Handbook - Academic Due Process
The courts have mandated that students receive due process guarantees of notice and hearing in disciplinary cases, but students with grievances concerning academic affairs, such as situations involving erroneous advising, disputed grades, or alleged arbitrary course requirements, generally find themselves without due process guarantees. The courts, to this date, have not mandated legally what constitutes due process in academic affairs. Courts generally will respect the institution's procedures for handling academic affairs cases, as well as their decisions resolving these cases. As previously indicated, the courts will intervene in cases involving seemingly arbitrary or capricious treatment of a student. The voluntary application, however, of the spirit and principles of due process to academic affairs can reduce the incentives for legalism and reliance upon the courts by students when they feel aggrieved. With clearly defined grievance procedures in place, courts will decline to intervene until a student exhausts this administrative remedy. The following suggested procedures should not be construed as specific prescriptions to cover every case, but rather as a guideline:
- Institutions should define clearly and publish the responsibilities of advisors and students in the advisor-advisee relationship.
- Information the student is expected to know, such as academic requirements for continuance and graduation, should be clearly specified and publicized.
- A well-documented and orderly procedure of appeal should be established and promulgated. Viterbo University will utilize the academic Due Process procedure as outlined in the Catalog and Student Handbook to resolve such cases.
Two elements have combined to cause an increase in the number of academic affairs cases: arrival of consumerism to the campus and the lowered age of majority. Consumerism on campus today considers whether or not an institution delivers to the student the product it claims in its various publications, as well as in oral presentations. As legal adults, by virtue of the lowered age of majority, students must accept more responsibility for their actions on campus and thus also may have a great inclination to press charges against the institution when they believe they have received arbitrary of capricious treatment. This does not mean that all students might file a court suit when they reach the age of majority, but since they must accept the responsibilities of that status they will most likely be more zealous of their rights. With these prevailing conditions and the fact that quality advising is fast becoming a criterion for promotion and tenure, advisors should seek to understand the legal issues related to advising. This understanding will ensure a responsible attitude toward students and protect their rights as well as those of the advisor.