Michigan State University is a community of scholars whose members include its faculty, staff, students¹, and administrators. The basic purposes of the University are the advancement, dissemination, and application of knowledge. The most basic condition for the achievement of these purposes is freedom of expression and communication. Without this freedom, effective sifting and testing of ideas cease, and research, teaching, and learning are stifled. Knowledge is as broad and diverse as life itself, and the need for freedom is equally broad. Yet absolute freedom in all aspects of life means anarchy, just as absolute order means tyranny. Both anarchy and tyranny are antithetical to the purposes and character of the University. Therefore, the University always must strive to strike that balance between maximum freedom and necessary order which best promotes its basic purposes by providing the environment most conducive to the many faceted activities of instruction, research, and service.
Each right of an individual places a reciprocal duty upon others: the duty to permit the individual to exercise the right. The student, as a member of the academic community, has both rights and duties. Within that community, the student’s most essential right is the right to learn. The University has a duty to provide for the student those privileges, opportunities, and protections which best promote the learning process in all its aspects. The student also has duties to other members of the academic community, the most important of which is to refrain from interference with those rights of others which are equally essential to the purposes and processes of the University.
The University cherishes many values, modes of thought, and standards of behavior that are better taught by example and rewards than by the threat of penalties. Regulations governing the activities and conduct of student groups and individual students should not be comprehensive codes of desirable conduct; rather, they should be limited to the prescription of procedures for meeting the practical, routine necessities of a complex community and to the prohibition or limitation of acts which cannot be tolerated because they seriously interfere with the basic purposes, necessities, and processes of the academic community, or with rights essential to other members of the community.
The student is not only a member of the academic community, but a citizen of the larger society, who retains those rights, protections, and guarantees of fair treatment held by all citizens, and which the University may not deny. The enforcement of the student’s duties to the larger society is, however, the responsibility of the legal and judicial authorities duly established for that purpose.
To protect student rights and to facilitate the definition of student responsibilities at Michigan State University, the following guidelines shall apply to those stipulations and conditions by which student conduct is regulated, broadly referred to as “regulations” in the remainder of this Article.
A. All regulations shall seek the best possible reconciliation of the principles of maximum freedom and necessary order.
B. There shall be no regulation unless there is a demonstrable need which is reasonably related to the basic purposes and necessities of the University as stipulated herein.
C. To the maximum extent feasible, students shall participate in formulating and revising regulations governing student conduct.
D. All regulations governing student conduct shall be made public in an appropriate manner.
E. Every regulation shall be as brief, clear, and specific as possible.
F. Wherever rights conflict, regulations shall, to the maximum extent feasible, permit reasonable scope for each conflicting right by defining the circumstances of time, place, and means appropriate to its exercise.
G. Regulations shall respect the free expression of ideas and shall encourage the competition of ideas from diverse perspectives.
H. Procedures and penalties for the violation of regulations shall be primarily designed for guidance or correction of behavior.
I. Penalties shall be commensurate with the seriousness of the offense. Repeated violations may justify increasingly severe penalties.
J. There shall be clearly defined channels and procedures for the appeal and review of:
1. The finding of guilt in an alleged violation of a regulation.
2. The reasonableness, under the circumstances, of the penalty imposed for a specific violation.
3. The substance of a regulation or administrative decision which is alleged to be inconsistent with the guidelines in this document.
4. The fairness of the procedures followed in the adjudication.
K. Students accused of violating a regulation or University policy shall have the right to appear before a duly constituted hearing board as provided in this document. No student shall be suspended or dismissed from the University for disciplinary reasons, except through the procedures of this document or the applicable sections of the Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities document or the Medical Student Rights and Responsibilities document.
L. Every regulation shall specify to whom it applies and whether responsibility for compliance lies with individuals, with groups, or with both.
M. Student Handbook and Resource Guide: A handbook of the University’s current regulations relating to student rights and responsibilities shall be made available to every member of the academic community (see Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide).
¹ For the purposes of this document, an individual is considered a student from the time he or she attends his/her first class until graduation, recess, dismissal, suspension, or withdrawal from the University or until he/she fails to register for more than one consecutive term.