Student Rights and Responsibilities


Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment, and to engage in sustained and independent search for truth. Institutional procedures for achieving these purposes may vary from campus to campus, but the minimal standard of academic freedom of students outlined below are essential to any community of scholars. 

Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, on the campus, and in the larger community. Students should exercise their freedom with responsibility. 

The responsibility to secure and to respect general conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the academic community. Each college and university has a duty to develop policies and procedures which provide and safeguard this freedom. Such policies and procedures should be developed at each institution within the framework and general standards, and with the broadest possible participation of the members of the academic community. The purpose of this statement is to enumerate the essential provision for students’ freedom to learn.

Section I – Freedom of Access to Higher Education

Parkland College is an open-door institution that within the limits of its facilities and subject to prevailing admissions policy, is open to all students. The facilities and services of the college are open to all of its enrolled students.

Section II – Civility

Our College Core Values of Fair and Just Treatment serve as guideposts for civility. Parkland College is committed to campus-wide civility by cultivating a community where the faculty, staff, and students:

    • Respect people and property
    • Show empathy tolerance
    • Demonstrate concern for and fairness toward others
    • Employ critical thinking and patience
    • Accept accountability for their own actions
Section III – In the Classroom

The instructor in the classroom and in conference shall encourage free discussion, inquiry, and expression. Student performance is evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.

a. Protection of freedom of expression

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.

b. Protection against improper academic evaluation

Students are protected through orderly procedures against prejudice or capricious academic evaluation. At the same time, they are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled.

c. Protection against improper disclosure

Information about student views, beliefs and political associations that instructors acquire in the course of their work as instructors, advisors, and counselors is considered confidential. Judgments of ability and character may be provided under appropriate circumstances, normally with the knowledge or consent of the student.

Section IV – Student Records and Privacy

1. Parkland has a written policy as to the information which should be part of a student’s permanent educational record, and as to the conditions of its disclosure. To minimize the risk of improper disclosure, academic and disciplinary records are separate, and the conditions of access to each are set forth in an explicit policy statement. No records are kept which reflect the political activities or beliefs of the students. Provisions are also made for periodic routine destruction of noncurrent disciplinary records. Administrative staff and faculty members shall respect confidential information about students that they acquire in the course of their work.

2. A student’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or transgender/gender non-conforming status is the student’s private information.It is the student’s choice whether to discuss these private matters openly, keep this information private, or a combination of both.No college employee may disclose any information that might reasonably indicate the student’s identity or status without the student’s express consent to do so.

3. A transgender/gender non-conforming student should be addressed by the name and pronouns of their choice in most all communications*, verbal and written. A court-ordered name change or physical gender change is not required in these circumstances.(*Exempted from this expectation are correspondences that the college must use legal name for such as, but not limited to, financial aid documents, tax document, and transcripts)

    Section V – Student Affairs

    The following standards will be maintained:

    a. Freedom of association

    Students are free to organize and join associations to promote their common interests,

    1. The membership, policies, and actions of a student organization are determined by vote only of those persons who are bona fide Parkland students.
    2. Affiliation with an extramural organization does not itself disqualify a student organization from institutional recognition.
    3. Each organization is free to choose its own advisor, and institutional recognition will not be withheld or withdrawn solely because of the inability to of a student organization to secure an advisor. Campus advisors may advise organizations in the exercise of responsibility, but they do not have the authority to control the policy of such organizations.
    4. Student organizations may be required to submit a statement of purpose, criteria for membership, rules of procedures, and a current list of officers. They are not required to submit a membership list as a condition of institutional recognition.
    5. Campus organizations, including those affiliated with an extramural organization, are open to all students without respect to race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, color, age, marital status, veteran status, veteran era, Vietnam veteran era, ancestry, or national origin.

      b. Freedom of inquiry and expression

      1. Students and student organizations are free to examine and to discuss all questions of interests to them, and to express opinions publicly and privately. They are free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the institution. At the same time, it should be made clear to the academic and larger community that in their public expressions or demonstrations, students or student organizations speak only for themselves.
      2. Students are allowed to invite and to hear any person of their own choosing. The routine procedure required by Parkland before a guest speaker is invited to appear on campus are designed only to ensure that there is orderly scheduling of facilities and adequate preparation for the event, and that the occasion is conducted in a manner appropriate to an academic community. It should be emphasized to the academic and larger community that sponsorship of guest speakers does not necessarily imply approval or endorsement of the views expressed, either by the sponsoring group or the institution.
      3. All students, including transgender/gender non-conforming students, should feel comfortable dressing in any manner that they wish, especially with regard to dressing in a manner consistent with their gender-related identity, as long as this dress does not violate Parkland’s prohibition on disorderly, lewd, or indecent conduct.

      c. Student participation in institutional government

      As constituents of the academic community, students are free, individually and collectively, to express their views on issues of institutional policy, and on matters of general interest to the student body. The student body has clearly defined means to participate in the formulation and application of institutional policy affecting academic and student affairs. The role of the Student Government and both its general and specific responsibilities are explicitly stated in the Parkland College Student Association Constitution.

      d. Student publications

      Student publications and the student press are valuable aids in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion, and of intellectual exploration on the campus. They are a means of bring student concerns to the attention of faculty and the institutional authorities, and of formulating student opinion on various issues on the campus and in the world at large.

      The development and interpretation of student publication policies are the responsibility of a Publications Board composed of an equal number of students and faculty.

      Section VI – Off-Campus freedom of Students

      a. Exercise of rights of citizenship

      Parkland students are both citizens and members of the academic community. As citizens, students enjoy the same freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, and right of petition that other citizens enjoy, and as members of the academic community, they are subject to obligations which accrue to them by virtue of this membership. Institutional powers are not employed to inhibit such intellectual and personal development of students as is often promoted by their exercise of the rights of citizenship both on and off campus.

      b. Institutional authority and civil penalties

      Activities if students may upon occasion result in violation of law. Students who violate the law may incur penalties prescribed by civil authorities, but institutional authority should never be used merely to duplicate the function of general laws. Only where the institution’s interests as an academic community are distinct and clearly involved should the special authority of the institution be asserted. The student who incidentally violates institutional regulations in the course of his or her off-campus activity, such as those relating to class attendance, will be subject to no greater penalty than would normally be imposed. Institutional action is dependent of community pressure.

      Section VII - Parkland College Student Conduct Code

      Please see the Parkland College Student Conduct Code for more information.