Fort Valley State University provides an intellectually diverse learning and living environment that enables students and all who come under its influence to become innovative and critical thinkers, problem solvers, and responsible citizens. Believing, as stated by the American Council of Education that “intellectual pluralism and academic freedom are central principles of American higher education,” the university supports the rights of faculty to academic freedom as set forth by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the principles of intellectual diversity as set forth in “Academic Rights and Responsibilities, a statement issued by the American Council on Education on behalf of 30 higher education organizations”. In the learning and living environment at Fort Valley State University, the rights and responsibilities of teachers, as well as the rights and responsibilities of students, are upheld and protected.
Fort Valley State University subscribes to the Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure as set forth in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure formulated by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the American Association of University Professors.
Based on the tenets of Academic Freedom (as excerpted from the 1940 Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure):
- Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.
- College or university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence, they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.
In classrooms and in all academic and related venues, students and teachers are encouraged to engage in the discussion and free exchange of ideas in an environment that is free of retribution or disadvantage to either. To this end, the following expectations and responsibilities are set forth for teachers in all academic venues:
- Teachers will not use their classes as vehicles to propagate their personal views or to indoctrinate students.
- Teachers will have a mastery of their subject matter and provide an environment in which students are exposed to a variety of ideological, social, political, and other perspectives related to the subject.
- Teachers will permit students to challenge prevailing dissident ideologies, thoughts, and beliefs that are relevant to the subject under discussion. The expression and discussion of divergent points of view will occur in an environment of civility and mutual respect.
- At the beginning of each semester, teachers will provide students with the policies, procedures, and methods of evaluation of their oral, written, and other work used to determine their final grades. Grading policies will reflect that students’ grades are not adversely affected because of their expressions of different perspectives.
- All course syllabi will include a statement of the university’s policies with regard to intellectual diversity and will provide instructions for filing grievances when the policies are abridged.
- Evaluations of teachers by students will include items to assess intellectual diversity in the classroom.
- When/if teachers determine that the university is not honoring its commitment to intellectual diversity, they are obligated to report such to the university’s intellectual diversity ombudsman, the Director of Human Resources.
In an environment that is free of intimidation or other disadvantage, students have the right to learn and inquire, including opportunities to express opinions, ideas, and/or ideologies that may be different from those of the teacher. At all times, students are expected to comport themselves in an orderly and respectful manner. To this end, the following specific rights exist for students:
- It is the right of every student to know, at the beginning of each semester, all of the policies and procedures that will be used to determine his/her grade.
- Students have the right to expect that teachers will demonstrate a mastery of their subject and that teachers will be open to discussions of varying points of view, perspectives, and/or ideologies in a civil and collegial environment.
- Students have the right to classes that are not used by teachers to propagate their personal views or to indoctrinate students.
- When students believe their rights have been violated, they have the right to seek redress following established and published procedures that are available to all members of the university family. The goal of the university is to resolve conflicts at the lowest level. Students who believe that their academic rights have been violated should first seek redress via discussion with the offending party. If the offender is the teacher, the student should first discuss his/her discontent with the teacher, followed by the department chair, the dean, and the Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Should satisfactory redress still not be achieved, the student should contact the Director of Human Resources to seek mediation or to file a formal complaint.
- When/if students determine that the university is not honoring its commitment to intellectual diversity, they are obligated to report such to the university’s intellectual diversity ombudsman, the Director of Human Resources.
Fort Valley State University accepts its responsibility to ensure intellectual diversity beyond the classroom. To this end, the university commits to the following:
- The award of federal financial aid funds and institutional scholarships will be made in accord with guidelines that prohibit discrimination of the basis of race, creed, color, religious, political or ideological considerations.
- University-sponsored academic and extra-curricular activities, such as the selection of speakers or other forums, will reflect a diversity of ideologies and will not be subject to inappropriate censorship by any faculty, staff member, or administrator. Yet, expressions of divergent ideologies will not be used as a means to incite disruptive behavior.
- In accordance with university and journalistic policies and guidelines, Fort Valley State University will protect the rights of students that are inherent in the concept of “freedom of the press.”
- The goal of intellectual diversity will be included in all university policies an publications to include:
- Mission statement.
- University catalogs.
- Faculty handbook (especially promotion, tenure, and performance evaluation policies).
- Student handbook.
- Publications distributed by the Office of Human Resources (hiring and employment policies and practices).
- University website.
- Staff Handbook.
- The Dispute Resolution Policy will be posted on the university’s website and included in the student handbook, the faculty handbook, and university catalogs.
- Sessions on intellectual diversity, including procedures for filing grievances, will be included in orientation sessions for students and faculty.
- Annual surveys will be conducted to assess perceptions of intellectual diversity.
- The Director of Human Resources will be charged to serve as the university’s intellectual diversity ombudsman.