Kent State signs rights resolution

Aman Ali

Students disputing non-relevant material in their classes now have a resolution to ensure their rights.

Kent State is one of Ohio’s 15 public universities that signed a resolution ensuring academic freedom and intellectual pluralism.

“There is a need for faculty to teach the appropriate curriculum they’re assigned to teach,” Dean of Students Greg Jarvie said.

The Resolution on Academic Rights and Responsibilities was written by the Inter-University Council of Ohio, an organization made up of Ohio’s public universities. It was passed in October 2005 and states “each university will review its students’ rights and campus grievances procedures to recognize and foster respect for diversity of ideas.”

After the resolution passed, Jarvie and others developed the university’s plan to communicate the resolution.

Kent State’s procedures to handle academic freedom are done through the Office of the Student Ombuds.

“The appropriateness of the material will be discussed,” Jarvie said. “If a student’s grade is affected, they have every right to put forth an appeal. The student ombuds office will assist them.”

Jarvie added that the university’s academic freedom policies have been in place even before the IUC resolution. The only difference now is the university is “emphasizing” the subject of

academic freedom.

“This process has always been here,” Jarvie said. “We just want to make sure students are aware of their rights.”

The IUC wrote the Resolution on Academic Rights and Responsibilities in response to Ohio Senate Bill 24, a more restrictive academic freedom bill the Ohio General Assembly rejected last year. The IUC resolution can be considered as a compromise.

“State government has been more intrusive into higher education,” Jarvie said. “We came up with a resolution that said we can take care of it ourselves.”

Jason MacDonald, assistant professor of political science, said academic freedom policies are too vague to enforce.

“What is ‘off the subject?'” MacDonald said. “In my class, I try to cultivate a situation where students make connections between concepts that aren’t immediately apparent.”

He added a student’s criteria for determining academic freedom violations is subjective.

“Professors are in a better position to know what is relevant and what’s not,” MacDonald said.

Jarvie responded to such complaints by saying the IUC policy was implemented to ensure fairness.

“This is by no means any way to stifle academic freedom,” Jarvie said. “But hopefully, it will engage both student and faculty in regards to classroom discussions.”

Contact student affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected]