves that are particularly vulnerable to criminal abuse; and
- Whereas, the University has taken steps to ensure that all members of the University community have multiple ways to report possible criminal or ethical violations, including directly to the Department of Public Safety or anonymously through a secure website and phone line established through a well-respected external company;
Therefore, in furtherance of these principles, it is resolved that:
- It is the polity of Western Michigan University that all University employees, students, contractors, and other University-affiliated persons are charged with a duty to promptly report acts having any connection to the University that they in good faith believe could be criminal in nature. Such reports shall be made to the University’s Department of Public Safety or through a secure website and phone line established for that purpose and publicized on campus.
- This policy is not intended to supersede or conflict with any other duty to report conduct as required by law or University policies, rules, requirements, and collective bargaining agreements. The president and board treasurer are each empowered to enact additional requirements and procedures to effectuate this policy and make amendments as they deem appropriate in accordance with its purposes.
(Adopted by the WMU Board of Trustees Dec 8, 2011.)
President’s Statement on Reporting Illegal and Unethical Activities
(December 8, 2011)
“This has been a fall rife with scandal and underlying tragedy for individuals connected with two of our sister institutions - Penn State and Syracuse. I write to share my views and opinions about the shortcomings illustrated in those situations. This is a topic of discussion and deep concern among all of us on this and every campus in the nation.
In reflecting on these sad and appalling national stories, it is important to reaffirm what I believe are the core responsibilities of every citizen in our University and broader communities. Above and beyond any misplaced desire to protect or preserve the reputation of an individual or an organization, it is imperative that we all remember our primary obligation is to protect and defend those among us who are most vulnerable. In the long run, our reputation and strength as an institution will only be enhanced by our commitment to come to the aid of victims and discipline any individuals who take advantage of the positions of trust in which we have placed them.
If you encounter a situation in which you see someone being victimized, or you encounter something you believe to be a crime, call our Department of Public Safety. Do this first. Afterward you can inform your supervisor. Our public safety officers are trained to determine the facts of any incident. Simply call (269) 387-5555 to alert the proper officials.
As is sometimes the case in any large organization, there may be a time when you hesitate to report a crime, because you worry that you or your position may be vulnerable. Much earlier this year, we decided to enhance our ability to receive information from faculty and staff about possible wrongdoing in a way that would address such concerns. We now have a contract with a highly respected company called EthicsPoint that provides an anonymous website to report possible criminal or ethical violations. There is also a phone line that can be used to report wrongdoing. We had intended to publicize this option after the coming holiday break, but because of the timely nature of this tool and a strong statement issued by our Board of Trustees today, I want you to know the system is already in place.
If you feel the need to maintain anonymity and report a situation that is legally or ethically wrong, you may do so by going to wmuhotline.ethicspoint.com, select Make a Report in the top right menu and follow the prompts. To use the phone line, call (855) 247-3145. I suspect - and hope - we may never need this tool, but am mindful that, at nearly 30,000, we are a community the size of a small city and we might have someone who does not meet our exacting standards.
Thank you in advance for your commitment to ensure everything we do is accomplished using the strongest moral, legal, and ethical standards.”
Clery Act Annual Report
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires availability of the annual security and fire safety compliance document to prospective students, faculty, and staff. It can be obtained from the website of Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety at www.wmudps.wmich.edu/Documents/ANNUALREPORT.pdf.
You may request a hard copy version by calling (269) 387-5555. The report includes campus security and personal safety information as well as crime prevention, fire safety, university police law enforcement authority, crime reporting policies, disciplinary procedures and other matters related to security and safety of campus. It also includes crime reporting statistics for the previous three years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus, in certain off-campus buildings, or properties owned or controlled by Western Michigan University, and on public property within or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus.
Updated April 2014
Western Michigan University Statements, Policies, and Procedures regarding Diversity, Multiculturalism, Inclusion, and Non-Discrimination
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President’s Statement on Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Inclusion
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(November 26, 2007)
“Great universities, including Western Michigan University, strive for an inclusive environment in which the student body, faculty, and staff reflect society at large. Western Michigan University has a long history and well-deserved reputation of being committed to diversity and multiculturalism. The university’s programs, faculty, staff, and students reflect that commitment. Our welcoming environment is one to honor, preserve, and nurture.
Western Michigan University’s development of a Diversity and Multicultural Action Plan (DMAP), adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2006, is a significant step in reinforcing our dedication to inclusion. It is a “living document” we will update and revise, based on input from the University community, those responsible for implementing it, and applicable law.
As the DMAP states, diversity at WMU “encompasses inclusion, acceptance, respect, and empowerment” and “includes the dimensions of race, ethnicity, and national and regional origins; sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation; socioeconomic status, age, physical attributes, and abilities; as well as religious, political, cultural, and intellectual ideologies and practices.” The DMAP also points out that “multiculturalism at WMU is a belief that speaks to the issues of human diversity, cultural pluralism, and human rights for all people” and that it “goes beyond the recognition of diversity.”
WMU’s pledge toward inclusiveness is likewise reflected in the non-discrimination policy adopted by the Board of Trustees, which prohibits discrimination or harassment which violates the law or which constitutes inappropriate or unprofessional limitation of employment opportunity, University facility access, or participation in University activities, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, protected disability, veteran status, height, weight, or marital status.
In 2006, Michigan voters amended the state constitution to prohibit certain forms of discrimination or preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Of course the University will comply with these new requirements, while continuing to maintain and support an environment that is welcoming to all.
The University promotes a diversity of ideas and intellectual inquiry, always with a steadfast dedication to discussions that are civil, courteous, and respectful. As an international university, WMU recruits students, faculty, and staff from throughout the world, ensuring that the entire University community is a better place as a result of its abundance of cultures and viewpoints.
To preserve and enhance its commitment to diversity and multiculturalism, the University must continue to recruit and retain faculty, staff, and students who understand and appreciate the importance of inclusion. The university must also foster and support programs and projects that help the entire University community appreciate and value the benefits that come from being part of a campus where all are welcomed.
The University’s prosperity and future successes will be measured, in part, by the degree to which it is inclusive and respectful of those it serves. I ask you to join me in taking a personal interest to do what we can so that all within the University community know that they are welcomed and supported. Together we will do so with conviction and by taking action that is consistent with the values of a great university -one that honors and respects the customs, cultures, and opinions found on a diverse and multicultural campus that is rich in the composition of its people and ideas…”
In order to sustain WMU’s long history of diversity efforts and to improve the inclusive nature of WMU’s campus community, the Office of Diversity was established in 2007. This office is responsible for numerous duties including but not limited to implementation of the Diversity and Multiculturalism Action Plan (DMAP); management of the University affairs for the Kalamazoo Promise; planning of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation; support for community development activities relating to recruitment of students of all levels and descriptions; and other projects as directed by the president. All members of the University community are asked to give their cooperation and assistance in these efforts.
Western Michigan University prohibits discrimination or harassment which violates the law or which constitutes inappropriate or unprofessional limitation of employment opportunity, University facility access, or participation in University activities, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, protected disability, veteran status, height, weight, or marital status.
WMU and Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct, including Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence
Western Michigan University is committed to an environment that is safe and free from sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, for all members of the campus community. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Elliot-Larson Civil Rights Act, as amended, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in both the workplace and educational programs and activities.
Western Michigan University recently embarked upon revising our policy regarding sexual misconduct. After considerable research, input, and work, an interim WMU Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, and Stalking Policy has been developed. The policy will be finalized before the beginning of the fall 2015 semester, following additional opportunities for input by students, staff, and faculty.
As part of the University’s commitment to provide an educational and work environment free from sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking, this policy is being disseminated widely to the University community through email communication, publications, websites, new employee orientations, student orientations, and other channels of communication.
The University has recently revised its Sexual Misconduct Policy. The policy is administered by the Office of Institutional Equity. The interim policy may be found at: http://www.wmich.edu/sexualmisconduct
In addition, the interim policy in its entirety can be downloaded and read:
A list of resources can be found at: http://www.wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u38/2015/WMU%20Resource%20Page%20FINAL.pdf
All University students, faculty, and staff are subject to the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Message from President Dunn re: Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy
January 13, 2015
As I mentioned in a recent message to the campus community, now that our students are back on campus, it is time to roll out a new policy and set of procedures for addressing sexual misconduct. The move is part of our longstanding commitment to maintaining a safe campus.
For the past six months, the nation has been awash in stories about sexual assaults on college campuses. During the same period, the U.S. Department of Education has launched Title IX investigations of 85 campuses across the nation, including three in Michigan. Even before all of those developments, we chose to be proactive and examine our University’s policies to ensure they are sound, fair and within the scope of new federal guidelines.
We began early last year to examine our policy. A campus-wide committee was formed, and we enlisted the aid of a national law firm with expertise on Title IX. While we wanted to make sure we are in compliance with recent federal guidelines, an even more important reason to launch the review was our commitment to having a campus that is a safe and welcoming environment. We wanted to make sure we did not have procedures in place that discouraged any campus community member from reporting misconduct. It was simply the right thing to do.
The WMU Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, and Stalking Interim Policy and Procedures are now in effect. The policy is outlined on the Web. The site includes links that will allow you to download the complete 35-page document. There is also a second very important downloadable document—a four-page list of campus and community resources that include organizations that provide public safety, medical and counseling assistance.
I urge you to study both documents carefully, taking particular note of the passages that outline employee reporting responsibilities. The policy and procedures are correctly labeled “interim.” Before we finalize them for the start of the fall 2015 semester, we would like your feedback. To that end, an external and anonymous tool has been established. Please provide your comments about the new policy and procedures.
Working together, we will develop a final policy version that is fair, effective and reflective of our campus values. Thank you, in advance, for your help in the coming weeks and months.
John M. Dunn
Western Michigan University Student Code
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Western Michigan University is a student-centered research university, building intellectual inquiry, investigation, and discovery into all undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The university provides leadership in teaching, research, learning, and public service. Nationally recognized and internationally engaged, the University:
Forges a responsive and ethical academic community
Develops foundations for achievement in pluralistic societies
Incorporates participation from diverse individuals in decision-making
Contributes to technological and economic development
Engenders an awareness and appreciation of the arts
The Student Code and the Office of Student Conduct are tangible examples that illustrate commitment to these ideals. The Student Code describes the boundaries of acceptable student behavior and is approved by the Board of Trustees. The Office of Student Conduct interprets and enforces the Student Code.
A student who chooses to enroll at Western Michigan University assumes the obligation for conduct that is compatible with the University’s mission as an educational institution. While students have the privilege to enroll at the institution of their choice, choosing to enroll at Western Michigan University requires a student to become aware of, and to abide by the behavior standards of the University. Ignorance of acceptable boundaries of student behavior as contained in the Student Code is not a basis for excusing inappropriate behavior.
The University conduct process is not analogous to, is not equivalent to, and does not conform to, criminal law processes. This process is designed, in part, to determine responsibility, or lack thereof, for violations of the Student Code not only guilt or innocence relative to criminal matters. The University conduct process shall be informal in nature so as to provide substantial justice and it shall not be bound by the same proceedings, definitions, or rules which apply in the courts of law.
The conduct of students in the educational community is a part of the teaching process and as such, its focus shall be educational. This includes the possible use of suspension or expulsion as disciplinary measures as they may prove invaluable tools in the education of the University community. The student conduct system is not only concerned with the individual student’s welfare, but also the welfare of the University community. Any question about the processes, rules, or policies, or any other concern not specifically covered by the Student Code shall be decided solely by the Dean/Associate Dean of Students/ or designee. Additionally, the Student Code provisions may be extended or amended to apply to new and unanticipated situations which may arise.
Enrollment in the University does not insulate students from their obligation to behave in a manner consistent with local, state, and federal law. Violation of local, state, and federal law while on University premises may also constitute a violation of the Student Code. Some of the policies referred to in the Student Code may also constitute violations of local, state, or federal law and carry the possibility of criminal prosecution or civil legal action.
While the University does not desire to act as a policing authority for the activities of the student off of University premises, the University may take appropriate action in situations involving misconduct demonstrating flagrant disregard for any person or persons, and/or when a student’s or student organization’s behavior is judged to threaten the health, safety, and/or property of any individual or group even when the misconduct occurs off University premises.
While any violation of the Student Code is considered a serious matter, certain violations are considered to be especially egregious. These violations include acts of academic misconduct, any act that disrupts the functions of the University, and any act that threatens the health or safety of any member of the University community or any other person. Students involved in these activities are considered a threat to the orderly functioning of the University, and their behavior is considered detrimental to the educational mission.
Western Michigan University Expectations for Good Practice in Graduate Education
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The Mission of WMU
Western Michigan University is a student-centered research university, building intellectual inquiry, investigation, and discovery into all undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The university provides leadership in teaching, research, learning, and public service. Nationally recognized and internationally engaged, the University:
- Forges a responsive and ethical academic community
- Develops foundations for achievement in pluralistic societies
- Incorporates participation from diverse individuals in decision-making
- Contributes to technological and economic development
- Engenders an awareness and appreciation of the arts
Graduate education at WMU encompasses all of these goals and strives to provide students an environment that fosters scholarship, independent judgment, academic rigor, and intellectual honesty.
Professional Rights of Graduate Student Appointees
A portion of students at Western Michigan University has been granted graduate appointments. These graduate appointees serve an academic or service unit within the university. In return for their service they are given a salary, and partial or full tuition remission. Graduate appointees, in addition to having the basic and academic rights mentioned below, also have professional rights. These include meaningful teaching, research, or service responsibilities; clear and reasonable departmental expectations; work activities that average twenty hours per week for a full appointee; approved leaves of absence; and due process in regard to service disputes. The rights of teaching assistants are specifically given in the 2012-15 Agreement between Western Michigan University and the Teaching Assistants Union (www.tauaft.org ).
Student Rights and Responsibilities
Basic and academic rights and responsibilities are set forth in the Graduate Catalog, the Research Misconduct Policy (http://wmich.edu/research/policies/misconduct), the Student Code of Conduct (www.wmich.edu/conduct/docs/WMU_studentcode.pdf), and other policies of Western Michigan University. Basic rights include, but are not limited to, the rights of inquiry, expression, and association; freedom from discrimination and harassment; personal security; freedom from improper disclosure; access to personal records; and participation in university governance. Academic rights include, but are not limited to, the right to be evaluated fairly; to have academic freedom in discussing their subject; to be fully informed by faculty regarding the requirements of each class and course of study; and to have access to and explanations of all graded materials.
Along with rights come responsibilities. Students at WMU are required to conduct themselves in a mature, professional, ethical, and civil manner. This includes engaging in academic honesty and ethical research conduct. In the academic arena, students are expected not to engage in such behaviors as cheating; fabrication, falsification, or forgery; multiple submissions; plagiarism; computer misuse; and complicity with others regarding such offenses. While conducting research, students are expected to maintain the same standards as they apply to the design of studies, treatment of subjects, collection of data, and reporting of that data. A complete listing of responsibilities is detailed in university policies.
Graduate students must:
- Conduct themselves appropriately in all interactions with faculty and staff in accordance with the accepted standards of the discipline and WMU policies governing discrimination and harassment.
- Take primary responsibility to inform themselves of regulations, rules, and policies governing their graduate studies and research at WMU.
- Recognize that faculty and staff have many professional responsibilities, in addition to graduate education.
- Recognize that the faculty have broad discretion to allocate their own time and other resources in ways that are academically productive.
- Recognize that the faculty adviser, who provides the intellectual and instructional environment in which that student plans a program of study, may be involved with research for which the student provides assistance, and that the University, through the faculty advisor’s access to teaching and research funds, may also provide the student with special financial support for that research.
- Expect that a student’s research results, with the appropriate recognition, may be incorporated into progress reports, summary documents, applications for continuation for funding, and similar documents authored by the faculty advisor.
- Recognize that the faculty advisor is responsible for monitoring the accuracy, creativity, validity, and integrity of the student’s research. Careful, well conceived research reflects favorably on the student, the faculty advisor, the degree program, and WMU.
- Exercise the highest integrity in taking examinations, completing master’s, specialist’s, and doctoral projects, and/or collecting, analyzing, and presenting research data in theses, dissertations, and presentations.
- As applicable to the student’s degree program, acknowledge contributions of the faculty advisor and other members of the research team to the student’s work in all publications and conference presentations; acknowledgment may mean co-authorship when that is appropriate.
- Recognize that in some disciplines, the faculty advisor will determine when a body of work is ready for publication, exhibition or performance, and is an acceptable product, since the faculty advisor bears responsibility for overseeing the performance of the students and ensuring the validity of any applicable research.
- Maintain the confidentiality of the faculty advisor’s professional activities and research prior to presentations and/or publication, in accordance with existing practices and policies of the discipline and the University.
- Be allowed the opportunity to participate in the governance of the University as designated by the Graduate Student Advisory Committee for representation on the councils of the Faculty Senate. They shall also have representation at the departmental level, in faculty meetings and on standing committees, (e.g., policy, hiring, graduate issues) except in cases where confidential personnel matters are under consideration.
- When serving as teaching assistants, abide by the academic regulations of the University and be afforded the rights of an instructor, including the protection of academic freedom.
- Cooperate and assist in any investigations as requested by the University.
Correspondingly, it is imperative that faculty:
- Interact with students in a professional and civil manner in accordance with the accepted standards of the discipline and Western Michigan University’s policies governing discrimination and harassment.
- Impartially evaluate student performance, regardless of the graduate student’s religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or other criteria as established by law, the collective bargaining agreement, and/or University policies.
- Serve on graduate student committees without regard to the religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or other criteria as established by law, the collective bargaining agreement, and/or University policies.
- Prevent personal rivalries with colleagues from interfering with their duties as graduate advisors, committee members, directors of graduate studies, or colleagues.
- Avoid dual relationships that could impair their professional judgment. They will excuse themselves from serving as advisors on graduate committees or supervising assistantship work when there is a financial, familial, friendship, or other close personal relationship that could result in a conflict of interest.
- Acknowledge any student contributions to research and/or creative activity presented at conferences, in professional publications, or in applications for copyrights and patents.
- Not impede a graduate student’s progress and completion of his/her degree in order to benefit from the student’s proficiency as a teaching or research assistant.
- Create in the classroom, lab, or studio, supervisory relations with students that stimulate and encourage students to learn creatively and independently.
- Have a clear understanding with graduate students about their specific academic, creative activity, and/or research responsibilities, including time lines for completion of comprehensive examinations, research, and the thesis or dissertation, as applicable.
- Provide oral and written comments and evaluation of each student’s work in a timely manner.
- Assist the departmental director of graduate studies in an annual review of graduate students’ progress.
- Discuss laboratory, departmental and authorship policy with graduate students in advance of entering into collaborative projects.
- Ensure an absence of coercion with regard to the participation of graduate students as human research subjects in their faculty advisors’ research.
- Be aware of the responsibilities inherent in the faculty-student relationship and avoid dual relationships that may exploit students by virtue of their authority. Faculty who have a direct teaching or advising relationship with a student are prohibited from requesting that a student do personal work (mowing lawns, babysitting, etc.) with or without appropriate compensation.
- Familiarize themselves with policies that affect their graduate students.
- Evaluate students’ progress and performance in regular and informative ways consistent with timely completion of the degree.
- Cooperate and assist in any investigations as requested by the University.
Transmission of Knowledge in Graduate Education
Graduate education is structured around the generation and transmission of knowledge at the highest level. In many cases, graduate students depend upon faculty advisors to assist them in identifying and gaining access to financial and/or intellectual resources that support their graduate programs. In addition, faculty advisors and department administrators must apprise students of the “job market” so that students can develop realistic expectations for the outcomes of their studies.
In some academic units, the student’s specific advisor may change during the course of the student’s program. The role of advising may also change and become a mentoring relationship.
The reward of finding a faculty advisor implies that the student has achieved a level of excellence and sophistication in the field or exhibits sufficient promise to merit the more intensive interest, instruction, and counsel of faculty.
To this end, graduate students must:
- Devote an appropriate amount of time and energy toward achieving academic excellence and earning an advanced degree.
- Be aware of time constraints and other demands imposed on faculty members and program staff.
- Take the initiative to ask questions that promote understanding of the academic subjects and advances in the field.
- Communicate regularly with faculty advisors, particularly in matters related to research and progress within the graduate program and with any teaching responsibilities.
Correspondingly, faculty advisors should:
- Provide clear guidelines for all requirements each student must meet, including course work, languages, research tools, examinations, thesis or dissertation, teaching/laboratory assistantships, and delineating the amount of time expected to complete each step.
- Evaluate student progress and performance in regular and informative ways consistent with the practice in the field.
- Help students develop interpretive, writing, oral, and quantitative skills, in accordance with the expectations of the discipline and the specific degree program.
- Assist graduate students in the development of grant writing skills, where appropriate.
- Take reasonable measures to ensure that graduate students who initiate thesis or dissertation research/creative activity do so in a timely fashion, regardless of the overall demand of assistantships in the laboratory, studio, or classroom.
- When appropriate, encourage graduate students to participate in professional meetings or display their work in public forums and exhibitions.
- Stimulate in each graduate student an appreciation of professional skills they will be required to master in their respective disciplines, i.e., teaching, administration, research, writing, and creativity.
- Create an ethos of collegiality so that learning takes place within a community of scholars.
In academic units, faculty advisors support the academic promise of graduate students in their programs. In some cases, academic advisors are assigned to entering graduate students to assist them in academic advising and other matters. In other cases, students select faculty advisors in accordance with the disciplinary interest or research expertise of faculty. Advising is variant in its scope and breadth and may be accomplished in many ways.
A student’s academic performance and faculty member’s scholarly interest may coincide during the course of instruction and research/creative activity/performance. As the faculty-graduate student relationship matures and intensifies, direct collaboration may involve the sharing of authorship or right to intellectual property developed in research or other creative activity. Such collaborations are encouraged and are a desired outcome of the mentoring process.
It is understood that the standards of mentoring may differ by department, depending on the degrees students are pursuing and the availability of the time that students who work as professionals in communities outside Kalamazoo have to consult with their advisors. Nevertheless, it is recommended that advisement, consultation and mentoring be nurtured via electronic means if they cannot be nurtured in person.
It is further understood that the department must establish appropriate policies and practices to assist students whose major advisor or committee member is no longer able to serve in that capacity. Graduate students assigned to participate in externally funded research grants must become aware of the special importance of completing their research commitments. These commitments extend beyond financial concerns to encompass issues of professional ethics, legal compliance with external authorities, and institutional loyalty.
Note: Western Michigan University wishes to thank the University of Missouri at Columbia for permission to use portions of their graduate code.
Western Michigan University Adjudication of Situations Involving Graduate Students’ Rights and Responsibilities
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1.0 Academic Rights and Responsibilities
Whenever a graduate student has been accused of behavior that is in violation of academic regulations, the existing Graduate Catalog governs the adjudication of the accusation.
2.0 Basic Rights and Responsibilities
Whenever a graduate student has been accused of behavior that is in violation of non-academic regulations, the University Student Code governs the adjudication. The Research Misconduct Policy governs the adjudication of alleged violations of ethical research behavior.
In addition to the rights and responsibilities of all graduate students, there are rights and responsibilities that pertain specifically to graduate students who are serving on appointments. These appointments include doctoral associateships, doctoral fellowships, graduate assistantships, and graduate fellowships. Because of the special nature of the relationship between a graduate appointee and the faculty members in the department being served, there are additional requirements.
3.0 Professional Rights and Responsibilities of Graduate Appointees
This resolution process governs matters other than those governed by the Graduate Catalog, the Student Code and/or the Research Misconduct Policy.
Graduate appointees serve the University through appointments that are awarded by the departments/schools under the sponsorship of Academic Affairs and the Graduate College. Therefore, the path to resolving certain disputes resides first with the department/school and next with the Graduate College.
For graduate appointees with a teaching classification, the terms of the 2012-15 Agreement between Western Michigan University and the Teaching Assistants Union (www.tauaft.org) regarding grievance and arbitration procedures (Article 16) will supercede the policy given below.
3.1 Departmental/School Level. Resolution of issues at the departmental/school level may be handled informally. If disputes arise between graduate appointees and their departments, both should attempt to resolve them in informal, direct discussions. If the problem remains unresolved, then the unit administrator should be consulted. If still aggrieved, a student may then submit a formal, written request for consideration by the Department/School Hearing Board. The Department/School Hearing Board shall be comprised of the unit administrator or designee, two faculty members, and two graduate students from the department. The faculty members are to be selected by the department. One graduate student is to be selected by the departmental graduate student organization and a second graduate student by the Graduate Student Advisory Committee. Where no departmental graduate student organization exists, both students will be selected by the Graduate Student Advisory Committee. If the unit administrator is directly involved in the case, neither the unit administrator nor the designee may serve on the hearing board. In such cases, the office of the Dean of the Graduate College will appoint a replacement member.
3.2 Graduate College Level. The Graduate College shall establish a hearing board comprised of a representative of the Academic College as designated by the Dean of that College, the Dean of the Graduate College or designee, the Chair of the Graduate Student Advisory Committee or designee, one faculty member from the department in question, and one student chosen by the Graduate Student Advisory Committee.
3.3 A member who has faculty rank from a unit not involved with the dispute shall chair each hearing board.
3.4 Term of Office. Hearing board members at both levels shall be selected in the fall of the year and shall serve one year. The one-year term shall not preclude reappointment of any member the following year.
3.5 The formal request alleging violations of professional rights must include a proposed remedy that could be implemented by a responsible administrator. The department/school, within the limits of its resources and the limits imposed by due respect for the professional rights of the faculty, seeks an appropriate remedy for legitimate student complaints.
3.6 Written requests for a hearing must be initiated no later than mid-term of the semester or the end of the session following the term wherein the alleged violation occurred. The appropriate Hearing Board may grant an exception to this provision if the involved party or student is absent from the University during that session.
3.7 The student initiating the grievance may request the hearing at the Department/School level. Under special circumstances (with approval of the Graduate College) the resolution of an issue may begin at the Graduate College level.
3.8 Hearing Boards shall establish their own procedures in a manner consistent with this document. A copy of the procedures adopted by each unit shall be filed with the appropriate Dean’s office and with the office of the Dean of the Graduate College.
3.9 Upon receipt of a formal request, the chairperson of the Hearing Board shall transmit a copy of the grievance within ten (10) class days to the Hearing Board members and to the person(s) party to the matter.
3.10 In urgent cases in which it is alleged that a regulation, administrative decision or action threatens immediate and irreparable damage to any of the parties involved, the Hearing Board or judiciary shall expedite the hearing and final disposition of the case.
3.11 A Hearing Board or judiciary is empowered to act on a request to direct an individual or unit to discontinue or postpone an administrative decision or action that threatens immediate and irreparable damage to any of the parties involved, pending final disposition of the case. The Hearing Board shall expedite the hearing and final disposition of this urgent case.
3.12 A department/school or college Hearing Board shall review each hearing request for jurisdiction and judicial merit and may then forward a copy of the request to the appropriate individual and invite a written response. After considering all submitted information, the board may:
a. Accept the request, in full or in part, and proceed to schedule a hearing.
b. Reject the request and provide an appropriate explanation.
c. Invite all parties to meet with the board for an informal discussion of the issues. Such a discussion shall not preclude a later hearing.
3.13 Notice of hearing. At least three (3) days prior to a formal hearing, both the respondent and the complainant shall be entitled to a written notification of the hearing from the appropriate hearing body. This notice of hearing shall state:
- The nature of the issues, charges and/or conflicts to be heard with sufficient particularity to enable both the respondent and the complainant to prepare their respective cases.
- The date, time and place of the hearing.
- The body adjudicating the case.
- The names of the respondent and complainant.
- The name(s) of any potential witnesses.
3.14 Either the complainant or the respondent may request, with cause, a postponement prior to the scheduled time of a hearing. The Hearing Board may grant or deny such a request.
3.15 Both the respondent and the complainant shall be expected to appear at the hearing and present their cases.
- Should the complainant fail to appear, the board may either postpone the hearing or dismiss the case.
- Should the respondent fail to appear, the board may either postpone the hearing if good cause has been given for the failure to appear or hear the case in his or her absence.
- The judiciary may accept written statements from a party to the hearing in lieu of a personal appearance, but only in unusual circumstances. Such written statements must be submitted to the board at least one (1) day prior to the scheduled hearing.
3.16 Hearing Boards shall ensure that a collegial atmosphere prevails in hearings. Involvement of counsel should normally not be required. When present, counsel shall be limited to a member of the student body, faculty, or staff of the University.
3.17 During the hearing, parties to a complaint shall have an opportunity to state their cases, present evidence, designate witnesses, ask questions, and present a rebuttal.
3.18 The Hearing Board shall prepare a written report of findings and rationale for the decision and shall forward copies to the parties involved, to the responsible administrator(s), and to the Dean of the Graduate College. The report shall indicate the major elements of evidence, or lack thereof, which support the Hearing Board’s decision. All recipients are expected to respect the confidentiality of this report. When a Hearing Board finds that a violation of professional rights has occurred and that redress is possible, it shall direct the responsible administrator to provide redress. The administrator, in consultation with the Hearing Board, shall implement an appropriate remedy.
3.19 Appeals. The decision of the original Hearing Board is final, except in cases which result in a recommendation of termination of appointment. In such cases the decision may be appealed by either party to a grievance only to the next level Hearing Board. If the original hearing was by a department/school Hearing Board, the appeal shall be made to the Graduate College Hearing Board. If the original hearing was by the Graduate College Hearing Board, the appeal should be made to the Graduate Studies Council. In such cases, a subcommittee of the Graduate Studies Council shall be appointed by the chair of the council and shall include the chair as well as one council member and a graduate student serving on the council.
3.20 Appeals must allege either that applicable procedures for adjudicating the case were not followed in the previous hearing or that the findings of the Hearing Board were not supported by the preponderance of the evidence. Presentation of new evidence will not be permitted at an appeal hearing.
All appeals must be written and signed and must specify the alleged defects in the previous adjudication(s) in sufficient detail to justify further proceedings. The appeal must also specify the redress that is sought.
3.21 Appeals must be filed within ten (10) class days following a notice of a decision. Any action regarding the original decision shall be held in abeyance while under appeal.
3.22 The appellate board shall review each appeal request and may then forward a copy of the request to the appropriate individual and invite a written response. After considering all submitted information, the appellate board may
- Decide that sufficient reasons for an appeal do not exist and that the decision of the lower hearing body shall stand;
- Direct the lower hearing body to rehear the case or to reconsider or clarify its decision; or
- Decide that sufficient reasons exist for an appeal and accept the request, in full or in part, and proceed to schedule an appeal hearing.
3.23 Following an appeal hearing, an appellate board may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the lower hearing body.
3.24 Any intimidation or retaliation against a graduate student, including but not limited to actions which negatively impact the student’s grades or appointment status, solely for raising an issue concerning his/her appointment, questioning assignments or duties, and/or initiating or participating in proceedings under this policy, is strictly forbidden. Any person confirmed to have so intimidated or retaliated will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
3.25 Nothing in this process shall be construed to be considered a contract between the graduate student and the University, and/or to supersede or negate other University policies, procedures, and/or contractual requirements.
Note: Western Michigan University wishes to thank Michigan State University for permission to adapt portions of their graduate adjudication process.