Student Substantive Rights
- Freedom of Association at UAFS
Students at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith are free to organize and to participate in associations of their own choosing, subject only to reasonable university regulations ensuring that such associations are neither illegally discriminatory in their treatment of other members of the university nor operating in a manner which substantially interferes with the rights of others. Freedom of association may not be forbidden because of the general political or philosophical orientation of any particular group. However, campus organizations have a strong obligation to avoid representation or giving the impression that their actions reflect the views of the university. Accordingly, it is the policy of UAFS that:
- Membership and participation in the organization must be open to all students without regard to race, color, sex, gender, age, national origin, religion, learning or physical disability, veteran’s status or gender identity, or sexual orientation. Membership and participation in the organization must also be open without regard to gender, unless exempt under Title IX.
- Student organizations that select their members on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs (e.g., religious or political beliefs) may limit membership and participation in the organization to students who, upon individual inquiry, affirm that they support the organization’s goals and agree with its beliefs, so long as no student is excluded from membership or participation on the basis of their race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, learning or physical disability, veteran’s status, or sexual orientation, with the Title IX exception mentioned above.
- The membership, policies and actions of a student organization usually will be determined by vote of only those people who are students in the university. Such organizations, to receive recognition within the academic community, must adhere to the organizational criteria.
- Affiliation with an extramural organization shall not in itself disqualify a student organization from institutional recognition or from the use of university facilities, although reasonable provisions may be made to safeguard the autonomy of a campus organization from domination by outside groups.
- All student organizations wishing to be officially recognized by UAFS must have an advisor who is a full-time employee of the university. The advisor’s role is to assist the organization, but not to control the activities of the organization. Student members typically ask a faculty or staff member to serve as advisor. In any case, the student leaders and the Director of Student Activities must agree on the assignment of an advisor.
- As a condition of recognition, student organizations are required to submit a statement of purpose, criteria for membership, rules of procedure and a current list of officers to the Student Activities Office.
- A student organization that is found by the Student Activities Office to be operating in a manner that is illegally discriminatory in its treatment of other members of the university community, may have its privileges to use university facilities or compete for activity fees withdrawn.
- Freedom of Speech and Assembly
UAFS values the democratic principles of free speech and assembly. As a public university, UAFS serves as a marketplace of ideas and fosters free speech, open discussion and debate of those ideas. No rule will restrict students’ expression solely on the basis of disapproval of or fear regarding their ideas or motives. Students and student organizations are free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately. Modes of expression will neither be controlled nor forbidden when they are neither disruptive nor in violation of applicable rules of conduct. Modes of expression or assembly that are noticeably unreasonable in terms of time, place or manner may be forbidden.
Students and student associations will always be free to support causes by orderly and peaceful assembly that do not infringe upon the rights of others. The involved students have the responsibility to clarify to the academic and larger community that they represent views of the students or student association and not the university.
Student groups are allowed to invite and to hear any person of their own choosing. Routine procedures required by the university before a guest speaker is invited to appear on campus shall be designed only to ensure orderly scheduling of facilities and adequate preparation for the event. Institutional control of campus facilities shall not be used as a device of censorship. It shall be made clear to the academic and larger community that sponsorship of guest speakers or events does not necessarily imply approval or endorsement of the views expressed.
Accordingly, defamation, public obscenity, certain incitements to crime, as well as other civil or criminal misconduct under laws applicable to a manner of speech or assembly directly damaging to the rights of others may be subject to institutional action as specified in the Student Code of Conduct, Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct Code Governance.
- Freedom of the Press
There will be no ideological censorship in the determination of printed or electronic expression on campus; access to publications is not to be denied because of disapproval of content. Regulation of student publications that operate on the same basis as other private enterprises are subject only to the same control as those respecting reasonableness of time, place and manner of distribution and those rules and regulations promulgated by UAFS.
- Privacy and Educational Records
To safeguard student privacy, student records are not to be available to unauthorized on-campus and off-campus personnel without the express consent of the student. Students have the right to inspect the official transcripts of their own academic records. They also have the right to inspect reports and evaluations of their conduct, except letters of recommendation and similar evaluations that are prepared on a confidential basis. (See the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, i.e., Buckley Amendment, for further details.) However, there are limited exceptions.
The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. A student (or in certain instances, the student’s parent) is entitled to request that the university not disclose the student’s directory information. However, as the university currently opts not to share directory information, such requests are generally not needed.
- Disclosure of the Outcome of Student Conduct Hearings to Victims or Others
When an alleged Student Code of Conduct violation would constitute a crime of violence (for example, battery, sexual assault), and the alleged violator is found responsible by the student conduct administrator or Student Conduct Board, the university shall disclose the outcome of the student conduct hearing and the sanction to the victim. When an alleged code violation would constitute a crime of violence, and the violator is found responsible, the university, again under applicable federal law, retains the right to disclose the name of the violator, the portion of the conduct code that was violated, and the sanctions, to anyone, which information may be re-disclosed. For a legal reference, see the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, §99.33, §99.31(a)(13), and 20 U.S.C. 1232g.
- Right of Privacy
Except in emergency circumstances, campus authorities will not enter premises occupied by students unless appropriate authorization has been obtained. Residence hall rooms may, however, be subjected to reasonable inspections by staff and resident advisors for order, life safety or cleanliness. Searches may also be conducted when there is reason to believe university regulations or state and federal laws are being violated. If a search is conducted in the residence halls by campus authorities (outside of searches conducted directly pursuant to law enforcement purposes), application for such search must be made to the vice chancellor for student affairs or their designee, who may issue authorization upon reasonable belief that the act being complained of has occurred or is occurring on the premises.
The application must specify the reasons for the search and the objects or information sought. The student should be present, if possible, during the search. If a search is conducted anywhere else on campus (for example, lockers, desks) authorization must be obtained from the vice chancellor for student affairs, their designee, or the chief of police.
- Equal Protection
The university has an obligation and shall apply its rules equally to all students who are similarly situated. This does not mean, however, that the university is required to refrain from taking action against some offenders because there are other offenders who cannot be identified or who are not presently being charged for some other valid reason. In the absence of evidence of illegal discriminatory enforcement, the university may properly take action against some offenders although it is clear that there are other offenders who are not before the student conduct system.
Nothing in this code shall be in derogation of the power of the chancellor, or of their duly authorized subordinates, to declare a state of emergency on university property, to suspend the procedural and substantive rights specified herein for the duration of the declared emergency. Any sanctions imposed on students violating the standards of conduct specified for the duration of the state of emergency, may be of summary process, if so provided by the chancellor of the university or of their duly authorized subordinates. Such sanctions imposed for violations of standards of conduct specified for a state of emergency, whether by normal process or by summary process, shall be for the duration of the emergency only. Any sanctions other than those imposed for the duration of emergency must be brought under the Student Code of Conduct, Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct Code System. Students are guaranteed all substantive and procedural rights specified herein in such proceedings. Emergency situations also may include cases in which students are asked to withdraw from the university for medical reasons.
Student Responsibilities for Copyrighted Materials
It is the policy of the University of Arkansas System and its institutions to follow the United States Copyright Law and other statutes that protect the rights of copyright owners. All UAFS faculty, staff, and students should use copyrighted materials within the confines of the statutes and seek guidance from the Office of the vice chancellor for finance in determining fair use. Copyrighted materials include, but are not limited to, computer software, audio and video recordings, photographs, and written material. Violators are subject to university discipline, including suspension as well as legal liability, even if the work did not contain a written copyright notice. It is also a violation to use a campus computer to illegally copy, display or distribute copyrighted materials such as software, MP3 files, or MPEG files.
Use of commercial (for-profit) copy shops may not relieve an individual of liability for infringement. It would depend on:
- Whether the copying was fair use
- Whether the copy shop pays royalties.
Online courses often contain copyrighted materials that the instructor is using under the TEACH Act of 2002. Students may use these materials within the online course, but may not save, alter, or redistribute them to those not enrolled in the course.
Student Responsibilities for Electronic Communications and Information Security
Appropriate use of the university’s electronic information system is the responsibility of all members of the university community, including students. It is the responsibility of each member of the university community to read and understand their responsibilities for proper use of electronic communications and information security. By accepting and using UAFS computer login codes and passwords, students are agreeing that they understand and will abide by the Acceptable Use of Technology Resources Policy and Information Security Procedures.