Altering the Student Code of Conduct to Protect Students/Staff from Hate Groups

November 2, 2017

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Radha Pyati, President Faculty Association

A UNF student has served in a public role as a Grand Dragon of the KKK, a known hate organization that devalues and actively threatens the lives of non-white non-Christian students on campus.

  1. Given free speech rights, what is the threshold at which his speech, writing, or behavior would trigger a student conduct code violation? What actions trigger expulsion?
  2. If the student code of conduct as written allows faculty and administrators no ability to refuse to teach this student, can the code of conduct be updated to deal with this problem?
  3. If the student behaves calmly in class, but serves in this position very publicly off campus, what recourse do faculty have to protect themselves and their students from him? How might the university ensure that faculty’s home addresses are not provided to these hate groups via a FOIA request?
  4. Among our diverse student body, we may have KKK members as well as known affiliates of ISIS. How would UNF treat a student who was a known affiliate of ISIS, in a practical sense? Are these same practical measures applied to members of the KKK and other such domestic hate groups?

Response from Karen Stone, Vice President and General Counsel:

Please see the ACLU primer on Speech on Campus linked below.  I realize that one of the question subparts ((3.))  asks about Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and faculty home addresses. Employee home addresses are public information unless the employee falls within a limited number of categories, such as current and past judges, prosecutors, police officers, etc.  But, we do not publish a directory of this information. Instead, someone would need to make a public records request for the information.

ACLU Speech on Campus link

 

 

Student Grade Petition

October 13, 2016

Questioner: Pali Sen

Posed to: Provost Earle Traynham, Academic Affairs and Megan Kuehner, Registrar, Registrar’s Office

A question on a student’s petition of a grade of a F to a W in the faculty association meeting on September 1, missed the intended mark. I know students can petition any grade, I am asking about the outcome of it. If a student uses a Waiver of University Policy form to change a final grade in a course to a W, and the faculty assigning the grade denies the request, then it can be granted by a chair or a dean or ultimately, the Provost. I believe this violates the collective bargaining agreement. The process for assigning a W after a final grade has been assigned, needs a clarification so that faculty know the answer to an important issue.

 

Response from Provost Earle Traynham, Academic Affairs: 

Article 10.2 (a)(2) explains the grade appeal process, and makes clear that neither the department chair nor the dean has the authority to change a grade that has been assigned by the faculty member . If the student appeals to the provost, the appeal is heard by the University Appeals Committee, which then makes a recommendation to the provost. Through this process, the provost does have the authority to change the grade.

This process covers the vast majority of cases involving a dispute over an assigned grade. The student has 90 days to file an appeal. Although rare, there have been cases in which a student requests a change in a grade of F to a W after more than 90 days, sometimes after several years. I am aware of two instances in which this has occurred. In these cases, our office contacted the faculty member notifying them that the student had submitted a Waiver of University Policy for a grade change from F to W. We indicated that if the faculty member could verify that the student never attended class we would consider the appeal. In both instances, the faculty member was able to determine that the student had not attended class and had not taken any exams. The grade was the n changed to a W.

Please let me know if there are any questions.

Response from Megan Kuehner, Registrar, Registrar’s Office:

Good afternoon – I would like to send the attached response to the question posed by Dr. Sen. I know
it was directed to and answered by Dr. Traynham but, given my office’s role in the process I want to provide additional feedback.

Students at the University of North Florida currently have several withdrawal options. Withdrawals for extenuating circumstances typically include the withdrawal for military service (WS), medical withdrawals (WM), and withdrawals with a fee refund (WR). Each of these options has its own governing policy and approval process. In the case of the WM and WR, those processes exist outside of Academic Affairs.

A request for a traditional withdrawal after grades have posted would initiate with the student and would be submitted via the online Student Petition of Academic Policy. All students are required to upload documentation to support the request and the requirement is enforced by a systematic hold that prevents submission until documents are uploaded. The appeal is submitted for review by the advisor, instructor, chair and Registrar’s Office/Graduate Dean.

Students can appeal to withdraw for a variety of reasons. Most often the student will state that he or she did not attend the course and therefore did not earn the failing grade. These are usually students who left UNF without officially dropping courses. In these cases the instructor typically verifies the student’s statement and approves the withdrawal. In cases where the student has attended and still wishes to pursue a withdrawal, the instructor, advisor and chair would make the best decision based on the student’s supporting documentation. The online process does not prevent any reviewer from discussing the appeal with another reviewer and it is our understanding that a dialogue frequently occurs between each party. Additionally, each reviewer can enter notes for final review by the appeals committee. The committee is comprised of members from offices with Enrollment Services and academic advising. The committee reviews the same documentation, the advising history and most importantly, the feedback of each reviewer.

Appeals are not automatically funneled to the provost for additional review. Any undergraduate student who wishes to appeal the final decision is referred to the dean of Undergraduate Studies and graduate students are referred back to the Graduate School. The situations that typically escalate are those where the student was denied the request and those denials are in support of the faculty and chair.

The committee makes an effort to openly communicate with instructors and chairs to clarify any questions prior to review, which can include verifying the accuracy of a student’s stated timeline, reviewing the syllabus and/or confirming communication outside of class. This is done to ensure all parties are accurately represented and have a voice in the process. Very seldom have we encountered a situation where there is disagreement between and chair and instructor. In those cases, we notify each party and seek a solution.

It is important to note that there are two related processes that are sometimes confused with the Student Petition of Academic Policy. First is the punitive F grade or FA. This grade is assigned when a student has violated the Academic Misconduct Policy and it is a final assignment that cannot be withdrawn by the student. Students do have the right to appeal and that process is outlined in the policy with the absolute final decision rendered by the president if necessary.  The second process is the grade appeal process outlined in the Appealing Academic Grades policy. Students in this separate, but related, case have the right to appeal any grade. Please note that this policy states, “Neither the Chair nor Dean may override the instructor’s decision and issue a change of grade without the faculty member’s concurrence.”

Preferred Name Policy for Students

October 13, 2016

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Megan Kuehner, Registrar, Registrar’s Office

On 9/22 we received an email from the registrar informing us that a policy is under development regarding preferred name use. I already find it challenging to learn the names of 100+ students each semester. Is there much of a need for this new policy, or are we furthering students’ sense of entitlement?

Response: 

The preferred name policy is designed to make it easier for faculty members to use the appropriate name for students. That means faculty members will have to learn only one name for the student (the designated preferred name) instead of two (the student’s preferred name and their legal name).The preferred name will appear on the roster instead of the legal name. One instance where preferred name is helpful is in the case of a transgender student who has not yet legally changed their name. The policy will ensure that faculty members are confident that they are addressing a transgender student by the appropriate name. The use of preferred name is also relevant to those staff and faculty members who choose to use a more “Americanized” name for social purposes or the name under which a faculty member publishes. In fact the use of the Preferred Name field in Banner is currently utilized by over 200 employees.

The intent of the proposed policy is to formalize the process and provide the parameters for use of a preferred name and to create an environment that is both safe and efficient for all involved. Many of our transgender students who are transitioning from one sex to another (male-to-female or female-to-male) have not yet legally changed their name. That means someone who looks female may have a legal name that is male (or vice versa). Using the incorrect name could “out” the person as transgender to their classmates and violate their privacy. However, we do realize the practicalities of managing more than one name and the importance of accurately recording academic progress. For these reasons we have drafted the policy with controls on how and when a preferred name can be used. The same thought was given to staff and faculty updates.

This new policy has been proposed because the university has a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the campus community. Moreover, we have an obligation to see that the policy is fully vetted by all stakeholders. I encourage you, and any interested party, to fully review and respond when the policy is sent for comment.

I hope you understand and support us in this endeavor. I realize that any change can bring additional responsibilities but, as you well know, we are here to educate students both in and out of the classroom. Fostering tolerance and acceptance of all is fundamental in the development of our students and creating a welcoming campus that embraces the challenge of change is a time honored tradition in higher education.

Interpreting Program

September 1, 2016

Questioner: Laura Jackson

Posed to: Earle Traynham, Provost & Vice President, Academic Affairs

The Interpreting program requires that students only take 12 hours per semester. How will the 15 credit hour rule affect students in this program?

Provost Earle Traynham provided a response from the floor:

Those programs that allow students to take no more than 12 credit hours per semester would be exempt from the 15 credit hour rule to maintain scholarships. The 15 credit hour rule actually states that students must complete 30 credit hours per year; therefore, if a student does not complete 15 credit hours within one semester, the additional hours could be taken in another semester or during the summer term to satisfy the 30 credit hours per year requirement.

Student Grade Petition from “F” to “W”

September 1, 2016

Questioner: Pali Sen

Posed to: Provost Earle Traynham, Academic Affairs

Once a grade is posted, can a student petition the grade after it is posted, for example to change an “F” grade after the final exam to make the grade a “W.”

Provost Earle Traynham provided a response from the floor:

Students are able to petition grades. The process involves review and recommendations by the faculty member, Department Chair, the College Dean, the University Appeals Committee, and the Provost. At each stage, recommendations regarding the grade change is determined and communicated to the student.

* Also Answered here

15 Credit Requirement for Scholarship Recipients

September 1, 2016

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: John Delaney, President, University of North Florida

Why was the decision to require UNF scholarship recipients to take 15 credits per semester made, seemingly, without faculty input? This decision seems like it will have many negative consequences such as: students attending other universities instead of UNF, students taking heavier course loads than they can handle well, especially if 4 credit courses or labs are involved.

Response: 

The decision to require students to complete 15 hours in fall and spring terms, or 30 hours over fall, spring and summer is based on different pieces of data.

The first of these was watching the effects a similar program had at the University of South Florida. When South Florida’s graduation rates took a dramatic increase a few years ago we began to explore how they accomplished this. In speaking to various representatives from USF, each of them emphasized a cultural shift on the campus – 15 credit hours per term became the new norm. USF advisors were recommending 15 hours per term for students across the campus, with some exceptions. Students were becoming committed to graduating in four years.

After exploring the change at USF, Jay Coleman compared second-year retention rates for UNF students who took 15 hours their first semester compared to those who took 12 hours in their first term. He determined that those taking 15 hours showed higher second year retention rates.

The third set of data we considered were the additional expenses added and the income lost to the student by slowing down degree completion.

In making the change we mandated it for students receiving institutional grants and scholarships. At the same time, we provided a review process for exceptions.

As to the question of faculty input, since coming to UNF I was never made aware that faculty input was required in establishing criteria for student scholarships. Over the past few years we have worked closely with Enrollment Services to grow and reframe scholarships to meet with the mission of the university, taking into consideration how much money was likely to attract students and provide them with the support they needed to succeed at UNF.

When we made this most recent changes to our scholarship programs we worked closely with academic programs where students would be unable to comply with the requirements we set forth. It is also important to remember that these rules don’t affect any scholarship programs funded by other sources.

It is our hope, however, to see as many students enrolled in 15 hour per term or 30 hours per year, when possible. Making 15 the norm is likely to have several positive effects on our students and the nature and reputation of the institution. It may also affect future university funding.

Respectfully,
John A. Delaney

Success Rate

Questioner: Pali Sen

Posted to: Jeffrey Coker, Undergraduate Dean Office of the Undergraduate Studies

Currently the success rate of a class is calculated as the number of students who passed it with C or higher after the add/drop date.  The calculation includes the students who withdrew from the class within the University approved withdrawal deadlines.  Why should students who withdraw from a class because they were unprepared for the class, they changed jobs, they changed majors, etc. be part of a calculation that measures student success?  Since students are permitted to withdraw from classes why should their decision to do so be viewed as a lack of success on their part?

 

Written Response from Dr. Jeffrey Coker, Undergraduate Dean, Office of the Undergraduate Studies:


Sent: 
Monday, February 27, 2012 8:30 PM

From: Coker, Jeffrey W

To: Faculty Association

Cc: Plumlee, Patrick

Subject: RE: Reminder: FA question from November 3rd

 

Cindy,

 

My apologies for the lag in responding to this question. I was waiting to find out some addition information with respect to the background of one part of the question. The response to the question is below. Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

Thanks,

Jeff

 

UNF will continue to calculate pass rates for general education courses as they are calculated with all other courses: a grade of D or higher is considered passing. While a grade of C is required to satisfy particular core requirements, the university grants credit for grades of D or higher in all coursework. Therefore, a D is not considered a failing grade from the standpoint of the university, even though it indeed may not meet the general education requirement for graduation.

 

As for Withdrawals and the pass rate: The Faculty Association, in 1984, voted for the current WP/WF policy. The policy was reviewed in 2000, and the FA voted in affirmation of the policy and to count a WF as a failing grade. Certainly, interventions to improve the rate of withdrawals, both prior to enrollment and during a course, are worthy of consideration. The excellent work taking place in the Math Department in providing enhanced academic support for students in challenging gateway courses is to be applauded and indeed will contribute to improved performance.

Course Passing Rate

Questioner: Pali Sen

Posted to: Mark Workman, Provost & Vice President Academic Affairs

Currently the passing rate for a course is calculated based on the number of students who get a C or above out of the total number of students remaining in the class after the add/drop date.  The calculation includes the students who have withdrawn from the class within the University approved withdrawal deadlines.  Is this practice justified?  Students who withdraw appear to be unprepared and why should they be therefore counted at the end of the class?  Can a department opt out from the withdrawal option for its classes?

 

Written Response from Jeff Coker, Dean for the Office of Undergraduate Studies:


From: 
Coker, Jeffrey W

Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 8:48 AM

To: Bush, Melissa; Sen, Pali

Cc: Workman, Mark; Jaffee, Marianne; Kuehner, Megan

Subject: FA Question from Dr. Sen

Good morning,

I am writing on behalf of Provost Workman in response to Dr. Pali Sen’s question from the October 6 Faculty Association meeting.  Please include this response in your Q&A section of the Faculty Association website.

 

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns.

 

Regards,

Jeff Coker

Dean, Undergraduate Studies

Response

Normal withdrawals are not counted as part of the pass rate for a particular course.  However, a withdrawal that has an impact on a student’s GPA–“WF” or “FA” (punitive F)-is included in calculation of course pass rate.  The reasoning is that an instructor who records a grade of WF for a student has indicated, at the time of late withdrawal that the student indeed was failing the course.
As such, this should be counted as part of overall course performance.  As grading policy is established by the university, departments may not opt out.  Also, please note that pass rates are calculated as “D” or above” rather than C or higher.