Dean of the Faculty: Faculty Handbook

Academic Regulations

1. Statement of Intellectual Responsibility (Voted by the Faculty 1966; amended April 1987)

Every person's education is the product of his or her intellectual effort and participation in a process of critical exchange. Amherst cannot educate those who are unwilling to submit their own work and ideas to critical assessment. Nor can it tolerate those who interfere with the participation of others in the critical process. Therefore, the College considers it a violation of the requirements of intellectual responsibility to submit work that is not one's own or otherwise to subvert the conditions under which academic work is performed by oneself or by others.

Article 1. Student Responsibility

Section 1. In undertaking studies at Amherst College, every student agrees to abide by the above statement. Section 2. Students shall receive a copy of the Statement of Intellectual Responsibility with their initial course schedule at the beginning of each semester. It is the responsibility of each student to read and understand this statement and to inquire as to its implications in his or her specific course. Section 3. Orderly and honorable conduct of examinations is the individual and collective responsibility of the students concerned in accordance with the above Statement and Article 2, Section 3, below.

Article 2. Faculty Responsibility

Section 1. Promotion of the aims of the Statement of Intellectual Responsibility is a general responsibility of the Faculty. Section 2. Every member of the Faculty has a specific responsibility to explain the implications of the statement for each of his or her courses, including a specification of the conditions under which academic work in those courses is to be performed. At the beginning of each semester members of the Faculty will receive with their initial class lists a copy of the Statement of Intellectual Responsibility and a reminder of the duty to explain its implications in each course. Section 3. Examinations shall not be proctored unless an instructor judges that the integrity of the assessment process is clearly threatened. An instructor may be present at examinations at appropriate times to answer questions.

2. Statement on Freedom of Expression and Dissent (Voted by the Faculty 1968)

Amherst College prizes and defends freedom of speech and dissent. It affirms the right of teachers and students to teach and learn, free from coercive force and intimidation and subject only to the constraints of reasoned discourse and peaceful conduct. It also recognizes that such freedom and rights entail responsibility for one's actions. Thus, the College assures and protects the rights of its members to express their views so long as there is neither use nor threat of force nor interference with the rights of others to express their views. The College considers disruption of classes (whether, for example, by the abridgment of free expression in a class or by obstructing access to the place in which the class normally meets) or of other academic activities to be a serious offense that damages the integrity of an academic institution.

3. Statement on Respect for Persons (Voted by the Faculty, 1969)

Respect for the rights, dignity and integrity of others is essential for the well-being of a community. Actions by any person which do not reflect such respect for others are damaging to each member of the community and hence damaging to Amherst College. Each member of the community should be free from interference, intimidation or disparagement in the work place, the classroom and the social, recreational and residential environment.

Harassment. Amherst College does not condone harassment of any kind, against any group or individual, because of race, religion, ethnic identification, age, handicap, gender or sexual orientation. Such harassment is clearly in conflict with the interests of the College as an educational community and in many cases with provisions of law.

Sexual Harassment. Amherst College is committed to establishing and maintaining an environment free of all forms of harassment. Sexual harassment breaches the trust that is expected and required in order for members of an educational community to be free to learn and work. It is a form of discrimination because it unjustly deprives a person of equal treatment. Sexual harassment can injure anyone who is subjected to it, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

The College's policy on sexual harassment is directed towards behavior, and does not purport to regulate beliefs, attitudes, or feelings. It is based on federal and state law, which prohibit certain specific forms of sexual harassment; on the College's statement on respect for persons, which requires that a person's sex and sexual orientation be treated with respect; and on the following statement on sexual harassment passed by the Faculty on May 23, 1985:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, academic work, or participation in social or extracurricular activities; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile or demeaning working, academic or social environment.

The College believes that sexual harassment, besides being intrinsically harmful and illegal, also corrupts the integrity of the educational process.

Because it is possible for one person to act unintentionally in a manner that sexually harasses another, it is imperative that all members of the College community understand what kinds of behavior constitute sexual harassment. Hence, we provide here a general description of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment occurs when one person attempts to coerce another into a sexual relationship, or to punish a refusal to respond to or comply with sexual advances. Attempts to subject a person to unwanted attention of a sexual character, sexual slurs or derogatory language directed at another person's sexuality or gender also can be forms of sexual harassment. Thus, sexual harassment can include a wide range of behavior, from the actual coercing of sexual relations to the forcing of sexual attentions, verbal or physical, on a non-consenting individual. It is also possible that sexual harassment can occur unintentionally when behavior of a sexual nature has the effect of creating a hostile environment. In some cases, sexual harassment is obvious and may involve an overt action, a threat, or reprisal. In other instances, sexual harassment is subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated.

Sexual harassment also occurs when a position of authority is used to threaten the imposition of penalty or the withholding of benefit unless sexual favors are granted, whether or not the threat is carried out. Sexual harassment, when it exploits the authority the institution gives its employees, or otherwise compromises the boundary between personal and professional roles, is an abuse of the power the College entrusts to them. The potential for sexual harassment exists in any sexual relationship between a student and a member of the faculty, administration or staff. Anyone in a position of authority should thoroughly understand the potential for coercion in sexual relationships between persons who are professionally affiliated. These relationships may involve persons in a position of authority over their colleagues (e.g., Tenured faculty and non-tenured faculty; administrators and staff); or they may involve those who teach, advise or supervise students.

Sexual harassment also takes the form of unwanted attention among peers. Sexual harassment by peers may have the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment. Sexual harassment by peers can occur between strangers, casual acquaintances, hall-mates, and even friends.

Because sexual harassment is a direct violation of the college's "Statement on Respect for Persons," Amherst College will seriously and thoroughly investigate any complaints of sexual harassment and will discipline those found guilty. Any student who believes she or he may be the victim of sexual harassment by a member of the faculty should consult the section on "The Resolution of Student Grievances with Members of the Faculty." Any student who believes she or he may be the victim of sexual harassment by a peer should consult the student grievance procedures in the Student Handbook.

Consensual sexual relationships between faculty members and students (Voted by the Faculty, 1993). Experience has shown that consensual sexual relationships between faculty members and students can lead to harassment. Faculty members should understand the potential for coercion in sexual relationships with students with whom the faculty members also have instructional, advisory or supervisory relationships.

Even when such relationships do not lead to harassment, they can compromise the integrity of the educational process. The objectivity of evaluations which occur in making recommendations or assigning grades, honors, and fellowships may be called into question when a faculty member involved in those functions has or has had a sexual relationship with a student.

For these reasons, the College does not condone, and in fact strongly discourages consensual sexual relationships between faculty members and students. The College requires a faculty member to remove himself or herself from any supervisory, evaluative, advisory, or other pedagogical role involving a student with whom he or she has had or currently has a sexual relationship. Since the absence of this person may deprive the student of educational, advising, or career opportunities, both parties should be mindful of the potential costs to the student before entering into a sexual relationship.

In cases in which it proves necessary, the Dean of Faculty, in consultation with the Dean of Students and the chair (or head) of the relevant department, will evaluate the student's situation and take measures to prevent deprivation of educational and advising opportunities. The appropriate officers of the College will have the authority to make exceptions to normal academic rules and policies that are warranted by the circumstances.

4. Statement of Student Rights (Voted by the Faculty April 1987; amended March 1998)

Subject to respect for the rights of others, every student enjoys the assurance of the full exercise of those rights expressed in the Honor Code and the preceding three statements, including but not limited to the following specific rights:

The right to engage in the free exchange of ideas.

The right to protest and to dissent in a peaceable manner and to join with others in other nonviolent forms of common action.

The right to complain of injustice and to bring grievances to the appropriate offices of the College without fear of retaliation.

The right to attend functions and to utilize College facilities subject to prescribed rules.

The right to reasonable peace and quiet in residential and academic facilities and to an atmosphere conducive to work and study.

The right to privacy in one's assigned room, subject to compliance with the College's regulations and to the security of one's own property and property furnishing the common and public spaces at the College.

The right, when participating in any aspect of life of the College or traveling among the Five Colleges, to be free from harassment for reasons of one's race, religion, national origin, ethnic identification, age, political affiliation and/or belief, sexual orientation, sex, or physical disability.