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updated January 8, 2009

Student Life

Overview

The purpose of the student services program at USC Union is to contribute to the total development of the student as an individual. This is accomplished through services and activities designed to supplement students’ academic programs, as well as to assist in their physical, emotional, and social growth.

A student is any person who is admitted, enrolled, or registered for study at the University of South Carolina for any academic period. Persons who are not officially enrolled for a particular term but who have a continuing student relationship with the University of South Carolina are considered students.

An orientation and preregistration program is conducted by the Student Affairs Office each summer for new freshmen and for transfer students. In addition, extended orientation is provided to new students throughout their first year through University 101. Counseling services are provided without charge to USC Union students on matters of personal, educational, and career concerns.

Academic advisement and placement testing are coordinated by the associate dean, with assistance from the Admissions Office. Each student is assigned an academic advisor upon enrolling. Advisors are faculty members and administrators; they help students select courses which satisfy the requirements of their degree programs and empathetically assist students to resolve problems they experience during the course of their academic programs.

The University provides a balanced student-life program, which contributes significantly to students’ educational experiences. Students are encouraged to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, which are designed to enhance their sense of community responsibility and their capacity for leadership.

Services for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities are assisted through the academic dean’s office, with the help of the Columbia Office of Educational Support Services. The professionally trained staff works toward accessibility for all University programs, services, and activities in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some of the services offered include orientation, priority registration, library access, test proctoring, classroom adaptations, and academic, personal, and vocational counseling.

Student Lounge/Bookstore

A comfortable lounge area is available for students to study, socialize, or eat. The facility includes snack and drink machines, dining tables, cable television, magazines, and sofas and chairs.

Adjacent to the lounge is the campus bookstore. Students may purchase course textbooks, limited supplies, and Carolina clothing and paraphernalia. If the bookstore does not have an item, the staff will try to obtain it from another bookstore. Book buy-back is normally held at the end of each semester.

Student Identification Cards

USC Union students receive picture ID cards. The cards are made during registration periods and must be used for voting, admission to dances, access to the library, and other programs. Students who lose their ID cards may lose some student privileges until a replacement is obtained. A fee is charged for replacement cards. Cards are revalidated each semester.

Student Organizations

Since it recognizes that extracurricular activities form an important part of the overall educational experience of students at the University, USC Union promotes and regulates the activities of student organizations. The institution provides the use of its name and physical facilities, contributes faculty time for advice and counsel, and encourages development of student government and organization.

A student organization is defined as any group or organization that admits USC Union students to its membership, whose program or activities affect student welfare, and that uses campus facilities in the operation of its program.

Student Government Association

The Student Government Association (SGA) is composed of all registered undergraduate students of the University of South Carolina Union. Upon payment of semester fees, students are automatically considered members of this organization. Student Government Association officers are elected by the student body; these officers include a president, vice president, and secretary-treasurer. These officers, together with the senators, comprise the governing council of the SGA.

The purpose of the SGA is to represent the student body both academically and socially. The SGA schedules and directs activities. Any co-curricular activity of interest to students can be organized within the framework of the SGA.

Clubs

African-American Association (AAA). This group is designed to assess and meet the needs of USC Union’s African American.

Hiking Club. This group participates on nature trails throughout the year.

USCU Music Club. This group provides students an opportunity to enhance a greater appreciation for music and provides an environment to promote the enjoyment of music.

Women on a Mission. The purpose of Women of a Mission is to empower and build the self-esteem of our fellow human beings, especially females.

Contact the Student Affairs Office to join or start a new club. Your active participation in the clubs and other organizations at USC Union will greatly enhance your collegiate experience.

Intramural and Activity Program

The intramural and activity program provides USC Union students with a variety of extracurricular activities. These give students an opportunity to interact with classmates and/or students from other colleges. A student programming officer is responsible for scheduling and directing intramural and activity programs.

Popular on-campus intramural events include basketball, volleyball, flag football, and softball. USC Union also uses off-campus facilities to field softball teams in University tournaments (softball and basketball) and local leagues. Other sports are considered, depending on student interest.

Campus Security

USC Union is committed to providing a safe environment in which students and faculty can interact and learn. The director of maintenance, answering directly to the dean, is responsible for maintaining safety and security. Any emergency, crime, accident, or other disturbance should be reported directly to the Office of the Dean or to any other available campus official. After regular office hours, this report can be made to the library or to appropriate officials using the emergency telephone numbers posted on all major entrances to campus buildings. The dean or other designated official will then evaluate the situation and notify the city police or other emergency personnel as appropriate.

The maintenance and custodial personnel work on rotating shifts, providing security for the campus from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and are on call and make routine checks on the weekends. Local law enforcement officers are used during special events for further security when necessary.

USC Union requires that all faculty, staff, and students have photo IDs when on campus. These IDs are checked when necessary by campus personnel or by city police to be sure that authorized personnel are using campus facilities. Faculty, staff, and students are also required to have vehicles registered and parking decals in place when on campus. Parking lots are regularly monitored for security purposes.

USC Union does not authorize off-campus activities by student organizations. All campus activities are supervised and monitored by campus officials, and local law enforcement is used for certain campus activities.

USC Union has established specific procedures to prevent sex offenses and to follow-up when any sex offense has occurred. The campus provides information on rape, date rape, and other sex offenses through the use of special programs, University 101 classes, and literature that is available to all students. In the event of a sexual assault on campus, those involved should inform the dean or security office (director of maintenance). The victim will be assisted in reporting the incident to local law enforcement officials, will be required to preserve all evidence as proof of a criminal assault, and will be aided in further handling the situation in accordance with the disciplinary procedures published elsewhere in this bulletin. The victim will also be informed of opportunities for counseling and other services, both on campus and elsewhere in the community, and will be further informed of available options for changing academic and living situations after an alleged sexual assault if requested.

Student Rights and Freedoms

Preamble

Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, and the pursuit of truth, the development of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search of truth.

Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, on the campus and in the larger community. Students should exercise their freedom with responsibility.

This responsibility to secure and to respect general conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the academic community. The University has a duty to develop policies, and procedures should be developed within the framework of general standards with the broadest possible participation of the members of the academic community. The purpose of this statement is to enumerate the essential provisions for student freedom to learn.

Section I—Freedom of Access to Higher Education

Under no circumstances should a student be barred from admission on the basis of race, creed, or natural origin. Thus, within the limits of its facilities, the University should be open to all students who are qualified according to its admission standards.

Section II—In the Classroom

The professor in the classroom and in conference should encourage free discussion, inquiry, and expression. Student performance should be evaluated solely on an academic basis.

Students should be free to take reasoned exceptions to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study in which they are enrolled.

Students should have protection through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation. At the same time, they are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled.

Information about views, beliefs, and political associations which professors acquire in the course of their work as instructors, advisors, and counselors should be considered confidential.

Section III—Student Records

To minimize the risk of improper disclosure, academic and disciplinary records should be separate. Final transcripts or academic records should contain only information about academic status. Information from disciplinary files should not be available to any unauthorized persons. No permanent records should be kept which reflect the political activities or beliefs of students. Authorized counselors should not, without the consent of the student, disclose any information obtained while counseling any student unless failure to disclose the information may result in physical or emotional harm to the student or others.

Section IV—Student Affairs

In student affairs certain standards must be maintained if the academic freedom of students is to be preserved.

Students bring to the campus a variety of interests previously acquired and develop many new interests as members of the academic community. They should be free to organize and join associations to promote their common interests. Campus organizations, including those affiliated with an extramural organization, should be open to all students without respect to race, creed, or national origin.

Students and student organizations should be free to examine and to discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately. At the same time, it should be made clear that in their public expressions or demonstrations, students or organizations speak only for themselves. Students should be allowed to invite and to hear any person of their own choosing, subject to those routine procedures provided for off-campus speakers.

As constituents of the academic community, students should be free, individually and collectively, to express their views on issues of general interest to the student body. The student body should have clearly defined means to participate in the formulation and application of institutional policy affecting academic and student affairs.

Student publications and the student press are a valuable aid in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration on the campus. Institutional authorities have a responsibility to provide written clarification of the role of the student publications, of the standards to be used in their evaluation, and the limitations on external control of their operation. At the same time, the editorial freedom of student editors entails corollary responsibilities to be governed by the canons of responsible journalism.

Section V—Off-Campus Freedom of Students

University students are both citizens and members of the academic community. As citizens, students should enjoy the same freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, and right of petition that other citizens enjoy, and, as members of the academic community, they are subject to the obligations which accrue to them by virtue of this membership. Faculty members and administrative officials should ensure that institutional powers are not employed to inhibit such intellectual and personal development of students as is often promoted by their exercise of the rights of citizenship both on and off campus.

Section VI—Procedural Standards in Disciplinary Proceedings

a) Standards of conduct expected of students—The institution has an obligation to clarify those standards of behavior which it considers essential to its educational mission and its community life. These general behavioral expectations and the resultant specific regulations should represent a reasonable regulation of student conduct, but the student should be as free as possible from imposed limitations that have no direct relevance to his or her education. Offenses should be clearly defined as possible and interpreted in a manner consistent with the aforementioned principles of relevancy and reasonableness. Students detected or arrested for allegedly committing violations of institutional regulations, or infractions of ordinary law, should be informed of their rights. No form of harassment should be used by institutional representatives to coerce the admission of guilt. Pending action on the charges, the status of a student should not be altered, or his or her right to be present on the campus and to attend classes suspended except where the administration determines such action is necessary.

The formality of the procedure to which a student is entitled in disciplinary cases should be proportionate to the gravity of the offense and the sanctions which may be imposed. Matters involving minor infractions of the University regulations where suspension is not contemplated may be handled by the administration in an informal manner. Where misconduct may result in suspension, the student should have the right to a hearing before the Student Affairs Committee.

b) The Student Affairs Committee—1) the committee should include faculty members and student members; 2) the student should be informed, in writing, of the reasons for the proposed disciplinary action with sufficient particularity and in sufficient time to ensure opportunity to prepare for the hearing. Also, he or she should be informed of the time and place of the hearing; 3) the student appearing before the committee should have the right to be assisted in his or her defense by an advisor of his or her choice; 4) the burden of proof should rest upon the officials bringing the charge; 5) the student should be given the opportunity to testify and to present evidence and witnesses. The student should have an opportunity to hear and question adverse witnesses. In no case should the committee consider statements against the student unless he or she has been given an opportunity to refute unfavorable conclusions which might otherwise be drawn; 6) all matter upon which the decision may be based must be introduced into evidence at the proceeding before the committee. The decision should be based solely upon such matter. Improperly acquired evidence should not be admitted; 7) there should be, where possible, a verbatim record, such as a tape recording, of the hearing. All proceedings will be confidential. The decision of the Student Affairs Committee shall be final, subject to the student’s right of appeal to the dean.

Code of Student Conduct

Students should be aware that educational institutions are not sanctuaries from the reach of the civil and criminal laws of the communities and states wherein such institutions exist. Students who commit offenses against the laws of municipalities, states, or the United States are subject to prosecution by those authorities as well as liable for disciplinary action under University rules when their conduct violates institutional standards.

General Conduct Regulations

Students are expected to abide by these rules, and administrators are required to enforce them.

Damage to property. Acts of vandalism, such as damage to or destruction of property owned by the University or its members, are prohibited.

Firearms and other deadly weapons. The unauthorized possession or use, in any way, of firearms or weapons of any kind, such as dirks, slingshots, metal knuckles, razors, or any other deadly weapon, is prohibited.

Flammable materials and fireworks. The possession, ignition, or detonation of any object or article which could cause damage by fire or other means to person or property is prohibited.

Arson. No person shall start a fire or be in any way responsible for starting a fire on University property.

False fire alarms and misuse of fire equipment. No person shall make, or cause to be made, a false alarm. No person shall tamper with fire safety equipment.

Theft or misappropriation. Theft of any kind, including seizing, receiving, or concealing property with the knowledge that it has been stolen, is forbidden.

Disorderly conduct. Individual or group behavior which unnecessarily disturbs individuals or groups is prohibited. Such conduct includes physical assault or threat of assault and boisterous conduct which is unreasonable for the area in which it occurs.

Sale of textbooks. The sale by any student of a textbook that does not belong to that student is prohibited.

Forgery. Forgery and the alteration or misuse of University documents or records is forbidden.

Keys. No one may use or have in possession any University key without proper authorization.

Misuse of telephone. No student shall make or assist in making annoying telephone calls.

Disruption of normal activity. No one may interfere with or disrupt the normal activity and operations of students, faculty, administration, or staff of this institution or its buildings or facilities.

Drugs. Possession, except on a physician’s or dentist’s prescription, of stimulant, depressant, narcotic, or hallucinogenic drugs and other agents having potential for abuse violates University rules and is prohibited.

Alcoholic beverages. Consumption of alcoholic beverages on campus is prohibited.

Academic Conduct Regulations

Infractions of academic discipline include, but are not limited to:

Cheating. This refers to conduct during quizzes and examinations, which shall include using written information not specifically permitted by the instructor. It shall also include receiving or using written or oral information from any person other than the instructor. It shall further include stealing, buying, selling, or using any copy of an examination before it has been administered.

Plagiarism. This refers to submitting, as a student’s own work, material obtained from another source without indicating the source from which it was obtained. It further includes letting another person compose or rewrite a student’s assignment.

A student who assists in the forms of dishonesty mentioned above shall be considered equally as guilty as the student who cheated or plagiarized.

Reporting Procedures

Infractions of academic discipline should be reported in writing to the Student Affairs Committee.

Student Responsibility

Each student is responsible for abiding by the Code of Student Academic Responsibility at all times. In the classroom, it applies in all academic activities whether a faculty member is involved or not.

Faculty Responsibility

Each faculty member also has responsibilities with respect to this code. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the promotion of conduct conducive to the effective functioning of the code, a clear exposition to students of the values as well as the obligations of the code, a demonstration of the faculty member’s own interest in the proper functioning of the code, and the use of uniform procedures in handling violations of the code.

Penalties

Students should be aware of the range of penalties which may be assessed for infraction of rules and regulations. All penalties may be imposed either singly or in combination.

Permanent suspension. Dismissal from the University without leave to reapply for admittance.

Suspension for a period of time. Denial of enrollment, attendance, and other privileges at the University for a given period; leave to reapply for admission at termination of the period may be granted with or without qualifications.

Suspension held in abeyance. A probationary sentence in which a student is allowed to continue to be enrolled for a period; continuance as a student is conditional on good citizenship for the period, and any serious violation of rules, regulations, or laws results in suspension for a period of time.

Probation. A period during which a student is under an official warning that his or her conduct is in violation of University rules, regulations, or policies.

Restriction. Limitations upon a student’s privileges for a period of time.

Reprimand. An official rebuke making misconduct a matter of record in University files for a period of time which may extend throughout a student’s enrollment for a degree.

Grievance Policy

Preface

The University of South Carolina Union is committed to a policy of treating all members of the University community fairly in regard to their personal and professional concerns. In order to ensure that students know what to do when they need to resolve a problem, this procedure is provided.

Purpose

The primary objective of the grievance procedure is to ensure that concerns are promptly dealt with and resolutions reached in a fair and just manner. It is essential that each student be given an adequate opportunity to bring complaints and problems to the University administration with assurance that each will be given fair treatment.

Definition

A grievance is defined as dissatisfaction occurring when a student thinks that any condition affecting him or her is unjust, inequitable, or creates unnecessary hardship. Such grievances include, but are not limited to, the following problems: mistreatment by any USCU employee, wrongful assessment and processing of fees, records and registration errors, racial discrimination, sex discrimination, and handicapped discrimination, as they relate to nonacademic areas in the University.

One exception to this definition of grievance is that the procedures herein shall not extend to matters of grading student work where the substance of a complaint is simply the student’s disagreement with the mark or grade placed on the work. Such matters shall be discussed by the student and the teacher; final authority shall remain with the teacher.

Procedure

Initiating a grievance. The initial phase of the student grievance procedure requires an oral discussion between the student and the person(s) alleged to have caused the grievance. This discussion must take place within 10 working days of the incident which constituted the grievance.

First appeal. If the student wishes to file a formal grievance, a written appeal must be prepared that includes the name, address, and phone number of the grievant; the name of the person against whom the grievance is being filed; the nature of the grievance; a description of the desired solution; a description of the actions taken by the grievant to date; and all pertinent written documentation. This file must be completed and presented to the immediate supervisor of the person alleged to have caused the grievance within five working days of the initial discussion referred to in the above paragraph.

The supervisor shall immediately acknowledge receipt of the grievance and shall begin an investigation of the incident at once. The supervisor shall respond in writing of the decision to the student (with a copy to the dean) within three working days of the conclusion of the investigation.

If the student feels the grievance has been resolved, the process is complete. If not, an appeal may be brought before the Student Affairs Committee.

Appeal to the Student Affairs Committee

If the grievance is unresolved, the student may bring the grievance before the Student Affairs Committee by presenting a written statement within five working days of the date of the supervisor’s decision. This statement shall be forwarded to the dean in a sealed envelope and shall a) state the grievance, b) state why the response is unacceptable, and c) request a hearing before a grievance panel.

Any related materials (including a copy of the grievance file and the written response from the supervisor) must accompany the letter. The dean shall immediately notify the chair of the Student Affairs Committee of the appeal.

Upon receipt of the appeal, the chair shall send a copy of the appeal to the members of the committee and the major parties involved. The major parties include the person(s) against whom the grievance was initiated, the supervisor of that individual(s), and the appropriate administrator. The chair of the committee shall ask the major parties to respond in writing to the appeal within five working days.

At the end of the five working day period, the chair shall meet with the Student Affairs Committee to examine the request for an appellate hearing and the replies. A hearing shall be granted if a majority of the quorum finds that grounds for the appeal have been substantiated. A tie vote shall result in a hearing being granted. The chair shall notify all involved parties of the decision of the committee to either hear or not hear the grievance.

The hearing shall be conducted no sooner than five working days after the decision to grant the request for the hearing and no later than 15 working days after the decision to grant the request for the hearing.

A postponement may be granted by the chair upon written request of either party. The request shall state why the postponement should be granted.

Conduct of the Hearing

The chair of the Student Affairs Committee shall open the hearing by reading the request for an appeal and informing the parties involved of the jurisdiction of the committee and its procedures. The chair shall ascertain that all the parties involved are aware of their rights, answer any questions they have in regard to these matters, and conduct the meeting.

All hearings shall be closed to the public, unless all parties agree that the hearing be opened to members of the USCU community.

A tape recording shall be made of the proceedings.

All parties involved in a hearing shall maintain in the strictest confidence the identity of the individuals appearing before the committee, as well as the information presented to the committee.

Hearings shall be conducted in an informal manner. The taking of statements from the parties to the grievance (and from witnesses, if any) may be done by discussion format, though each individual appearing before the committee may be subject to cross-examination. Witnesses shall be present only during the time they are testifying. The major parties involved in the grievance shall be required to attend all hearings of the committee.

At the conclusion of the hearing, each party shall submit a proposed solution of the grievance to the committee.

After receiving the proposed solutions to the grievance, the chair shall dismiss all individuals who are not members of the Student Affairs Committee. The committee shall reach its decision based on the information presented during the hearing and according to the statement of student rights and responsibilities.

The committee shall decide by a majority vote the solution of the grievance. In the case of a tie, the chair shall vote and thus break the tie. The chair (or designee) shall forward a copy of the committee’s decision to the major parties involved and to the dean within five working days of the conclusion of the hearing.

Decisions of the committee shall be final, subject to the student’s right to appeal directly to the dean and to the vice provost for regional campuses.

The decision of the committee shall be kept on file in the dean’s office.

The Grievance Committee

At USC Union, the Student Affairs Committee acts as the Grievance Committee and shall be composed of seven members as appointed by the faculty organization.

a) Composition—Two students, SGA president and vice president; two administrators; three faculty members.

b) Terms of office—1) All members shall serve for one calendar year. 2) If vacancies occur, individuals appointed to fill the vacancies shall serve for the unexpired portions of the original appointees’ terms. 3) If a member of the committee is involved in the grievance, the committee will elect a replacement for that particular grievance. 4) All individuals may be appointed to additional terms. Appointments shall become effective on the first day of the fall semester.

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