Freedom of Association
Individual students may join whatever associations they deem desirable and are entitled to affiliate with any group or organization with which they qualify for membership. Organizational constitutions, charters, and bylaws must be nondiscriminatory with reference to the beliefs, ethnicity, race, gender, gender expression, life experiences, nation-of-origin, disability, or sexual orientation of prospective members. Fraternities, sororities, and religious organizations shall not be considered discriminatory in terms of sex or religious affiliation, respectively.
A Free and Independent Press
Shepherd University recognizes the right of students to operate a free and independent press. The student press shall be free of undue censorship and its editors and managers shall be protected from arbitrary suspension arising from student, faculty, administration, alumni, or community disapproval of editorial policy or content as long as its policy or content adheres to the canons of ethical journalism. The campus administration shall provide similar rights to the University radio station and television courses including but not limited to podcasts, blogs, websites, short films, cartoons and graphics.
Although the University itself is charged with ultimate responsibility for the nature and content of its official publications, the editor-in-chief of each campus publication shall bear primary responsibility and accountability for the particular publication’s operation. Editors and managers will strive for accuracy in their publication by checking sources, and emphasizing the importance of doing so to their contributors, thus emphasizing an accurate and ethical work environment.
Right to Privacy
Shepherd students are entitled to the same safeguards of rights and freedoms of citizenship as are afforded their peers outside the academic community. The University recognizes its responsibilities to protect the interests of its students in preservation of privacy. Privacy rights exist under institutional policy, as well as under federal law, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
I. Student Records
All policies and practices concerning student records shall respect the privacy of the individual students. Records will be kept only on matters relevant to the educational process. Even these minimum records will not be disclosed except with the student’s written consent or as otherwise stated in the following policies.
A. Maintenance of student records:
1. Separate files will be maintained for academic records and supporting documents, such as, disciplinary, medical, financial aid, counseling and credential records, and other official personnel records.
2. The official student academic record, supporting documents, and other student files are confidential. They are to be maintained only by members of the University staff. All persons who handle confidential records shall be instructed concerning the confidential nature of such information and their responsibilities regarding it.
3. Student academic records shall be limited to information about academic status. No disciplinary information will be recorded on these records.
4. The University reserves the right to withhold academic records of students who are financially indebted to the institution.
5. Disciplinary Files: All disciplinary records except for records involving suspension and expulsion will be kept by the Dean of Students Office for no more than three years from the date of the sanction. Students in good behavior may request removal of disciplinary files after two years. This request must be made in writing to the Dean of Students or designee.
B. All students will be permitted to examine their own academic records and supporting documents, records of disciplinary proceedings, and other official personnel records. If students obtain a copy of any of these records, the University may charge a nominal fee for this service.
1. Medical, financial aid, counseling, and credential records contain information that will be available to students, as explained below:
a. Records created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, or other paraprofessional are normally available only to persons providing such help or treatment. Students are permitted, however, to designate a qualified third party to review such records on their behalf for accuracy. A qualified third party would be a competent professional in the area of concern. Nothing in this request will alter confidentiality of information otherwise protected by law.
b. Students will not have opportunity to examine the financial resources of their parents without parental consent in writing.
c. Former students will not have the right to see confidential letters and statements of recommendations placed in their educational records before January 1, 1975. Students will be permitted to waive their rights of access to confidential recommendations in these three areas: admissions, credential files, and receipt of awards. In these cases, students will be made aware of the names of persons making confidential recommendations on their behalf. Letters or statements of recommendations will be used only for their intended purposes.
d. Other than the exceptions listed above, students may have access to information in their admissions, financial aid, and job placement records.
e. The Office of the Registrar is charged with the exclusive responsibility for releasing official grade reports, transcripts, and grade point averages. Students who want documentation of this information for themselves or for transmission to third parties must obtain the documentation from the Office of the Registrar.
2. Former students will have the same rights of access to their records as currently enrolled students. Applicants to the University who are not admitted will not have these rights.
C. Students have a right to prior written consent for the release of personally identifiable information from the student’s records to individuals other than the student referred to in the records, but prior consent is not required in the instances outlined below:
1. Employees or agents of Shepherd University, including but not limited to faculty and staff, who need access to the record in order to fulfill a University-related responsibility;
2. Parents/guardians of dependent students, as defined for income tax purposes, in which case the University may but is not required to make non-consensual disclosures;
3. Parents/guardians, in instances of alcohol and drug infractions by the student;
4. When records are subpoenaed under a lawful court order;
5. The following directory information about individual students may be released or made public unless a student makes a written request to withhold such information: name, address, e-mail address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletics teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and most recent previous educational agency or institution attended. All students who do not wish the release of the directory information should file a written statement to that effect in the Office of the Registrar, Ikenberry Hall; and
6. All other instances in which FERPA does not mandate prior written consent.
D. Students have the right to challenge or contest any part of their education record, which they believe contains inaccurate or misleading information. This right does not permit the student to contest a grade on the grounds that a higher grade is deserved, but only to show that the grade has been inaccurately recorded. For information regarding grade appeals, see [Section] V., Student Grade Appeals.
1. Students should try to resolve the inaccuracy or the need to eliminate misleading information with the faculty or staff member responsible for the entry of the information on their record.
2. If resolution cannot be achieved in the above manner, a challenge to the accuracy of academic records should be submitted in writing to the Admissions and Credits Committee, stating the nature of the complaint and the evidence which seeks to prove that the entry is in error. This committee has the power to uphold or change any entry on students’ records which is challenged.
E. Students have a right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning failures by Shepherd University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. Complaints may be sent to:
• Family Policy Compliance Office
• U.S. Department of Education
• 400 Maryland Avenue, SW
• Washington, D.C., 20202
II. Confidential Communication
A. The matter of confidential communication frequently presents a problem between student and professor or administrator. When the problem under discussion could lead to administrative action, the student should seek an understanding regarding confidentiality before the counseling session.
B. Students who want to report a violation or file a complaint should contact the Dean of Students, any administrator in the Student Affairs or Residence Life Office, or campus Ombudsperson.
III. Student Living Quarters Shepherd University seeks to give every student the right of privacy against arbitrary and unnecessary intrusion into his/her private life.
A. Although the University will make reasonable effort to respect the privacy of a student’s room, Shepherd University maintains the right of access into a student’s room for reasons of emergency, maintenance, order, or concern for a student’s safety. Maintenance and safety inspections will be performed by authorized university personnel only. Illegal items in plain view may be confiscated by appropriate persons. For a full description of Residence Life Policies and Regulations, see Student Handbook, and the Shepherd University Residence Hall Contract.
B. Solicitation and sales of any service or product door-to-door in a residence hall or by way of the University telephone system is forbidden. Properly registered fund-raisers by recognized campus organizations are permitted. Advertisements, sale, or solicitation of alcoholic beverages is not allowed in residence halls or student mailboxes.