Widener University is a corporation, chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Delaware, with authority vested in its Board of Trustees. Appropriate authority, then, is specifically delegated by the board to the president of Widener University, and through the president to other members of the administration and faculty and to individuals and groups throughout the institution. The following policies and procedures articulate specific rights or privileges the university grants students and the expectations it has for them.
The Office of Student Affairs will handle reports of violations of the Widener Compact directly by settlement or by referral to the appropriate hearing boards or administrator. At the discretion of the associate provost and dean of students, parents of students will be notified of disciplinary action or potential problems. Officers and faculty advisors should note that the Office of Student Affairs may withdraw university recognition from student groups or organizations for just cause.
The Right and Freedom to Learn
Widener University is a comprehensive teaching institution. As members of our academic community, our students are encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in sustained and independent study. Free inquiry and free expression in an environment of individual and group responsibility are essential to any community of scholars. The following guidelines have been developed to preserve and protect that community.
1. IN THE CLASSROOM
- Students are responsible for thoroughly learning the content of any course of study, but they should be free to take reasonable exception to the data or items offered, and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion. Therefore, students should be evaluated by their professors solely on the basis of their academic performance.
- Widener University is prepared to protect a student through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation by a faculty member.
- Protection against improper disclosure of information concerning a student is a serious professional obligation of faculty members and administrative staff that must be balanced with their other obligations to the individual student, the university, and society.
2. OUT OF THE CLASSROOM
- Campus organizations, including those affiliated with an extramural organization, must be open to all students without regard to sex, age, race, nationality or origin or ethnicity, religion, disability, status as a veteran of the Vietnam era or other covered veteran, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
- Widener students and university-sponsored or universityrecognized organizations are free to examine and discuss any issue and to express opinions, publicly or privately, and are free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operations of the university. Any such expression must comply with university guidelines governing free expression activities. The participation by any student in any unlawful or disruptive activity that fails to comply with university guidelines or disrupts or interferes with the programs, functions, or conduct of the university is a serious offense punishable by suspension or expulsion.
- The student press is free of censorship, and its editors and managers are free to develop their own editorial policies and news coverage; however, Widener expects accurate reporting, correct writing, and good judgments in matters of taste.
- As constituents of the academic community, students are free to express their views on institutional policy and on matters of general interest to the student body, provided they do so in a manner that is lawful and organized and complies with university guidelines regulating free expressive activities. For this purpose, students elect representatives to the Student Government Association. There is also the Student Services Committee, chaired by a member of the faculty, on which student members sit.
Additional Student Rights and Responsibilities
The policies and procedures contained in this catalog are premised on several basic rights for all members of the Widener community. In addition to the rights articulated in the “The Right and Freedom to Learn” section, students have the following additional basic rights and responsibilities:
- The Right to Safety and Security—In order to assist Campus Safety and to promote security on campus, individuals must assume responsibilities for their own safety and security and for those of others. Students share this responsibility by carefully following all university and community rules and regulations.
- The Right to a Clean Environment—All members of the Widener community share the responsibility for maintaining a clean environment.
- The Right to Communal Property—For the general welfare of the university, all students have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care in the use of personal or university property.
- The Right to an Environment Suitable for Study and for Community Living—Academic study requires a reasonably quiet environment. Community living requires that all members of the Widener community respect one another and each person’s property and share a responsibility for maintaining a clean and safe environment.
Annual Notice to Students Regarding Education Records
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records. (An “eligible student” under FERPA is a student who is 18 years of age or older or who attends a postsecondary institution.) These rights include:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days after the day the university receives a request for access. A student should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes 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.
- The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
A student who wishes to ask the university to amend a record should write the university official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed.
If the university decides not to amend the record as requested, the university will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s 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 provide written consent before the university discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
The university discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to university officials with legitimate educational interests. A university official is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including, without limitation, law enforcement unit personnel, health staff, athletic coaches and trainers, and admissions counselors and recruiters); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. A university official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of the university who performs an institutional service or function for which the university would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the university with respect to the use and maintenance of PII from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, contractor, consultant, or collection agent, or a student volunteering to assist another university official in performing his or her tasks. A university official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the university.
Upon request, the university also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. Such education records may include updated or corrected information, including, without limitation, disciplinary and health records.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the university 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
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
- The right to withhold public disclosure of any or all items of “directory information” by written notification to the Registrar’s Office of the University, the Delaware Law School or the Commonwealth Law School, as applicable, within two (2) weeks after the commencement of the fall or spring semesters of any given academic year. Under current University policy, the term “directory information” includes, without limitation, a student’s name, home and campus address, telephone listing(s), electronic mail address, photograph, major field of study, grade level, enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time); dates of attendance, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees, honors, and awards received, and the most recent educational agency or institution attended.