Board of Governors vote to pass controversial students’ rights policy


Adam Stephens

Board Member Christie Kinsey delivers a student affairs committee report during the Board of Governors meeting Wednesday.

The Marshall University Board of Governors unanimously voted to pass a controversial students rights policy Wednesday that some faculty members and students believed would cause uncertainty regarding a student’s right to privacy.

Policy No. SA-1 contains the phrase “students are generally entitled to the same safeguards of the rights and freedoms of citizenship as are afforded those outside the academic community.”

There was a section in the policy that was taken out due to the broadness of the phrasing, however the word “generally” is still in the policy.

Professor of psychology Pamela Mulder spoke out against the wording of the policy at a faculty senate meeting last month. She said she continues to believe the wording is too broad and should be more specific.

“If I think you’re going to be a harm to somebody else, if I think you’re going to harm yourself, if I think you’re going to engage in activities that’s going to be dangerous to the public, then I am required to report that and to deal with it,” Mulder said.

“Otherwise beyond those limits you really have confidentiality. They don’t have to say ‘generally’ if in fact what they’re saying is that they have those same rights, but when you say ‘generally’ those rights are not spelled out,” Mulder said. “I get very frustrated when I feel like my students’ rights aren’t being met.”

Nathan Korne is a sophomore at Marshall and said he doesn’t think the policy is specific enough.

“I don’t like the word ‘generally’ because it kind of goes down a rabbit trail,” Korne said. “I think it’s pretty dangerous for me as a student that if another person thinks that somebody else is doing something they don’t agree with it could trample on somebody else’s privacy rights.”

Mulder said what therapists need to do is layout what privacy rights an individual has when going to counseling.

“The first thing that a good therapist does is talk to you about the limits of confidentiality so that you know exactly what you’re getting into,” Mulder said. “Students should ask for that no matter where they go. Then if those rights are violated, then they need to make a report, tell somebody, maybe contact the board, write a letter or just get somebody to help them with it.”

Mulder also said there were faculty senate members who wanted to change the wording of the policy, but weren’t able to.

“There were several of us who talked about seeing if we could get it changed in other ways, but we didn’t really have another medium to do it,” Mulder said.

Mulder also said this isn’t the first time she has had concerns about campus policies.

“I would like for students to know that there are questionable things that go into a lot of the rules around here,” Mulder said. “Many years ago I did a lot of work with the justice plans on campus and I felt that they were heavily weighted toward ‘if we think the student’s guilty, get him.’ In real court, you have to have a preponderance of evidence showing guilt.”

Two board members who voted in favor of the new policy declined to comment when asked about the wording of the policy.

Adam Stephens can be contacted at [email protected].