The University of Illinois, like countless other American institutions, expects all those affiliated with the University to adhere to its stated code of conduct – that includes students of course, but also faculty, staff, alumni, and any public representatives of the University. State and federal laws lay the groundwork for policies around nondiscrimination, ethics, and equal opportunity. Then, according to the Board of Trustees governance, the University expands on that groundwork to solidify its commitment to “equal opportunity, affirmative action, and diversity.”
The Groundwork: State and Federal Regulations
At the federal level, the governance of educational activities is limited. Instead, power lies with individual states to oversee schools and Universities, which means variability exists from region to region. Consistent among all of them, however, are the following:
- Disability Discrimination: Title II of the ADA lays out provisions to protect Americans with disabilities from discrimination. This piece of legislature offers language on which Universities, including the University of Illinois, can build their anti-discrimination policy around the physical or medical limitations of a student enrolled at or applying to the University. It goes a step further to outline the reasonable provisions an institution must take to accommodate the physical needs of a qualifying student.
- Sex Discrimination: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 outlines policies on discrimination based on sex. Ever since its introduction, Title IX has transformed Universities across the nation. The preeminent language states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance[.]” What's implied is that female students and student-athletes are entitled to the same opportunities as their male counterparts. That includes the right to protection from sexual misconduct.
- Race and National Origin Discrimination: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or nationality. That means students are entitled to a fair admission process and access to adequate University resources regardless of their race.
University of Illinois Student Code
The University of Illinois, as a large state university system, has three separate campuses that each serve a general region of the state of Illinois.
- The University of Illinois - Chicago
- The University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
- The University of Illinois - Springfield
Although each of these campuses has its own unique feel, population, and environment, the way that each school operates on a day-to-day basis will be very similar. This is because, as members within a singular university system, they will all - at least to some extent - follow established, universal regulations and guidelines for the entire system.
Since this is the case, we can use the codes of conduct or student codes for each of the separate schools interchangeably to illustrate our points. We'll start by referencing the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign student code.
As stated in the Preface to the University of Illinois Student Code: “The Student Code is a collection of rules, regulations, policies, and procedures that apply to, or otherwise directly impact, students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.” It goes on to say that, while the 117-page handbook is not exhaustive, it is the most thorough document outlining the key proponents of being a Fighting Illini.
The Conference on Conduct Governance (CCG)
A series of boards and committees are behind the scenes of most University operations, and that's not unique to the University of Illinois. In this specific case, the Committee responsible for overseeing the Code of Conduct itself is the CCG. This Committee works with the University Chancellor, the Dean of Students, and the University Senate to maintain and update the bylaws that govern University operations.
The Student Code offers insight into what it takes for the Committee to change, add, or remove standards within the document.
Article 1 – Student Rights and Responsibilities
Students are encouraged to pay close attention to this section of the Student Code as it outlines the rights of University students, their responsibilities while on or representing campus, and key academic integrity policies and procedures. It is in this section that students can find anything they need to know about common points of contention or conflict that arise on campus.
Part I: Student Rights
First and foremost, students at the University of Illinois are members of the Illinois state community and, more broadly, of the United States of America. As such, all students walk onto campus with the same basic rights as a member of the larger community.
- In the classroom: students have the right to an opinion that differs from that of a professor, and they have the right to reasonably voice that opinion. Professors and staff, then, are responsible for treating the views and opinions of students as confidential so as to prevent the student from facing potential discrimination. Should students feel their rights have been violated, the escalation process is as follows: course instructor, then department head, and then college dean.
- Campus expression: students are permitted to organize on campus for any reason provided that the organization does not disrupt order or openly promote the harm or discrimination of others. That means students have a right to peacefully protest, rally, picket, and otherwise express nonviolent opposition.
- Privacy: Members of the University have a right to privacy that is protected by state and federal law. Students DO NOT forfeit any rights to privacy by setting foot on campus, including residence quarters. So long as students are obeying the law, they have a right to socialize whenever and however they see fit.
- Religious Beliefs and Practices: Students are protected under Illinois law in the expression and accommodation of their religious beliefs. Students may request in writing an appeal to an instructor's decision not to accommodate a request on these grounds.
- Nondiscrimination Policy: All state and federal nondiscrimination laws are upheld by the University; the Student Code further states that individuals will not be discriminated against for such things as marital status, pregnancy, arrest record, military discharge status, or order of protection status. Multiple resources are given to allow students to do their due diligence on the subjects of Title IX, affirmative action, and harassment policies.
- Intimate Relationships: To prevent inherent conflict of interest with such a relationship, the University does not permit individuals to engage in personal relationships in a case where educational decisions are being made. In other words, a student may not date a professor while enrolled in that professor's class.
- Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Firstly