KU Code of Student Rights compares with other universities
- Jan. 30, 2013
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You have the right to challenge your grade, but you can’t drink alcohol on University grounds.
A document made by the students, for the students specifically outlines what you can and can’t do on campus.
That document is called the KU Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and it makes sure your civil liberties are protected on campus.
“It makes it clear what rights you’re able to have on campus,” said Michael Laverty, chairman of the Student Rights Committee. “It makes rights a little more about the students. It puts students as priority and makes them involved with the process.”
Laverty, a senior in political science from Manassas, Va., said the Code is a safeguard for students, who may feel their civil liberties were infringed upon by the University or other entities. Now that Student Senate is reconvening, students can play an active role in the political process by joining the committee.
“The Code represents the very best of the University,” said Jane Tuttle, assistant vice provost of Student Success. “It’s based on the principles of fairness, honor and integrity. It determines a forum for violations. The University should be purposefully open, just, disciplined and caring. The Code brings a sense of community.”
Comparing other universities
The Code was drafted by the Student Senate and approved by the Chancellor in 1970. This makes the University one of the first to chart out students’ rights.
Even now, many universities don’t have a separate document like the Code to protect students. As a result, the Code grants students more explicit protection than other universities.
“There isn’t an explicit document that says that there are specific rights for students,” said Bill Harlan, acting coordinator of Student Activities at Kansas State University. “There’s a collection of policies that apply specifically to students. But they’re not really centralized.”
Harlan said the Office of Student Life is the main authority for students’ rights. Kansas State’s Policies and Procedures Manual lists rights of the whole community, and that can be extended to students, too.
The University of Missouri has a campus-wide manual called the “M-book,” that lists the basic student rights and responsibilities. Compared to the Code, the M-book grants most of the same rights. But unlike Kansas, it doesn’t explicitly grant protection of classroom speech along with other rights.
The University of Oklahoma also has a code of student rights and responsibilities, which was enacted in 2011. Like Missouri, Oklahoma doesn’t protect classroom speech, but it does protect students from being charged twice for a crime, something the KU Code doesn’t do.
The University of Texas uses its extensive General Information Catalog to list out rights of the whole community. It focuses on students’ rights and organizes them into an appendix of the catalog. Unlike the other four universities, Texas doesn’t say anything about the freedoms of student media in its catalog.
Kansas is the only university in the Big 12 conference that grants students’ protection from academic punishment for off-campus crime, a point debated over the past couple of years. Also, compared to many of these universities, Kansas allows students more say in their on-campus rights.
The Student Rights Committee is one of four standing committees of the Student Senate, and any interested student is welcome to join and comment on legislation.
According to the Senate’s rules and regulations, the Committee reviews the Code every two years. Last year, the committee approved changes that allows University housing violations to be evaluated on an individual basis, and expands students’ free speech rights to the Internet.
“The Code shows how powerful we actually are,” Laverty said about the Committee. “Right now, we’re considering a resolution concerning guns on campus.”
The Committee didn’t see much legislation during the fall semester, about 20 bills, but Laverty has a couple of main goals as chairman for the spring. One goal is to task the Committee with a judicial committee.
“The other standing committees have broad tasks,” Laverty said. “So bringing more judicial concerns to Rights would make sure it isn’t being underused. It would make rights more broader and increase its credibility more.”
Laverty also wants to help clean up the Senate’s rules and regulations and get students to show more interest in Senate and committee meetings.
“I’d love to get people on the committee more involved,” Laverty said. “It’s just a hard task sometimes, hunting for legislation. But hopefully we get some good issues.”
Vikaas is a senior from Naperville, Ill. majoring in journalism. Read more from Vikaas Shanker.