Handbook - Legal Issues and Academic Advising
The academic advisor is on the "front line" at Viterbo in dealing with students. It is a critical position, and the success or failure of the student's education and growth is influenced greatly by the advising function. In today's litigious atmosphere, the advising function is more critical than ever.
Academic advising occurs under the umbrella of academic affairs. The courts have always hesitated to enter the academic arena and substitute their judgment for that of the academician. In doing so, they have recognized the academic freedom which protects academic decisions, including advising decisions. They have recognized also that their repeated presence in the academic community possibly could cause deterioration in the otherwise beneficial student faculty relationship. Thus, if academicians do not abuse their discretion in dealing with students, they need not fear judicial intervention. The courts will intervene, however, if evidence exists of arbitrary or negligent treatment of student or a denial of their protected rights. The increasing number of court decisions dealing with classroom and academic matters attests to the growing judicial sensitivity to students' rights in academic affairs. That advisor's job falls within this academic affairs area, and, thus, advisors must understand the legal issues involving four major areas: the contractual relationship between student and institution, guidelines governing privacy of student records, the concept of privileged communications, and academic due process and the need for grievance procedures.