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Georgia Highlands College

Intellectual Diversity Policy

Approved by the faculty, 5-06-08

Academic freedom, for both faculty members and students, is central to the mission and goals of higher education.† According to the AAUP: "institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition" (1940†Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure).†

With this in mind, free exposition in the classroom should be in pursuit of learning and not to impose any particular political or religious viewpoint on students.†† At GHC, members of the Faculty are free to explore controversial topics, and/or express, inside or outside the classroom, their opinion on any matter that falls within the fields of knowledge which they are employed to teach and to study, subject only to those restrictions that are imposed by high professional ethics, fair mindedness, common sense, accurate expressions, and generous respect for the rights, feelings, and opinions of others.† Faculty members should be careful in their teaching to deal adequately with the course matter as described in the college catalog and to maintain respect for varying opinions on controversial matters.† They should emphasize the fact that any opinions expressed are personal and not institutional, and should avoid intrusive expression of irrelevant material.† In no case should student grades be based on agreement with the instructor on matters of opinion, political views, or religion.

Faculty members should maintain a reputation for scholarship through publication, research, and study and are entitled to full freedom in research and in publication.† Research, publication, and study should result in improved teaching.

Faculty members, acting individually or in concert with others, who clearly obstruct or disrupt, or attempt to obstruct or disrupt any teaching, research, administrative, disciplinary activity, public service activity, or other activity authorized to be discharged or held on campus will have committed an act of gross irresponsibility and shall be subject to disciplinary procedures, possibly resulting in dismissal or termination of employment.

Disputations concerning violations of a faculty memberís academic freedom may be appealed to the Grievance Committee, according to the Georgia Highlands College statutes. Grievance procedures are found at the following site: http://www.highlands.edu/site/policy-and-procedure-manual-section-3-x.

Students, as well, should be encouraged to explore controversial topics and express their opinions within the guidelines set above.† Students have a responsibility to be respectful of the expression of opinions divergent from their own, and in no case should they express intimidating or threatening language or behavior towards other students or instructors who do so.

Should a student believe that an instructor has violated his/her rights in relation to academic freedom, the student may follow college procedures to address the issue.

The student may institute a formal complaint under the following circumstances:

  • The student believes that he/she was penalized in terms of grading due to a variance of opinion from an instructor.
  • The student believes that he/she was placed at a disadvantage in the class due to his or her disagreement from the instructor on matters of opinion.

Prior to the filing of a formal written grievance, a student has the right to engage in informal discourse or negotiation privately with the faculty member or the academic dean of the faculty member. If this avenue has been exhausted without providing a satisfactory conclusion, and the student desires to file a formal grievance against a faculty member, the following course of action should be taken:†

  1. The student will request a conference with the academic dean of the faculty member OR any other academic dean OR the studentís campus dean OR the Vice President for Academic Affairs, at which the student will present a statement in writing outlining the complaint, and providing evidence of violation of their academic rights.† Substantiating data and examples illustrating the problem should be presented in writing by the student.
  2. The dean should inform the student of receipt of the request within five working days. The conference itself should be held within fifteen working days of receipt of the written request from the student.
  3. If either party is not satisfied with the results of the conference, either party may appeal in writing to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), who will meet with the student and the faculty member together and attempt to resolve the problem. All documentation should be forwarded to VPAA. The VPAA should inform the student of receipt of the request of the appeal within five working days. The conference itself should be held within fifteen working days of receipt of the written request from the student.
  4. If mutual satisfaction is not reached following this conference, either partymay appeal in writing to the President of the college, whose decision will be final. All documentation should be forwarded to the President.
Page last updated: September 4, 2013