Section Two: Student Rights and Responsibilities
Notice of Nondiscrimination
Ashford University is an educational institution that admits academically qualified students to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally available to students at the University. A student shall have the right to participate in University-sponsored services and activities without discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. The University does not discriminate in employment or in its educational programs and activities on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, marital status, medical condition, service in the uniformed services, political activities and affiliations, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state or local laws. The University is an equal opportunity institution and complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
Freedom of Inquiry and Expression
Ashford University is committed to preserving the exercise of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, freedom of discussion and expression, and the right of petition and peaceful assembly. A student who exercises his or her rights as a private citizen, whether individually or collectively, must assume full responsibility for the consequences of such actions and must not identify his or her position or actions as representing the University.
Exercise of Rights of Citizenship
On-campus students are both members of the academic community and citizens of the Clinton community. As members of the academic community, students are entitled to all the rights and protections enjoyed by other members of the community. Students are also subject to obligations by virtue of this membership. As citizens of the Clinton community, students are subject to all local, state, and federal laws, the enforcement of which is the responsibility of duly constituted local, state, and federal authorities.
Institutional Authority and Local, State, and Federal Penalties
When students violate University regulations, they are subject to disciplinary action by the University, whether or not their conduct violates local, state, or federal laws. By committing an act of misconduct, a student or organization may be subject to disciplinary action by the University. Conduct regulations apply to misconduct only when the conduct adversely affects some distinct and clear interest of the University academic community. Students who act in concert to violate University regulations, or students who advise or incite to violate University regulations, are also responsible for such violations.
When students violate local, state, or federal law(s), they may incur penalties as determined by local, state, or federal authorities. Institutional actions shall not be used to duplicate functions of general laws, but when the alleged violation of the law also adversely affects the orderly operation of the University, the University may enforce its own regulations regardless of any federal, state, or local legal proceedings or dispositions. University action will be initiated only when the institution’s interest as an academic community is clearly involved.
Disability Support Services
The University is committed to providing an equal opportunity to access a full educational experience. In accordance with Section 504 the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended, Ashford University prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability. Reasonable accommodations will be granted to students who present appropriate documentation of disability and are otherwise qualified to participate in their specific program of study. Ashford University’s Office of Student Access and Wellness is dedicated to fostering equal opportunities to student success through accessible educational programs, disability related advocacy, faculty and staff education, and an enhanced awareness of individual abilities and contributions.
Effective Communication for Persons with Disabilities
Ashford University will provide information to interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence of support services and accommodations to ensure accessible programs, services, and activities of the University. The University will ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated, or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services. The University will furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities.
Ashford University will provide reasonable accommodation to students with documented disabilities in order to ensure the accessibility of programs, services, and activities of the University. The University requirements for documentation are based upon the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) Best Practices: Disability Documentation in Higher Education.
The process for determining accommodations is a collaborative one that may or may not require third-party documentation. The University reserves the right to request a reasonable level of documentation. One or more of the following documentation categories will be considered in the evaluation of student accommodation requests:
- Primary Documentation: Student’s Self-report.
Ashford University believes the student is a vital source of information regarding how he or she may be “limited by impairment.*” A student’s narrative of his or her experience of disability, barriers, and effective and ineffective accommodations is an important tool which, when structured by interview or questionnaire and interpreted by professional staff, may be sufficient for establishing disability and a need for accommodation.
- Secondary Documentation: Observation and Interaction.
The impressions and conclusions formed by Ashford University disability professionals during interviews and conversations with students or in evaluating the effectiveness of previously implemented or provisional accommodations are important forms of documentation. The University employs qualified and experienced disability professionals who will observe students’ language, performance, and strategies as an appropriate tool in validating student narrative and self-report.
- Tertiary Documentation: Information from External or Third Parties.
Documentation from external sources may include educational or medical records, reports and assessments created by health care providers, school psychologists, teachers, or the educational system. This information is inclusive of documents that reflect education and accommodation history, such as Individual Education Program (IEP), Summary Of Performance (SOP), and teacher observations.** External documentation will vary in its relevance and value depending on the original context, credentials of the evaluator, the level of detail provided, and the comprehensiveness of the narrative.
A Note about Documentation:
These guidelines apply to students taking Ashford University classes. Students should be aware that other universities and testing agencies (which administer standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Exam and Law School Admission Test) may require more extensive documentation, and should check out their requirements well in advance.
*Disability is defined by the ADA as “a physical or mental impairment with respect to an individual that (a) substantially limits one or more of the major life activities, (b) a record of such an impairment or (c) being regarded as having such an impairment...” 42 U.S.C §12102
**Revisions to Title III regulations provide, “When considering requests for modifications, accommodations, or auxiliary aids or services, the entity gives considerable weight to documentation of past modifications, accommodations, or auxiliary aids or services received in similar testing situations, as well as such modifications, accommodations, or related aids and services provided in response to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) provided under [IDEA] or a plan describing services provided pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended.” (28 C.F.R. § 36.309(b)(1)(v))
Guidance and Section-by-Section Analysis provides these examples of types of information to consider: “recommendations of qualified professionals familiar with the individual, results of psycho-educational or other professional evaluations, an applicant’s history of diagnosis, participation in a special education program, observations by educators, or the applicant’s past use of testing accommodations.” 28 C.F.R part 36 (2010)
AHEAD. (2012). Supporting Accommodation Requests: Guidance on Documentation Practices. Retrieved from http://www.ahead.org/resources/documentation_guidance.
Students who believe they are in need of accommodations should contact the Office of Student Access and Wellness at email@example.com or review general information regarding disability services and accommodations at www.ashford.edu/accessandwellness. Students who have a concern about their disability accommodations may contact the Student Access and Wellness Manager. Formal complaints will be handled in accordance with the Grievance Procedure for Student Complaints which is outlined in this section of the Catalog.
For additional information on Campus Accessibility for Students with Disabilities see the Student Services, Health, and Safety section of this Catalog.
Travel Studies for Students with Disabilities
Ashford University prides itself on its mission to provide accessible educational opportunities to its students, and takes its commitment to students with disabilities seriously. Students who wish to participate in Ashford University’s Travel Studies courses, and anticipate needs due to a disability, are encouraged to seek information and explore their options by opening a dialog regarding Travel Studies with Ashford University’s Office of Student Access and Wellness and the Travel Studies Coordinator.
Ashford University will comply with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations for all domestic travel experiences, including providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals. However, under the federal and state laws, the University is not required to provide additional funding, additional supports, or special facilities to accommodate students with disabilities who wish to participate in international travel experiences (study programs outside of the territorial United States). Ashford University cannot guarantee that Travel Studies programs taking place abroad will be as accessible to persons with disabilities as programs provided within the territorial United States.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. FERPA rights begin upon the student’s enrollment, which occurs when the student has been admitted to the University and attends any portion of a course. FERPA protected rights include the following:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access.
- Students should submit written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect to the University Registrar or the Associate University Registrar-Campus Services. The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the Registrar’s Office, the Registrar’s Office will facilitate the student’s access to the requested records.
2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
- Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. They should write to the Registrar, clearly identifying the part of the record they want changed, and specifying why it should be changed.
- If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University Registrar will notify the student in writing of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
- If, as a result of the hearing, Ashford University decides that the information in the education record is not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of the student, the student will be afforded the opportunity to place with the education record a statement commenting on the contested information in the record and/or a statement setting forth any reason for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing. The statement placed in the education record by the student will be maintained with the contested part of the record for as long as the record is maintained. When the related record is disclosed to an authorized party, the record will include the statement filed by the student.
3. The right to provide written consent prior to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records,
except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
- An exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the University. A school official may include any of the following:
- A person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff);
- A person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent);
- A person or organization acting as an official agent of the institution and performing a business function or service on behalf of the institution;
- A person serving on the Board of Trustees; or
- A student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her professional responsibilities.
- Upon request, the University discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, or is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.
- The University may disclose education records without consent to parents in the following circumstances:
- When a student is a dependent student as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
- When the student has violated any federal, state, or local law, or any rule or policy of Ashford University, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if Ashford University determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to that use or possession, and the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure to the parent; or
- The disclosure is in connection with a health or safety emergency.
- The University may disclose education records without consent when the information is deemed necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals in an emergency.
- The University may also disclose education records without consent under other exceptions authorized by FERPA.
- Directory information can be published and/or disclosed to outside organizations without a student’s prior written consent. “Directory information” means information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. If the student does not want Ashford University to disclose directory information from his or her education records without your prior written consent, the student must notify the University Registrar in writing. A request for nondisclosure of directory information is valid unless or until the student requests a change in writing. Ashford University has designated the following information as directory information:
- Student’s name
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Telephone listing
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
- Electronic mail address
- Degrees, honors, and awards received
- Date and place of birth
- Major field of study
- Dates of attendance
- Grade level
- The most recent educational agency or institution attended
- Enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time)
- Class rosters within the classroom
- The outcome of a campus hearing is part of the education record of any student personally identified, and is protected from release under FERPA. However, Ashford University observes the following legal exceptions:
- Complainants and accused in sexual misconduct and sexual harassment incidents have a right to be informed of the outcome and sanctions of the hearing, in writing, without condition or limitation, and to be kept apprised of the status of investigations;
- The University may release the final results of a disciplinary proceeding in which a student who is alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence* or non-forcible sex offense, is found in violation of the University’s Student Community Standards. The University may not disclose the name of any other student, including the victim or witness, without the prior written consent of the other student. The University will also release this information to the complainant in any of these offenses regardless of the outcome;
- In the event that the alleged victim is deceased as a result of the crime or offense, the notification will be made to next of kin (upon written request).
*A crime of violence includes arson, burglary, robbery, criminal homicide (manslaughter by negligence, murder, and non-negligent manslaughter), forcible sex offenses, assault, destruction/damage/vandalism of property and kidnapping/abduction.
4. The right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Ashford University to comply with the
requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920
Personally Identifiable Information
The US Department of Education’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations expanded the circumstances under which a student’s education records and personally identifiable information contained in such records (including Social Security Number, grades, or other private information) may be accessed without prior consent. First, the US Comptroller General, the US Attorney General, the US Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (Federal and State Authorities) may allow access to student records and personally identifiable information without prior consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any education program, which is defined as any program “ that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, career and technical education, adult education, and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. See 34 CFR § 99.3. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to a student’s education records and personally identifiable information without prior consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, even when the University objects to or does not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive any personally identifiable information, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without prior consent personally identifiable information from a student’s education records, and they may track a student’s participation in education and other programs by linking such personally identifiable information to other personal information about a student that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.
Sexual Harassment and Civil Rights Infringements
The University is committed to maintaining an academic climate in which individuals do not abuse their personal and/or professional authority or power in interpersonal relationships or cause hostile environments on the basis of gender. When University officials receive notice of gender-based discrimination or sexual harassment, the University acts to promptly and effectively investigate the allegations, to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects.
Sexual Harassment: Gender-based discrimination or deprivation that is sufficiently serious that it interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program based on power differentials (quid pro quo), the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation. Examples include: an attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship; to repeatedly subject a person to egregious unwanted sexual attention; to punish a refusal to comply; to condition a benefit on submitting to sexual advances; sexual violence; intimate partner violence; stalking; or gender-based bullying.
Discrimination: Any distinction, preference, advantage for, or detriment to an individual compared to others that is based upon an individual’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, marital status, medical condition, service in the uniformed services, political activities and affiliations, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other consideration protected by law that is sufficiently serious that it interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program.
Discriminatory Harassment: Detrimental action based on an individual’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, marital status, medical condition, service in the uniformed services, political activities and affiliations, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or other protected status that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program.
Sexual Harassment of a Student by Another Student
Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a student toward another student that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program.
Sexual Harassment of a Faculty/Staff Member by a Student
Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed by a student toward a faculty/staff member that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it substantially interferes with employment or living conditions or deprives the individual of employment access or benefits.
Sexual Harassment of a Student by a Faculty/Staff Member
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a faculty or staff member toward a student are held to constitute sexual harassment when:
- Submission to such sexual conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of rating an individual’s educational development or performance; or
- Such conduct is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program.
While a particular interaction must be offensive to both a reasonable person and to the victim to be defined as harassment, faculty and staff members and other persons of authority should be sensitive to questions about mutuality of consent that may be raised and to the conflict of interests that are inherent in personal relationships that result from professional and educational interactions. Harassment in any situation is reprehensible; it is particularly damaging when it exploits the educational dependence and trust between students and faculty/staff. When the authority and power inherent in faculty/staff relationships with students, whether overtly, implicitly, or through misinterpretation, is abused in any way, there is potentially great damage to the individual student, to the accused individual, and to the climate of the University.
Complaints Concerning Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation
Ashford University does not discriminate, harass, and/or retaliate in our programs and activities on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, marital status, medical condition, service in the uniformed services, political activities and affiliations, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state, or local laws. Students who believe they have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in violation of this policy should follow the procedure outlined in the Grievance Procedure for Student Complaints. This process involves a thorough, impartial investigation designed to provide a fair, prompt, and reliable determination about whether the Ashford University nondiscrimination policy has been violated. As necessary, Ashford University reserves the right to initiate a complaint, to serve as complainant, and to initiate conduct proceedings without a formal complaint by the victim of misconduct. Students, staff, or faculty who wish to report a concern or complaint relating to discrimination, harassment, or retaliation concerning faculty, staff, a student or students may do so by reporting the concern to the following people:
Helen Kaiser or any member of the Student Dispute Resolution Center at Dispute.Resolution@ashford.edu or (866) 974-5700 extension 4870.
Individuals with complaints of this nature also always have the right to file a formal complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), United States Department of Education, Washington, DC 20201.
Procedures for Student Complaints Regarding Sexual Misconduct
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Student Dispute Resolution Center will initiate an investigation of the complaintopen a formal case file and assign a team member toan investigator who will direct the investigation and confer with the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinator, or designee on interim action (suspension or leave), accommodations for the alleged victim, or other necessary remedial short-term actions, if such remedial actions are necessary. The investigator will take the following steps:
- Determine the identity and contact information of the complainant, whether that will be the initiator, the alleged victim, or a University proxy or representative;
- Collaborate with the complainant to identify the correct policies allegedly violated;
- Conduct an immediate initial investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to charge the accused individual, and what policy violations should be alleged as part of the complaint;
- If there is insufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the grievance should be closed with no further action;
- Collaborate with the complainant to finalize the complaint and prepare the notice of charges on the basis of the initial investigation;
- Commence a thorough, reliable, and impartial investigation by developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the accused individual, who may be given notice before or at the time of the interview;
- Complete the investigation promptly, and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline;
- Make a finding, based on a preponderance of the evidence (whether a policy violation is more likely than not);
- Present the findings to the accused individual, who may accept the findings, accept the findings in part and reject them in part, or may reject all findings;
- Share the findings and update the complainant on the status of the investigation and the outcome.
Where the accused individual is found not responsible for the alleged violation(s), the investigation should be closed. Where the accused individual accepts the finding that they violated University policy, the Conduct Administrator or designee or the manager or supervisor of faculty or staff in conjunction with Human Resources will impose appropriate sanctions for the violation, after consultation with the Title IX Coordinator. The University will act to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the victim and the University community.
In the event that the accused individual rejects the findings in part or in totality, the Conduct Administrator or designee will convene a Student Community Standards Formal Hearing. At the hearing, the findings of the investigation will be admitted, but are not binding on the decider(s) of fact. The investigator(s) may give evidence. The hearing will determine whether it is more likely than not that the accused individual violated the policies supporting the complaint. The goal of the hearing is to provide an equitable resolution via an equitable process, respecting the civil and legal rights of all participants. Specific information regarding hearing procedures is detailed in Special Procedural Provisions for Sexual Misconduct and Other Sensitive Issues located in this section of this Catalog.
The Conduct Administrator or designee has final decision making authority in regards to formal complaints, based on the recommended findings of the Student Community Standards Committee. Where an accused individual is found in violation, the Conduct Administrator or designee will impose appropriate sanctions for the violation, after consultation with the Title IX Coordinator. The Conduct Administrator or designee may delegate decision making authority to the Student Community Standards committee consisting of representatives from the following Departments: Compliance, Academics, Registrar, Student Success, Finance, Student Affairs, and/or Admissions. The University will act to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the victim and the University community. Appeal proceedings as described in this Catalog will apply to all parties to the complaint. In any complaint where there is a finding of violation of the sexual misconduct policy, the sanctioning, in addition to standard sanctioning principles, will be guided by the following goals to:
- Ensure that the discriminatory conduct is brought to an end;
- Make reasonable efforts to prevent the reoccurrence of the discriminatory conduct in the future;
- Restore the victim, as much as possible, to his or her pre-deprivation status and undo the effects of gender-based discrimination upon him or her. Changes to academic and/or residential living situations may be made.
The Title IX coordinator for Ashford University is Rebecca Wardlow, University Provost.
Dr. Wardlow can be contacted at:
(800) 798-0584 or at Provost@ashford.edu
Mailing Address: 400 North Bluff Blvd, Clinton, IA 52732
Grievance Procedure for Student Complaints*
The Ashford University community benefits from informal processes and formal procedures that encourage prompt resolution of complaints and concerns that students may have about the implementation of policies and procedures that govern the institution.
Students pursuing grades appeals, transfer credit appeals, appeals of satisfactory academic progress dismissal, or appeals of Student Community Standards Committee findings, should follow the procedures for these appeals outlined elsewhere in this Catalog. For financial complaints, students should first contact his or her designated Student Advisor (or supervisor). Students may not use the grievance process to challenge course content, unless that challenge relates to a civil rights concern. For questions about course content, students should contact the Campus Dean or Executive Dean of the college in which they are enrolled.
Initiators are encouraged to begin the dispute resolution process within thirty (30) calendar days of the incident prompting the complaint or from the date of knowledge of the incident prompting the complaint.
Step I: Informal Departmental Dispute Resolution. Whenever possible, the problem or complaint first should be discussed with the individual involved in the complaint (e.g., with the Advisor, Instructional Specialist, Instructor, Manager, etc.). If satisfactory resolution is not reached after discussion with the individual, the student should contact the individual’s direct supervisor to attempt to resolve the complaint. The University does not require a student to contact the person involved or that person’s supervisor if doing so is impracticable. If the student’s concerns remain unresolved or if he or she is not satisfied with the resolution after six (6) business days,** the student may proceed to Step II.
Step II: Informal Facilitation/Mediation. The Student Dispute Resolution Center (Center) offers students, alumni, prospective applicants, former students and others with concerns about something related to the student experience an opportunity to swiftly and fairly resolve confusion, frustration, or a dispute through confidential dispute resolution. The University vests the Student Dispute Resolution Center with the limited authority to resolve certain student concerns quickly. A student may contact the Center at (866) 974-5700, extension 4870 or at Dispute.Resolution@ashford.edu. Students also may complete and submit the Informal Student Dispute Resolution form available at www.ashford.edu/student_services/center.htm to Dispute.Resolution@ashford.edu or to fax number (877) 817-6732. Within three (3) business days of the submission of this form, a Student Dispute Resolution Specialist will contact the student and attempt to help him or her resolve his or her dispute informally.
Students also have the option to participate in confidential, interest-based facilitated negotiation (except in instances of alleged sexual harassment or violence. For those types of complaints, please see the section entitled Complaints Concerning Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation in this section of the Catalog). To initiate the mediation process, students may submit a Request to Mediate and Confidentiality form available at www.ashford.edu/student_services/mediation.htm to Mediation@ashford.edu or to fax number (877) 817-6734 or call (866) 974-5700, extension 4870. Within three (3) business days of the submission of this form, a neutral Student Dispute Resolution Facilitator will contact the student to schedule the facilitation or mediation. If the student and the University have not reached an agreement that resolves the student’s concerns within ten (10) business days, he or she may proceed to Step III. The mediation process is confidential. Students should feel welcome to call the Office of Student Facilitation & Mediation at any time with questions about the Mediation Process at (866) 974-5700, extension 4720 or Mediation@ashford.edu. Additional information about mediation and what to expect during the process is available on the website at www.ashford.edu/student_services/mediation.htm.
Step III: Formal Grievance Process. Once the Informal Departmental Dispute Resolution process and the Informal Facilitation/Mediation processes have been completed, a student may submit the Formal Grievance Submission form available at www.ashford.edu/student_services/grievance.htm to Grievance.Resolution@ashford.edu or to fax number (877) 286-7711 to initiate the formal grievance process.
Initiators are encouraged to submit the completed form within thirty (30) calendar days of completing the informal dispute resolution process.
Except in cases where the University administration determines that notice may endanger the health or safely of the initiator or other persons, individuals named in the grievance may be notified of allegations that involve them.
Phase One: Review and Evaluation
Within five (5) business days, the University will review the Formal Grievance Submission form to ensure that:
- Efforts at informal dispute resolution have occurred;
- The form is complete;
- The allegations stated are considered a grievance as outlined in this Catalog.
If clarification or additional information is required, a Student Grievance Resolution Administrator will contact the student to discuss his or her grievance and provide guidance about any additional information that might be needed to proceed to the next phase.
Phase Two: Investigation and Fact Finding
The University will have thirty (30) business days to investigate the concerns and allegations raised in the Formal Grievance Submission form. During the investigation phase, the Student Grievance Resolution Administrator will contact the student and others with relevant information to discuss his or her concerns. The student’s participation in the process is valuable and desirable, and the Student Grievance Resolution Administrator may speak with the student several times during the investigation stage. Students should be prepared to speak with the Administrator and to provide any additional information the Administrator might request. After the expiration of the thirty (30) business day investigation phase, the Administrator will not be able to accept any new information or evidence relating to the student’s grievance.
Phase Three: Evaluation and Response
After the conclusion of the investigation phase, the Director of Student Grievance Resolution will have ten (10) business days to provide the student with a written response to his or her grievance. Generally, formal grievances are evaluated through a collaborative process that involves the Campus or Executive Dean of the College in which the student is enrolled, University Provost, Vice President/Campus Director, Vice President of Student Services, Director of Student Affairs, or designee who have decision making authority in regards to formal grievances. Student Grievance Resolution Administrators are designated to impartially investigate the dispute and present a recommendation to those with decision-making authority.
The Campus or Executive Dean of the College in which the student is enrolled, University Provost, Vice President/Campus Director, Vice President of Student Services, Director of Student Affairs, or designee may delegate decision making authority to a grievance committee consisting of representatives from the following departments: Academics, Compliance, Registrar, Student Success, Student Finance, Student Affairs, Student Services, Financial Student Services, the Campus or Executive Deans, and/or Admissions. Those with decision-making authority will use the preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) as the standard for reviewing, evaluating and deciding the outcome of the grievance.
Under certain stated circumstances, a student may appeal the University’s response to the formal grievance. Unless a student articulates a permissible ground for appeal, the response to the formal grievance is final.
Step IV: Presidential Appeal of Formal Grievance Response. The grievance response issued by the University may be appealed by completing and submitting the Presidential Appeal form to GrievanceAppeal@ashford.edu within ten (10) business days of the date on the response letter. Students may appeal only on the following grounds:
- To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original investigation, that could be outcome determinative;
- To assess whether a material deviation from written procedures impacted the fairness of the process in a way that could be outcome determinative;
- To challenge if the findings of the investigation do not accord with the preponderance of the evidence; or,
- To assess whether bias of the investigator deprived the process of impartiality in a way that could be outcome determinative.
Phase One: Review and Evaluation
Within five (5) business days, the University will review the Presidential Appeal form to ensure that:
- It states one or more of the four (4) grounds for appeal; and
- It is accompanied by any relevant newly available information or evidence that was not available during the investigation phase of the formal grievance process.
If the appeal does not state a ground for appeal or include new information or evidence to evaluate, the student will be notified that no action will be taken on the appeal and will be given the option to amend the appeal within five (5) business days of receiving notice that no action will be taken on the appeal as it was submitted. Students will be allowed this five (5) day window to amend and cure the appeal once.
Phase Two: Evaluation and Determination
The President, or designee, will render a written decision on the appeal within ten (10) business days** from the end of Phase One of the Presidential Appeal Process. The President or designee will use the preponderance of the evidence standard of review (more likely than not) to make a determination of an appeal of the formal grievance outcome. The President’s determination shall be final.
Please note that Ashford University values its students and wants to create multiple avenues for students to bring forth concerns. In addition to the previously described complaint procedures, at any time, an initiator may select to notify the University of a concern using the confidential, third-party alert hotline, www.ashfordstudentcomplaints.alertline.com or (855) 274-5539.
*The terms “student” and “initiator” are used interchangeably and refer to a prospective applicant, applicant, student, former student, alumnus, individual with a concern relating to the student experience, or person who has an outstanding financial obligation to the University. Individuals who have concerns related to the student experience will be directed to use these procedures. Complaints initiated by attorneys on behalf of students will be processed according to Step IV of this policy.
**Business day is defined to mean normal operating hours, Monday through Friday, excluding recognized national holidays. In cases where additional time is needed in the investigation of a complaint, students will be notified accordingly.
Complaints to Accrediting Bodies
Students may file a complaint with the University’s institutional accrediting body by contacting The Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association, www.ncahlc.org.
Students may file a complaint with the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by regular mail to International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), 11374 Strang Line Road, Lenexa, KS 66215, USA.
Note: Please refer to http://www.ashford.edu/statedisclosure.htm for state-specific grievance information.
Basis for a Grade Appeal
Grades may be appealed based on the student’s perception that any of the following conditions exist:
- An error was made in the calculation of the course grade.
- The instructor was incorrect with respect to an objective fact within the discipline and this error affected the student’s final grade.
Students experiencing extreme temporary hardship during the last 25% of a course should request an incomplete grade through their instructor prior to the course end date. However, there may be extreme circumstances that prohibit a student from making this request prior to the conclusion of a course. To appeal for an “I” grade after the end date of a course, the student must fax or email the written grade appeal with official documentation of the hardship experienced. An incomplete grade or a grade of “W” may be approved and applied for the following documented reasons that directly impacted the student’s ability to complete the course requirements or program during the last 25% of the course:
- Documented military duty that resulted in an inability to continue in the course or program;
- Documented personal or family* medical emergency;
- Documented act of nature;
- Documented death in the family*; or
- Documented temporary severe economic hardship.
Students who are administratively dropped from a course for not meeting attendance requirements are not eligible to receive an “I” grade. Students who are not able to complete at least 75% of the course prior to requesting an incomplete grade are also ineligible.
Note: Please refer to the General Academic Information and Policies section in this Catalog for complete details on Ashford University’s Incomplete Grade policy.
*Family is defined as including husband, wife, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, (step/adoptive) mother, (step/adoptive) father, (step/adoptive) brother, (step/adoptive) sister, and (step/adoptive) child.
Grade Appeal Procedure
All grades may be appealed in writing within fourteen (14) days after the grade in dispute is granted, through the following procedure:
- The student should first discuss his or her concerns with the instructor who issued the grade.
- If the student is not satisfied with the grade issued in the class, he or she should appeal to the instructor in writing for reconsideration of the grade.
If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of appeal to the instructor of the course:
- Online students may appeal to the Vice President of Academic Services or designee via the Grade Appeal form submitted to email@example.com or faxed to the number provided on the Grade Appeal form.
- On-campus students may appeal to the Campus Dean of the College in which the course is listed.
Appeals will not be accepted without documentation that the student has made a written appeal to the instructor.
- If the Dean of the College is the instructor of the course, the student may appeal to the University Provost or designee.
Tuition Credit Request Policy and Procedure
A tuition credit may be approved and applied for the following documented reasons that directly impacted a student’s ability to continue in their course or program during the timeframe in which the course occurred:
- Documented military deployment that resulted in an inability to continue in the course or program*
- Documented emergency personal or family medical reasons
- Documented act of nature
- Documented death in the immediate family**
- Documented temporary severe economic hardship
Additional documented extenuating circumstances may also be considered. This process is accomplished by requesting a Tuition Credit Request form from the student’s assigned Advisor.
*Students who experienced military deployment that resulted in an inability to continue in the course or program are also eligible for a tuition credit but should instead complete and submit a Military Course Drop or Incomplete Request. Please see Readmission of Students after Military Service under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 in the General Academic Information and Policies section of this Catalog for more information.
**Immediate family is defined as husband, wife, grandchildren, (step/adoptive) mother, (step/adoptive) father, (step/adoptive) brother, (step/adoptive) sister, (step/adoptive) child, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, or grandparent.
Online Attendance Appeals
Basis for an Attendance Appeal in an Introductory Course
Students may appeal an administrative drop from an undergraduate introductory course, such as EXP 105 or PSY 202, due to unforeseen and extreme extenuating circumstances that directly impact the ability to meet attendance requirements. The appeal may be approved for the following reasons resulting in the inability to meet attendance requirements during the period of absence:
- Military deployment;
- Emergency personal or family reason;
- Work requirement;
- Act of nature; or
- Death in the family.
At the time of appeal, students must have also met the following requirements:
- Students must have attended at least once in the first seven days of the course. Thus, students may only appeal for an excused absence for week two (2) or beyond.
- Students must have a grade equivalency of a “C” or better in points earned for the course in which they are appealing attendance through the weeks prior to the missed attendance week as of the last date of attendance.
Note: Please refer to the Online Undergraduate and Graduate Programs sections in this Catalog for more details on Ashford University’s Attendance policies. Please see Readmission of Students after Military Service under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 in the General Academic Information and Policies section of this Catalog for more information.
Attendance Appeal Procedure
- Students must submit their appeal to their Admissions Counselor, University Advisor, or Student Advisor.
- Appeals must include an explanation of the event that occurred which resulted in the inability to meet the attendance requirement and a rationale for the appeal that is documented.
- If an appeal is approved, students will be reinstated in their course.
Email is considered an official form of University-related communication. It is recommended that students check their email daily in order to stay current with University-related communications. Students have the responsibility to recognize that certain communications may be time-critical. Students interested in opting out of email communication should review the following section, Online Students Consent to the Electronic Delivery of Official University Communications and Records. Failure to check for messages and failure to receive messages due to full mailboxes, spam filtering, or auto-forwarded email are not acceptable excuses for missing official University communications.
Online students must additionally maintain and provide the University with an email address for correspondence with University administration and faculty, and students attending classes in the traditional, semester format are required to use their Ashford University-issued email address for official University communications.
Online Students Consent to the Electronic Delivery of Official University Communications and Records
The ESIGN Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 7001 et seq., requires Ashford University to provide students with certain information about how electronic records are provided, and to obtain student consent to provide certain records in electronic form. In order to enroll, apply for, or receive information about financial aid, obtain or authorize release of information from student records, and conduct other business with Ashford University, online students must indicate consent to sign agreements electronically, and receive records from the University in electronic form. A student’s consent to the electronic delivery of official University communications and records is collected in the online application.
Students may withdraw consent to electronic delivery, retention, and execution of records by sending a fax to (866) 512-7601 or a letter to the Office of the Registrar located at 13500 Evening Creek Drive North, Suite 600 San Diego, CA, 92128, including the statement “I withdraw my consent to electronic delivery, retention, and execution of records.” Any withdrawal of consent shall have prospective effect only, and shall not affect the legal effectiveness, validity or enforceability of consents, agreements, notices, disclosures, or other records provided or made available prior to the withdrawal of consent. If such consent is withdrawn, students may be administratively withdrawn from the University.
Monitoring of Email Communications: The University does not intend to monitor individual electronic mail as a routine matter, but may do so at any time as the University deems necessary for purposes of maintaining the integrity and effective operation of the student email system. No facility exists on this system for the sending or receiving of private communications.
The University reserves the right to inspect and disclose the contents of email as follows: in the course of an investigation triggered by indications of misconduct or misuse; as needed to protect the health and safety of students and staff; as needed to prevent interference with the academic mission; or as needed for technical troubleshooting or spam/content filtering.
All students should regularly review and update their contact information to ensure the University has a valid mailing address, telephone number, and email address. Ashford University maintains this information as part of the student record and requires students to update their contact information regardless of whether they have requested nondisclosure of directory information.
If Ashford University becomes aware that a student’s name recorded in the Ashford University system does not match the student’s official name as reflected by the United States Social Security Administration, the Registrar’s Office will change the name in all systems to reflect the student’s legal name.
If the student has an official name change, he or she must complete the Ashford University Name Change form and provide copies of a Social Security card reflecting the new name, along with supplemental documentation, as outlined on the Name Change form, to the Office of the Registrar.
Student Community Standards
The following Student Community Standards are applicable to individuals during all periods of enrollment following the submission of an admissions application and including institutional or approved breaks from the University. Regardless of whether an individual has applied to or enrolled at the University, any concerns relating to sexual misconduct or discrimination are addressed in the sections entitled Notice of Nondiscrimination, Sexual Harassment and Civil Rights Infringement, Complaints Concerning Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation, Procedures for Complaints Regarding Sexual Misconduct and Procedures for Student Complaints.
Ashford University is responsible for creating and maintaining an environment that is conducive to the pursuit of learning and living and to the development of students as scholars and citizens. Ashford University is committed to preserving the exercise of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, freedom of discussion and expression, and the right of peaceful assembly. Each student shall enjoy certain freedoms as a member of the academic community and should exercise his or her freedoms with responsibility. The responsibility to secure and maintain conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the University community.
University policies are necessary to safeguard the mission of Ashford University, thus protecting the freedom of students to learn without undue interference by others. If misconduct occurs, the University community must respond in ways that protect the rights and freedoms of all members of the community. The welfare and development of the individual student are primary concerns. To fulfill its function as an educational institution and to protect the rights of all the members of the University community, the University has the right and the duty to maintain order within the University and to exclude persons who disrupt the educational process. When necessary, the University will call upon the local, state, and/or federal authorities to maintain order.
All students are expected to make themselves familiar with the Student Community Standards (hereinafter referred to as Standards). Ignorance of these Standards, including behavioral expectations, specific prohibited conduct, or consequences for misconduct is not a defense to, nor grounds for, excusing violations of the Standards.
Please note that prospective students are required to uphold all relevant Student Community Standards. A prospective student who is found to have violated these Standards could be precluded from enrolling in Ashford University.
The University reserves the right to refuse admission to any applicant whose behavior is deemed inappropriate based on communication with University employees. Admissions decisions are final.
The University reserves the right to create, modify, or make changes to the Standards from time to time, as needed, or when it determines necessary in particular circumstances. The Standards may also be extended or amended to apply to new and unanticipated situations that may arise.
Jurisdiction over Student Conduct
Students at Ashford University are annually given a copy of the Student Community Standards. Students are charged with the responsibility of having read, and agreeing to abide by, the provisions of the Student Community Standards and the authority of the student conduct process. The Student Community Standards and the student conduct process apply to the conduct of individual students and University-affiliated student organizations. Because the Student Community Standards are based on shared values, they set a range of expectations for Ashford University students no matter where or when their conduct may take place. Therefore, the Student Community Standards will apply to behaviors that take place on the campus, at University-sponsored events, in online courses and may also apply off-campus, when the administration determines that the off-campus conduct affects a substantial University interest. A substantial University interest is defined to include:
- Any action that constitutes a criminal offense as defined by federal, state, or local law;
- Any situation where it appears that the student may present a danger or threat to the health or safety of him or herself or others;
- Any situation that significantly impinges upon the rights, property or achievements of self or others or significantly violates the peace and/or causes social disorder; and,
- Any situation that is detrimental to the educational interests of the University.
The Student Community Standards may be applied to conduct that takes place during the time a person is enrolled as a student, including during intra-semester breaks, between classes and between semesters. Further, the Student Community Standards applies to guests of community members, whose hosts may be held accountable for the misconduct of their guests. Visitors to and guests of Ashford University are also protected by the Student Community Standards, and may initiate complaint for violations of the Student Community Standards committed by members of the Ashford University community against them. Ashford University may also extend its jurisdiction to misconduct that occurs prior to, but is not reported until after the graduation of the offending student. There is no time limit on reporting of violations of the Student Community Standards.
However, the longer someone waits to report an offense, the harder it becomes for Ashford University to obtain information and witness statements, and to make a determination regarding alleged violations. Those who are aware of misconduct are encouraged to report it as quickly as possible to appropriate university officials at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Violations of Law
Violations of federal, state, and local laws are incorporated as offenses under the Student Community Standards. When an offense occurs over which the University has jurisdiction, the University conduct process will usually go forward notwithstanding any criminal charges that may arise from the same incident. Should a student withdraw from the University when criminal charges are made, it is the typical practice of the University to pursue investigation and resolution of campus conduct matters, regardless of the fact that the student has withdrawn.
When a student is accused, arrested, charged, or indicted for a violent or drug-related off-campus crime, the University may elect to take action against that student for violation of Student Community Standards, which incorporates alleged violations of local, state, and federal laws as Standards.
When it has reasonable cause to separate a student from the community, the University may separate a student via the Emergency Administrative Leave policy for a reasonable time pending the scheduling of a(n) online/campus hearing for violation of Student Community Standards. The University reserves the right to exercise its authority of Emergency Administrative Leave suspension upon notification that a student is facing criminal investigation and/or charges. The University will permit a student who receives an Emergency Administrative Leave to request a meeting to show cause as to why an Emergency Administrative Leave is not merited. Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, the University may still proceed with the scheduling of a(n) online/campus hearing.
When criminal charges are pending, the University may be delayed or prevented from conducting its own investigation, and moving forward with a hearing. In such cases, the University will delay its hearing until such time as it can conduct an internal investigation, or obtain from law enforcement sufficient information upon which to proceed.
In most circumstances, Ashford University will treat attempts to commit any of the violations listed in the Student Community Standards as if those attempts had been completed.
University as Complainant
As necessary, Ashford University reserves the right to initiate a complaint, to serve as complainant, and to initiate conduct proceedings without a formal complaint by the victim of misconduct.
Ashford University will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents. It is a violation of the Student Community Standards to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.
When members of groups, individuals acting collusively, or members of an organization act in concert in violation of any policy, they may be held accountable as a group, and a hearing may proceed against the group as joint accused students. In any such action, however, determinations will be made with respect to the involvement of each accused individual.
Immunity for Victims
Ashford University encourages the reporting of conduct code violations and crimes by victims. Sometimes, victims are hesitant to report to University officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. It is in the best interests of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report to University officials. To encourage reporting, Ashford University pursues a policy of offering victims of crimes amnesty from policy violations related to the incident.
The welfare of students in the University community is of paramount importance. At times, students on and off-campus may need assistance. Ashford University encourages students to offer help and assistance to others in need. Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others, for fear that they may get themselves in trouble (for example, as student who has been drinking underage might hesitate to help take a sexual misconduct victim to Campus Security). Ashford University pursues a policy of immunity for students who offer help to others in need for any minor violations the Good Samaritan was involved in at the time.
Ashford University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations. The University may also notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under age 21 of alcohol and/or drug policy violations. Where a student is non-dependent, Ashford University will contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a health and/or safety risk. Ashford University also reserves the right to designate which University officials have a need to know about individual conduct complaints pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Notification of Outcomes
The outcome of a Student Community Standards hearing is part of the education record of any student personally identified, and is protected from release under FERPA, a federal law. However, Ashford University observes the following legal exceptions:
- Complainants and accused in sexual misconduct and sexual harassment incidents have a right to be informed of the outcome and sanctions of the hearing, in writing, without condition or limitation, and to be kept apprised of the status of investigations;
- The University may release the final results of a disciplinary proceeding in which a student who is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense, is found in violation of the University’s Student Community Standards. A crime of violence includes arson, burglary, robbery, criminal homicide (manslaughter by negligence, murder, and non-negligent manslaughter), forcible sex offenses, assault, destruction/damage/vandalism of property and kidnapping/abduction. The University may not disclose the name of any other student, including the victim or witness, without the prior written consent of the other student. The University will also release this information to the complainant in any of these offenses regardless of the outcome;
- In the event that the alleged victim is deceased as a result of the crime or offense, the notification will be made to next of kin (upon written request).
Remedy of the effect of a sexual offense may include changes to the academic and residential housing of the complainant.
It has become common for students accused of policy violations to try to defend their actions with excuses, such as prescription drug interactions, self-defense, alcohol, etc. Defending actions is admitting to a policy violation. While a student’s defense will not excuse his or her actions, Ashford University will take the legitimacy of his or her defense into consideration in addressing the proper sanction.
Students are cautioned that behavior conducted online, such as harassment delivered by email, can subject them to University conduct action, if there is a University impact from the cyber-conduct. Students must also be aware that blogs, web pages, social media websites, and similar online communications are in the public sphere, and are not private. These postings can subject a student to allegations of conduct violations, if evidence of policy violations is posted online. The University does not regularly go hunting for this information, but will take action if and when such information is brought to the attention of University officials.
Ashford University is committed to fostering a campus and online environment that is conducive to academic inquiry, productive campus life, thoughtful study and discourse. A community exists on the basis of shared values and principles. At Ashford University, student members of the community are expected to uphold and abide by certain standards of conduct that form the basis of these Student Community Standards. These standards are embodied within a set of core values that include integrity, fairness, respect, community and responsibility. When members of the community fail to exemplify these values, campus conduct proceedings are used to assert and uphold the Student Community Standards.
The student conduct process at Ashford University is not intended to punish students. Rather, it exists to protect the interests of the community, and to challenge those whose behavior is not in accordance with the Standards. Sanctions are intended to challenge students’ moral and ethical decision-making and to help them bring their behavior into accord with University community expectations. When a student is unable to conform his or her behavior to community expectations, the student conduct process may determine that he or she should no longer share in the privilege of participating in this community.
Students should be aware that the student conduct process is quite different from criminal and civil court proceedings. Procedures and rights in student conduct proceedings are conducted with fairness to all, but do not include the same protections of due process afforded by the courts. Fair process, within these procedures, assures written notice and a hearing before an objective decision-maker. It assures that no student will be found in violation of University policy without evidence showing that it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred, and that any sanction will be proportionate to the severity of the violation. The subsequent standards offer a set of rules governing student conduct. Following the Standards are policies that amplify and expand on the rules, followed by a set of procedures used to uphold and enforce the Standards.
Any student or alumnus found to have committed the following misconduct is subject to the sanctions outlined in the following. Unacceptable conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Ashford University students exemplify honesty, integrity and a respect for truth in all of their dealings. Behavior that demonstrates a lapse of integrity includes, but is not limited to:
- Knowingly furnishing false, falsified, or forged information to any member of the University community, such as falsification or misuse of documents, accounts, records, identification, or financial instruments;
- Selling or otherwise providing course work, including exams, papers, and projects to third parties, which may be used for submission in fulfillment of any course or academic program requirement.
- Acts of academic dishonesty, as defined in this Catalog;
- Unauthorized possession, duplication, or use of means of access (keys, cards, etc.) to any University building;
- Unauthorized possession, duplication, or use of Course Material Benefits other than the sole intended eligible recipient;
- Action or inaction by someone in collusion with a wrongdoer which fails to discourage a known and obvious violation of University policy or law;
- Violations of positions of trust or authority within the community;
- Tampering with the election of any University recognized student organization.
Ashford University students honor and value their community. Behavior that violates this value includes, but is not limited to:
- Misuse of access privileges to University premises or unauthorized entry to or use of buildings, including trespass;
- Misuse or unauthorized use of University or organizational names and images;
- Knowingly taking possession of stolen property;
- Intentional and unauthorized taking of the property of the University or personal property of a member of the University community which is on campus;
- Intentional and unauthorized destruction or damage to University property or to the property of another;
- Misuse of University computing facilities, as described in this Catalog;
- Electronic Mail Abuse, as described in this Catalog;
- Sharing with others or taking from others, passwords to University issued email accounts, student portal, online learning platform, etc.;
- Possession of firearms, simulated weapons, fireworks, explosives, other weapons (including, but not limited to BB/pellet guns, slingshots, and sharp edged instruments, such as hatchets when used as weapons), or dangerous chemicals while on campus, unless properly authorized by the University President or VP/Campus Director;
- Violation of state, local, or campus fire policies, including:
- Failure to evacuate a University-owned building during a fire alarm;
- Improper use of University fire safety equipment; and
- Tampering with or improperly engaging a fire alarm in a University building.
Ashford University students exemplify fair treatment of each other in their dealings and interactions. Behavior that violates this value includes, but is not limited to:
- Disruption of University operations, including obstruction of teaching, research, administration, other University activities, or other authorized non-University activities which occur on campus or online;
- Obstruction of freedom of movement by community members or visitors;
- Abuse, interference or failing to comply in University processes including Student Community Standards hearings;
- Abuse of the University conduct system, including:
- Failure to attend meetings scheduled for conduct code administration purposes;
- Falsification, distortion, or misrepresentation of information;
- Failure to provide, destroying, or hiding information during an investigation of an alleged policy violation;
- Attempting to discourage an individual’s proper participation in, or use of, the University conduct system;
- Harassment (verbal or physical) and/or intimidation of a member of a University conduct body prior to, during, and/or after a University conduct proceeding;
- Failure to comply with the sanction(s) imposed by the University conduct system;
- Influencing or attempting to influence another person to commit an abuse of the University conduct system.
Ashford University students show respect for each other, for property, and for the community. Behavior that violates this value includes, but is not limited to:
- Threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal abuse, or any other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person;
- Discrimination, intimidation, discriminatory harassment (as defined in this Catalog);
- Hazing (as defined in this Catalog);
- Violence between those in an intimate relationship to each other;
- Stalking, defined as repetitive, menacing pursuit, following, harassment and/or interference with the peace and/or safety of a member of the community; or the safety of any of the immediate family of members of the community.
- Sexual misconduct (as defined in this Catalog), including:
- sexual harassment
- non-consensual sexual contact
- non-consensual sexual intercourse
- sexual exploitation
- intimate partner violence (IPV)
- Inappropriate conduct which is disorderly, disruptive, obscene, or indecent while on campus or at functions sponsored by, or participated in by, the University or while engaged in any form of communication with members of the University community;
- Failure to comply with directions of University officials or law enforcement officers during the performance of their duties and/or failure to identify oneself to these persons when requested to do so;
- Smoking in any University building or campus area designated as non-smoking.
Ashford University Students are given and accept a high level of responsibility as role models. Behavior that violates this value includes, but is not limited to:
- Use, possession, manufacture, or distribution of alcoholic beverages on campus
- Use, possession, or distribution of narcotic, or other controlled substances, as well as drug paraphernalia, except as expressly permitted by law; (Please see the full policy in this Catalog);
- Abuse or misuse of prescriptions or over-the-counter medications;
- Assisting in the violation of University policies or public laws;
- Allegations of violations of federal, state, or local laws which affect the interests of the University community, whether on or off-campus;
- The knowing failure of any organized group to exercise preventive measures relative to violations of this Student Community Standards by members;
- Violation of other published University policies, rules, or policies;
- Intentionally or recklessly causing a fire which damages University or personal property, or which causes injury to any member of the community;
- Littering and posting of notices in non-designated spaces or without approval from the appropriate University personnel and unauthorized distribution or sale of goods on campus;
- Violation of University traffic and parking regulations;
- Leaving children or animals unattended on campus;
- Use of bicycles, skateboards, roller blades, and any other non-motorized vehicle or equipment (except wheelchairs) outside designated areas.
Electronic Mail: The following uses of University electronic mail are prohibited.
- Personal use that creates a direct cost for the University;
- Use for personal monetary gain or for commercial purposes that are not directly related to University business;
- Sending copies of documents in violation of copyright laws;
- Inclusion of the work of others into electronic mail communications in violation of copyright laws;
- Use of electronic mail to substantially disrupt the ability of others to conduct University business;
- Use of electronic mail systems for any purpose restricted or prohibited by laws or regulations;
- “Spoofing,” (i.e., constructing an electronic mail communication so it appears to be from someone else);
- “Snooping,” (i.e., obtaining access to the files or electronic mail of others for the purpose of satisfying idle curiosity, with no substantial University business purpose); or,
- Attempting unauthorized access to electronic mail or attempting to violate any security measures on any electronic mail system, or attempting to intercept any electronic mail transmissions without proper authorization.
Personal Electronic Mail for Ashford University Students:
Students are responsible for any and all activity and communication that takes place using the electronic mail account registered with the University. The University issues an email account to on-campus students. The University highly encourages online students to create a personal, unshared email address for communication with the University.
Online Communication: Written communication in an online community is an extremely important factor in online educational programs. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is crucial to the success of all online learning programs. Professional language relevant to the course content should be used in the online discussion postings. Students are expected to follow the rules of Netiquette, as posted in their online courses. The following are examples of behaviors that could substantially disrupt the online learning environment and will not be tolerated:
Discrimination: Derogatory statements that are based upon an individual’s actual or perceived sex, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, marital status, age, physical disability, mental disability, genetic information, medical condition (including certain cancer-related conditions and genetic characteristics), gender identity, veteran status, service in the uniformed services, political activities and affiliations, or any other consideration protected by law that is sufficiently serious that it interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program.
Solicitation: It is against policy and inappropriate for students to use the communication channels within the online learning platform to solicit other users for personal or professional reasons. Students may not send emails to classmates or post messages that attempt to sell products, promote business, or solicit employees.
Misuse of Technology Resources: University technology resources are to be used to advance the University’s mission of education, scholarship, and service. Students may use these resources for purposes related to their studies or research or other University-sanctioned activities. These resources include, but are not limited to, hardware (including telephones, computers, and traditional media equipment) either owned or leased by the University, software, and consulting time (and expertise) of the Information Technology Services or other University technology support staff. The use of technology resources provided by the University for commercial or other purposes not directly related to study, research, or University-sanctioned activities should be considered as secondary activities (i.e., personal or otherwise). Should such secondary activity in any way interfere with primary activities, the secondary activity must be terminated immediately.
Many of the University’s technology resources are shared among the entire University community. The use of these resources will not violate law or the rights of others. Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to:
- Activities that violate copyright or other intellectual property rights of others, including but not limited to, the infringing use of peer-to-peer file sharing services;
- Sending copies of documents in violation of copyright laws via electronic mail or any other electronic transmission;
- Inclusion of the work of others into electronic mail communications or any other electronic transmission in violation of copyright laws;
- Activities that obstruct usage or deny access to technology resources;
- Activities that could be considered as discriminatory harassment, libel or obscenity;
- Activities that substantially disrupt University activities;
- Activities that violate University policies;
- Activities that violate local, state, or federal laws;
- Unauthorized use of computer accounts;
- Impersonating other individuals;
- Attempts to exploit or explore security provisions, either at the University or elsewhere;
- Activities that invade the right to privacy of others;
- Destruction or alteration of data belonging to others;
- Creating, using or distributing computer viruses;
- Allowing other individuals to use your account or password, including for the purpose of meeting attendance requirements in an online class;
- Disruption or unauthorized monitoring of electronic communications or of computer accounts; and
- Inappropriate/widespread email distribution.
The following policies expand on the expectations of the Standards described previously.
This Academic Integrity policy covers current students and conduct in which alumni engaged while enrolled. The University may address allegations of academic misconduct after a student has graduated and will process allegations concerning alumni in the same manner it addresses allegations concerning current students. All sanctions that could be applied to a current student could be applied to an alumnus, and the University reserves the right to rescind a previously conferred degree where the Student Community Standards Committee deems this an appropriate sanction. All references to "student" in the Academic Integrity Policy section of this Catalog refer to current students, students no longer in attendance, and alumni.
Ashford University students will pursue learning with rigorous academic integrity. Ashford University defines academic dishonesty as deceitful and/or deceptive attempts to fulfill academic requirements. While plagiarism is the most common form of academic dishonesty, cheating or furnishing fabricated or false information to Ashford University officials and/or faculty (such as lying to effect a grade change) are also acts of academic dishonesty prohibited by the Student Community Standards.
As part of the University’s policy on academic integrity, it is expected that students will not submit an assignment that is an exact copy of work previously submitted in another course at any institution. The University understands that work within a discipline is interconnected and expects students, when writing about similar topics, to enhance and refine the content of an assignment as they progress through their program of study. It is not acceptable under any circumstance to submit the exact same paper without enhancing or refining the concepts contained in the assignment. Submitting an exact copy of work previously submitted in another course may affect one’s grade adversely or considered a violation of the Student Community Standard of Integrity.
Academic dishonesty is a serious offense at the University because it undermines the bonds of trust and personal responsibility between and among students and faculty, weakens the credibility of the academic enterprise, and defrauds those who believe in the value and integrity of the degree. Ashford University will consider the cumulative record of any student with respect to academic integrity violations, regardless of the student’s current academic program or status. For example, violations of the academic integrity policy while an undergraduate, but not discovered until the student is enrolled in an Ashford graduate program, will be addressed during the student’s graduate program. This may result in sanctions, a change in the student’s eligibility status for his or her graduate enrollment, and/or impact retroactively on the student’s fulfillment of all undergraduate program requirements. Academic dishonesty may take several forms:
Cheating: Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise (e.g., test, essay, etc.).
Fabrication: Intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise.
Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: Intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another student to commit a violation of academic integrity.
Plagiarism: Representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own in any academic exercise. This definition includes draft assignments that are submitted and graded as a part of the curriculum. Plagiarism occurs when a student deliberately uses the ideas, language, or another writer’s original material (that is not common knowledge) without acknowledging the source. The use of materials, including printed or online texts, as well as the work of others, can be considered plagiarism when presented as one’s own work. Plagiarizing denies the student the powerful opportunity to develop as an ethical and conscientious human being. Herein rests the greatest reason not to plagiarize.
Acts of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:
- Copying text from printed materials, which include books, magazines, encyclopedias, newspapers, etc.;
- The modification of text with the intent of changing verbiage, changing words, or interspacing the student’s work into the plagiarized work;
- “Copy and paste” plagiarism, which involves copying and pasting materials from Internet sources and presenting them as one’s original work;
- The use and representation of another student’s work as one’s own, even if the student has the permission of the other student. The use of another’s work constitutes an act of collusion, which constitutes an act of plagiarism;
- The use of materials purchased from Internet or other outside sources; or
- Paraphrasing or summarizing another’s work without giving appropriate credit.
Common Knowledge vs. Plagiarism: Some students have the mistaken notion that they must give credit to a source only when they use a direct quotation. Paraphrasing (putting ideas into your own words) or changing a word or two in a source does not relieve the student of responsibility to credit the source. If an idea is not the student’s own, he or she must cite the source in the text of the paper and at the end of the paper as a reference. The only exception to this rule is if the idea the student uses is common knowledge. Facts that are common knowledge will generally be known by many people and can easily be found or referenced. Common knowledge facts (e.g., that Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968) do not need to be documented. However, students must reference lesser-known ideas and interpretations of common knowledge (e.g., a press release defense attorney Lawrence Teeter issued regarding the possible innocence of Sirhan Sirhan, the accused assassin of Robert Kennedy).
Avoiding Plagiarism: Address any questions regarding plagiarism to the course instructor. Students should be aware that Ashford University instructors utilize anti-plagiarism resources to determine the originality of submitted written work. These tools compare students’ work with texts available in internal databases and through Internet searches.
Consequences for Academic Dishonesty
A student who commits an act of academic dishonesty may face disciplinary action, including but not limited to: failure to receive credit on an academic exercise, course failure, and/or dismissal from the University. Ashford University may also extend its jurisdiction to misconduct that occurs prior to, but not reported until after the graduation of the offending student. There is no time limit on reporting violations of the Academic Integrity policy
Instructors or other University staff may report instances of academic dishonesty to the Academic Resolution Department (online modality) or the College Dean (campus modality), or designee; the student will receive a notice informing him or her of the offense, as well as any resulting disciplinary action(s). Academic Integrity violations are adjudicated by the Academic Resolution Administrators (online) and by the College Dean (campus).
If it is determined that a student is found responsible for violating the Academic Dishonesty policy, and a singular violation is egregious, or there are multiple instances of academic dishonesty violations, the student issue will be referred to the Student Affairs department to review for the possibility of sanctioning up to and including removal from the University.
The student may be asked to meet for either an informal hearing or a Formal Hearing (Students Community Standards Committee). Student Affairs will not reconsider the issue of student responsibility as determined by the Academic Resolution Department (online modality) or the College Dean (campus modality), but will only determine appropriate sanctions to be applied, up to and including, removal from the University.
Conspiracy to Commit Fraud against the University
Ashford University students are expected to exemplify honesty, integrity and a respect for truth in all of their dealings. Fraudulent behavior or attempts to commit fraudulent behavior will not be tolerated. Behavior that demonstrates fraudulent activity includes but is not limited to:
- Knowingly furnishing false, falsified, or forged information to any member of the University Community, such as falsification or misuse of documents, accounts, records, identification or financial instruments;
- Acts of academic dishonesty, as defined in this Catalog; or
- Action or inaction by someone in collusion with a wrongdoer which fails to discourage a known and obvious violation of University policy or law.
When members of groups, individuals acting in collusion, or members of an organization act in concert in violation of this policy, they may be held accountable as a group. To prevent fraud, the Director of Student Affairs may, in lieu of Student Community Standards proceedings, impose individual and/or group sanctions up to and including immediate expulsion from the University, subject to appeal, upon a determination of student involvement in such behavior. Determinations will be made with respect to the involvement of each accused individual. In most circumstances, Ashford University will treat attempts to commit any of the violations listed previously as if those attempts had been completed.
Office of Inspector General Referrals
Ashford University must refer to the Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) any credible information indicating that an applicant for Federal Student Aid or an administrator of Federal Student Aid may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with the Federal Student Aid programs.
Common misconduct includes false claims of independent student status, false claims of citizenship, use of false identities, forgery of signatures of certifications, and false statements of income. Remember that fraud is the intent to deceive as opposed to a mistake. If you suspect such intent on the part of a student or administration, report it to the OIG by phoning 1-800-MISUSED.
Students are expected to abide by all federal, state, and local laws prohibiting illegal gambling, including online gaming. Gambling for money or other things of value on campus or at University-sponsored activities is prohibited except as permitted by law.
Such prohibited activity includes, but is not limited to, betting on, wagering on, or selling pools on any University athletic event; possessing on one’s person or premises (e.g., room, residence unit, car) any card, book, or other device for registering bets; knowingly permitting the use of one’s premises or one’s telephone or other electronic communications device for illegal gambling; knowingly receiving or delivering a letter, package, or parcel related to illegal gambling; offering, soliciting, or accepting a bribe to influence the outcome of an athletic event; and, involvement in bookmaking or wagering pools with respect to sporting events.
All acts of hazing by any individual student and University registered student club or organization and any of its members or alumni are prohibited. Students are entitled to be treated with consideration and respect, and no individual may perform an act that is likely to cause physical or psychological harm or social ostracism to any other person within the University community. Accordingly, the following behavior is expressly forbidden as hazing when related to the admission, initiation, pledging, joining, or any other group-affiliation activity:
- Physical abuse (on or off campus), including but not limited to paddling, slapping, kicking, choking, scratching and exposure to extreme (i.e., cold or hot) water temperatures, the consumption of disgusting and/or dangerous concoctions, alcohol, or drugs;
- Causing excessive mental stress, including but not limited to placing prospective members of an organization or group in ambiguous situations which lead to confusion and emotional stress, sleep deprivation;
- Extreme verbal abuse, including but not limited to shouting, screaming, or use of derogatory, profane, or obscene language; or
- Subservience, including but not limited to any activity which promotes a class system within organizations or activities which facilitate inappropriate levels of authority over students.
This list is not exhaustive and any student or organization found to be involved in any hazing activity will face conduct action and will likely be subjected to expulsion from the University. Violation of this policy exists irrespective of the voluntary or consensual participation in the hazing activity by the person being hazed.
Any misrepresentation, theft, or misuse of a person’s identity for any purpose, including but not limited to, obtaining federal financial aid, other financial gain, or obtaining access to confidential information. Identity theft is not only a violation of University policy and the Student Community Standards, but may also constitute a criminal offense under federal and state law. Ashford University recognizes the importance of protecting student privacy and reserves the right to request documentation to establish or verify any student’s identity at any time, for administrative and/or compliance purposes. Students are expected to provide such documentation and are responsible for any cost associated with acquiring and submitting the documentation. Students may be placed on Administrative Class Leave and be administratively withdrawn for failure to provide documentation requested by University officials for the purpose of authenticating a student’s identity. The University may also deny or rescind admission to any student for failure to authenticate his or her identity, or for engaging in identity theft.
Online Netiquette Rules
Written communication in an online community is an extremely important factor in all online educational programs. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is crucial to the success of all online learning programs. Ashford University has taken special steps to maintain this type of online etiquette (Netiquette).
Instructors and Students in an Online Community should be:
Considerate: Students should treat each other with respect and should take time to read and respond to each other in such a way that a learning environment can continue to develop. Students should format postings so that everyone can learn from an individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities.
Encouraging: Not everyone has had previous online experience. Some students may spend more time observing (reading other students’ postings, remaining invisible for some time) than others. Notice the habits of other students and classmates and provide encouragement for creative and critical conversation.
Helpful: Even a well-presented course can create some confusion. It is very easy to lose a place or miss reading information on certain links or pages. When other students are lost, offer a helping hand by pointing them in the right online direction so they can regain their confidence in online learning.
Aware: Be aware that the written word is the only form of communication in an asynchronous learning environment. Use words carefully – if a comment could possibly be interpreted as insulting, disrespectful, discriminating, mocking, or rude, students should choose other wording.
The following behaviors should be avoided:
Shouting: Using all capital letters when communicating in an online environment is known as shouting. This usage is considered a rude method of communicating. Avoid using all capital letters in online communications.
Impatience: Once a student has posted a question or concern to their instructor, students should wait patiently for a reply.
Prescription Drug Policy
The distribution, sale to others, or use of prescription medication for other than its prescribed use by the individual for whom it was prescribed is a violation of University policy and state law.
Ashford University believes in a zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct. Members of the Ashford University community, guests and visitors have the right to be free from sexual violence. When an allegation of sexual misconduct is brought to the administration, and a respondent is found to have violated this policy, serious sanctions will be used to ensure that such actions are never repeated. All members of the community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others. The Ashford University Sexual Misconduct Policy has been developed to reaffirm these principles and to provide recourse for those individuals whose rights have been violated. This policy has dual purposes. It serves as a measure for the University to determine, after the fact, if behaviors trespass on community values. It also should serve as a guide for students on the expectations the University has, preventatively, for sexual communication, sexual responsibility, and sexual respect.
For student complaints governed by Title IX (sexual misconduct, sexual violence, sexual harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence, etc.), the Student Dispute Resolution Center has jurisdiction over all phases of investigations for all online and campus-based complaints. In these instances, the Student Dispute Resolution Center has authority to enforce policies under the Student Community Standards. The Conduct Administrator or designee has responsibility for conducting hearings on contested investigation findings, for determining sanctions, and for implementing sanctions under the Student Community Standards.
SEXUAL MISCONDUCT OFFENSES INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
- Sexual Harassment
- Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse (or attempts to commit same)
- Non-Consensual Sexual Contact (or attempts to commit same)
- Sexual Exploitation
- Intimate Partner Violence
Gender-based verbal or physical conduct that has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment.
Three Types of Sexual Harassment
- Hostile Environment includes any situation in which there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive/persistent and patently offensive so that it alters the conditions of education or employment, from both a subjective (the alleged victim’s) and an objective (reasonable person’s) viewpoint. The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” must be based on all of the circumstances. These circumstances could include:
- the frequency of the conduct;
- the nature and severity of the conduct;
- whether the conduct was physically threatening;
- whether the conduct was humiliating;
- the effect of the conduct on the alleged victim’s mental or emotional state;
- whether the conduct was directed at more than one person;
- whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct;
- whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the alleged
- victim’s educational or work performance; or
- whether the statement is a mere utterance of an epithet which engenders offense in an employee or student, or offends by mere discourtesy or rudeness;
- whether the speech or conduct deserves the protections of free expression or academic freedom.
2. Quid pro quo sexual harassment exists when there are:
- unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; and
- submission to or rejection of such conduct results in adverse educational or employment action.
- The University will sanction a faculty, student, or staff member who takes adverse action against a person because of the person’s participation in or support of an investigation of discrimination or sexual misconduct. Adverse action includes, but is not limited to, threats, harassment, intimidation (implied threats) or actual violence against the person or his or her property, adverse educational or employment consequences, ridicule, taunting, bullying, or ostracism.
Not all workplace or educational conduct that may be described as “harassment” affects the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment or education. For example, a mere utterance of an ethnic, gender-based, or racial epithet which creates offensive feelings in an employee or student would not normally affect the terms and conditions of their employment or education.
NON-CONSENSUAL SEXUAL INTERCOURSE
Any sexual intercourse (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, without effective consent.
NON-CONSENSUAL SEXUAL CONTACT
Any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, without effective consent.
Occurs when a student takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his or her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:
- prostituting another student;
- non-consensual video or audio-taping of sexual activity;
- going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting your friends hide in the closet to watch you having consensual sex);
- engaging in voyeurism;
- knowingly transmitting an STI or HIV to another student.
The requirements of this policy are blind to the sexual orientation or gender identity of individuals engaging in sexual activity.
INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE
Intimate partner violence (IPV), also referred to as domestic violence, is violence committed by a current or former partner or spouse. It can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy between the current or former partners/spouses. The violence can be physical, sexual and/or psychological in nature and includes threats of physical or sexual violence. The conduct can vary in frequency and severity.
Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Non-Consensual Sexual Contact (where no intercourse has occurred) will likely receive a sanction ranging from warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous violations in Student Community Standards.
Specific information regarding hearing procedures is detailed in the section titled Special Procedural Provisions for Sexual Misconduct and Other Sensitive Issues of this Catalog.
Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse will likely face a recommended sanction of suspension or expulsion.
Any student found responsible for violating the policy on sexual exploitation or sexual harassment will likely receive a recommended sanction ranging from warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous violations in Student Community Standards.
SEXUAL MISCONDUCT CONFIDENTIALITY AND REPORTING POLICY
Different people at the University have different reporting responsibilities, and different abilities to maintain a student’s confidentiality, depending on their roles at the University. When consulting University resources, victims should be aware of confidential and mandatory reporting options, in order to make informed choices. At the University, some resources may maintain a student’s complete confidentiality, offering him or her options and advice without any obligation to tell anyone, unless he or she wants them to. Other resources are expressly there for students to report crimes and policy violations, and they will take action when a student reports his or her victimization to them. Most resources at the University fall in the middle of these two extremes. Neither the University nor the law requires them to divulge private information that a student shares with them, except in extremely rare circumstances, described subsequently. Students may seek assistance from them without starting a chain of events that takes things out of the student’s control, or violates his or her privacy.
To Report Confidentially
If a student desires that details of the incident be kept confidential, he or she should speak with counselors contracted through the Wellness Corporation (campus students only), or off-campus rape crisis resources, who will maintain confidentiality. Counselors are available to help students free of charge, and can be seen on an emergency basis (campus students only).
A student can seek advice from certain resources that are not required to tell anyone else his or her private, personally identifiable information unless there is cause for fear for his or her safety, or the safety of others. These resources include those without supervisory responsibility or remedial authority to address sexual misconduct, such as faculty members, advisors to student organizations, career services staff, admissions officers, student activities personnel, and many others. If a student is unsure of someone’s duties and ability to maintain his or her privacy, he or she should ask them before talking to them. They will be able to tell him or her, and help make decisions about who can help the student best. Some of these resources, such as faculty members, are instructed to share incident reports with their supervisors, but they do not share any personally identifiable information about a report unless the student gives permission, except in the rare event that the incident reveals a need to protect the student or other members of the community. If the student’s personally identifiable information is shared, it will be shared with as few people as possible, and all efforts will be made to protect his or her confidentiality to the greatest extent.
Non-Confidential Reporting Options
Students are encouraged to speak to officials of the institution to make formal reports of incidents (deans, vice presidents, or other administrators with supervisory responsibilities, campus security, and human resources). Students have the right and can expect to have incidents of sexual misconduct to be taken seriously by the University when formally reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through administrative procedures. Formal reporting does not mean that the student’s report will not be confidential, but it does mean that people who need to know will be told, and information will be shared as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused. The circle of people will be kept as tight as possible, to preserve the student’s rights and privacy.
Special Procedural Provisions for Sexual Misconduct and Other Sensitive Issues
- Attempted Violations. In most circumstances, Ashford University will treat attempts to commit any of the violations listed in the Student Community Standards as if those attempts had been completed.
- University as Complainant. As necessary, Ashford University reserves the right to initiate a complaint, to serve as complainant, and to initiate conduct proceedings without a formal complaint by the victim of misconduct.
- False Reporting. Ashford University will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents. It is a violation of the Student Community Standards to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.
- Group Action. When members of groups, individuals acting collusively, or members of an organization act in concert in violation of any policy, they may be held accountable as a group, and a hearing may proceed against the group as joint accused students.
- Amnesty Policy. Ashford University encourages the reporting of crimes by victims and/or witnesses. Sometimes, victims and/or witnesses are hesitant to report to University officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. It is in the best interests of this community that as many victims and/or witnesses as possible choose to report to University officials. To encourage reporting, Ashford University pursues a policy of offering victims and/or witnesses of crimes immunity from policy violations related to the incident, as long as those policy violations are not directly related to the crime itself. For example, if a student reported a rape in which he or she was involved as a perpetrator, he or she would not be immune from policy violations.
- Notice of When Complaint is Delivered to Accused Student. Complainants are notified as to when notice of the complaint is delivered to the accused student, so as to protect themselves from potential retaliation.
- No-Contact Order. Students are entitled to seek a no-contact order that imposes reasonable restrictions on student contact during and potentially after campus conduct proceedings.
- Right to a Closed Hearing. In sensitive issues, such as stalking, violence, and sexual misconduct, all hearings will be closed to the public, and only those who have a legitimate reason to be present will be permitted to be present.
- Right to a Prompt Process and Hearing. Sexual misconduct complaints may be fast-tracked to ensure that Ashford University provides a prompt response.
- Advisor/Advocate/Presence of Others. All parties to sexual misconduct complaints have the right to an advisor/advocate from the community. Any advisors from outside the community must be pre-approved by the Conduct Administrator or designee. The accuser and the accused are entitled to the same opportunity to have other persons present during a disciplinary hearing, who may not be advisors or advocates.
- List of Witnesses and Copies of Documentary Evidence. University procedures may call for an exchange of information between the parties in advance of the hearing, including an exchange of the complaint and answer, witness lists, and other written statements that may be available.
- Sexual History/Character. All parties to a complaint have a right not to face questions or discussion of their sexual history or character unless the hearing chair or administrative hearing officer determines that such information is highly relevant to determining whether the policy has been violated.
- Separate Testimony Options. Any complainant can request to give his or her testimony via alternate means to being in the physical presence of the person he or she has accused. Telephony, screens, and closed-circuit broadcasts may be permitted, but not to the disadvantage of the accused student.
- Right to be Present for Entire Proceeding. Each party has the right to be present for all testimony and questioning. Only deliberation is conducted in closed-session without the parties present. If findings and sanctions are presented orally at the end of the hearing, the complainant is permitted to be present.
- Right to Present Own Complaint or Use Proxy. The alleged victim has the right to present his or her own complaint if he or she wants to, or to ask the University to stand as complainant in his or her place.
- Right to Know Outcome and Sanctions. Whether in writing or informed orally, the complainant and the accuser have the right to know the outcome and sanctions of the hearing.
- Right to be Informed of Appeal Status. The parties will be informed by the Conduct Administrator or designee if any of the parties to the complaint requests an appeal.
- In any complaint where there is a finding of violation of the sexual misconduct policy, the sanctioning, in addition to standard sanctioning principles, will be guided by the following goals to:
- Ensure that the discriminatory conduct is brought to an end;
- Make reasonable efforts to prevent the reoccurrence of the discriminatory conduct in the future;
- Restore the victim, as much as possible, to his or her pre-deprivation status and undo the effects of gender-based discrimination upon him or her. Changes to academic and/or residential living situations may be made.
Student Community Standards Procedures
Whenever a complaint is made for alleged misconduct or a Student Community Standard appears to be violated, the Conduct Administrator or designee will conduct an investigation of the allegations as soon as possible (generally, for offenses against the academic community, the President will designate the Vice President of Academic Services (online) or designee). The Conduct Administrator or designee may make any necessary modification to these procedures that does not materially jeopardize the fairness owed to any party.
Administrative Class Leave
Students who are placed on Administrative Class Leave are administratively withdrawn from the University, until such time that their identity is authenticated. Students seeking to re-enroll in the University following Administrative Class Leave will be required to provide the necessary verification of identity prior to reapplying and may be subject to student conduct sanctions dependent upon the circumstances surrounding their failure to authenticate identity in a timely manner. The University may also deny or rescind admission to any student who fails to verify his or her identity or if the University determines to have engaged in identity related fraud or theft.
Emergency Administrative Leave
In situations requiring immediate action, and after consultation with concerned individuals (e.g., students, faculty, administrators, other staff members, internship, or student teaching supervisors, etc.), the Conduct Administrator or designee may place the student on an emergency administrative leave. Students placed on Emergency Administrative Leave are removed from all current and future courses.
During Emergency Administrative Leave, the University administration will conduct a timely investigation. Students will remain on an administrative leave no more than 14 days from the student’s last date of attendance. Within that 14-day period, the University administration will follow University procedures for administration of the Student Community Standards and render a decision as to any change in status and/or and sanctions to be imposed by the University. Students on Emergency Administrative Leave are not permitted to return to campus or to participate in University classes or events.
Notice of Complaint
Once a determination is made that reasonable cause exists for the Conduct Administrator or designee to investigate and process a complaint, notice will be given to the accused student. Notice will be in writing, and may be delivered in person during a meeting with the Conduct Administrator or designee or via email. Email is considered an official form of University-related communication.
Once emailed, such notice will be presumptively delivered when an email is sent. If a student is under the age of eighteen (18) years, a copy of the notice will be sent to the parents or guardian of the student.
The letter of notice will state briefly a description of the incident alleged, as well as stating all policies the accused student is alleged to have violated and the possible consequences if the accused student is found in violation. The letter of notice will direct the accused student to contact the Conduct Administrator or designee within two business days (Monday through Friday) of receipt to respond to the complaint.
The failure of a student to acknowledge the notice within two (2) business days will result in an administrative hold on the student’s account. This administrative hold will remove the student from all future scheduled courses and prevent transcripts from being issued. The hold will not be lifted until the student participates in either an informal or formal hearing and the Student Community Standards proceedings for the student are closed.
Within the two business day period, the accused student may pose any questions about the charges or process to the Office of Student Affairs, and at that time or before, will respond to the charge in writing and may indicate to the Conduct Administrator or designee whether he or she admits or denies the allegations of the complaint. If the accused student admits the violation(s), an informal hearing will be held and the Conduct Administrator or designee will impose appropriate sanctions. Such a disposition will be final and there will be no subsequent proceedings, unless the sanctions include suspension or expulsion. In that case, the accused student may request a hearing by the Student Community Standards Committee on the issue of sanctions, only, or can choose to accept the sanctions imposed by Conduct Administrator or designee during the informal hearing.
Ashford University divides complaints into minor and serious violations. Generally, with the exception of Academic Integrity violations, any misconduct that will result in less than separation is considered minor, and any misconduct that is likely to result in suspension or expulsion is considered serious. If the student accepts responsibility for the violation(s), prior to the hearing, whether minor or serious, the complaint will be resolved in an informal hearing, as previously described. If the student does not accept responsibility, minor complaints will be referred for an informal hearing, and more serious complaints will be referred to the Student Community Standards Committee for a formal hearing (see subsequent details on the proceedings of this committee). The Conduct Administrator or designee has discretion to determine the severity of the alleged violation(s), and whether informal or formal hearing procedures will apply.
Decisions made by the Student Community Standards Committee or the Conduct Administrator or designee will be final, and sanctions implemented, pending the normal appeal process, described subsequently. The Conduct Administrator or designee has the authority to stay implementation of sanctions pending the appeal, at his or her discretion.
Informal Hearings Procedures
For hearing procedures relating to matters involving sexual misconduct or other sensitive issues, please see Special Procedural Provisions for Sexual Misconduct and Other Sensitive Issues located in this section of the Catalog. For minor violations (or admitted serious violations), the Conduct Administrator or designee will, upon receipt of a written response from the accused student, schedule a hearing.
- Informal hearings will be heard by the Conduct Administrator or designee and will be non-adversarial and conversational in nature.
- Written notice of the time, date, and location of the hearing will be sent to the accused student at least two (2) business days prior to the informal hearing date and time. The accused student may additionally be notified in person, by telephone, or by email. Students may waive the two (2) day notice requirement if they prefer an expedited hearing.
- If a student fails to attend a scheduled hearing, the hearing may proceed as scheduled, and the Conduct Administrator or designee will make a determination on the basis of the evidence available at the hearing. If appropriate, sanctions will be implemented. A student may not avoid the impositions of sanctions by withdrawing with conduct charges pending. The hearing will still proceed, and any finding of a violation will result in a “WF” grade and other appropriate transcript notation. The conduct administrator may also impose an administrative hold on the student’s account in addition to or in lieu of resolving the charges in the student’s absence. This administrative hold will remove the student from all future scheduled courses and prevent transcripts from being issued. The hold will not be lifted until the student participates in either an informal or formal hearing and the Student Community Standards proceedings for the student are closed.
- At the informal hearing, witnesses and admissibility of information will be determined at the discretion of the Conduct Administrator or designee. The informal hearing will consist mainly of informal questioning and discussion of the alleged incident.
- After the informal hearing, the Conduct Administrator or designee will deliberate and determine whether it is more likely than not that the student has violated the Student Community Standards. Once a finding is determined, if that finding is that of a policy violation, the Conduct Administrator or designee will determine an appropriate sanction. The Conduct Administrator or designee will prepare a written finding, which will be shared with the accused student no later than two (2) business days following the hearing.
Student Community Standards Committee Formal Hearing Procedures
For hearing procedures relating to matters involving sexual misconduct or other sensitive issues, please see Special Procedural Provisions for Sexual Misconduct and Other Sensitive Issues in this section of the Catalog.
Written notice of the time, date, and location of the formal hearing will be sent to all parties, who may additionally be notified in person, by telephone, or by email.
The Conduct Administrator or designee will name a Student Community Standards Committee to conduct a formal hearing to review complaints. The Student Community Standards Committee will consist of members selected by the Conduct Administrator or designee, and will consist of representatives from full-time faculty, Financial Services, Student Services, the Office of the Registrar, and senior academic administration. At any formal hearing before the committee, three (3) committee members and several alternates will be selected to transact the business of the committee. In sexual misconduct and related hearings, a three-member administrative panel will be utilized. Any member of such committee who believes he or she has a conflict of interest rendering him or her incapable of making an impartial decision will disqualify him or herself from that hearing and the Conduct Administrator or designee will appoint a person to take his or her place at that hearing.
Record of Proceeding
Proceedings before the Student Community Standards Committee will be recorded and will be made available or a copy will be provided to the parties if requested.
Once an accused student responds to an alleged violation, the parties will be given a minimum of seven (7) business days to prepare for a hearing. Students may request to waive the seven (7) day preparation requirement if they prefer an expedited hearing.
At least forty-eight (48) hours before any scheduled hearing, the following may occur:
- The accused student will deliver to the Conduct Administrator or designee a written response to the complaint;
- The parties will deliver to the Conduct Administrator or designee a written list of all witnesses they each want the University to call on their behalf at the hearing, giving the full contact information of any such witness, if known;
- The parties will deliver to the Conduct Administrator or designee a written list of all items of physical information the parties intend to use or need to have present at the hearing, and will provide such information or indicate who has possession or custody of such information, if known;
- The parties will notify the Conduct Administrator or designee, at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to the formal hearing, of the names of any advisors who may be accompanying the parties at the hearing; advisors are to be selected from members of the Ashford University community unless special permission for an outside advisor is granted by the Conduct Administrator or designee.
- The Conduct Administrator or designee will ensure that this information and any other available written documentation is shared between the complainant(s) and accused student(s) at least twenty-four (24) hours before any scheduled hearing. Hearing officers may be unseated if Conduct Administrator or designee concludes that their bias precludes an impartial hearing of the complaint. Additionally, any Student Community Standards Committee member or hearing officer who feels they cannot make an objective determination must recuse himself or herself from the proceedings.
If there is an alleged victim of the conduct in question, the alleged victim may serve as the complainant, or may elect to have the administration serve as complainant. Where there is no victim, the administration will serve as complainant. In any joint hearing, separate determinations will be made as to the responsibility of each student accused. The conduct administrator may elect to separate hearings that have been referred jointly or join those that have been referred separately.
After a formal Student Community Standards Committee hearing, the Committee will deliberate and determine by majority vote whether it is more likely than not that the student has violated the Student Community Standards. The Conduct Administrator or designee will serve as the non-voting Chair during the hearing and deliberations to resolve all questions of admissibility, evidence and precedent. Once a finding is determined, if that finding is that of a policy violation, the Student Community Standards Committee will determine an appropriate sanction. The Chair is responsible for informing the Student Community Standards Committee of applicable precedent and any relevant previous violations of Student Community Standards by the accused student. All committee hearings will be recorded and the Chair will be responsible for completing the hearing file. The Conduct Administrator or designee will prepare a written deliberation report detailing the finding to include in the case record, including how each body member voted, the information cited by the body in support of its finding, and any information that the body excluded from its consideration, and why. This report should conclude with any recommended sanctions. This report typically should not exceed two pages in length, and must be submitted to the Conduct Administrator or designee within 48 hours after the end of deliberations. The Conduct Administrator or designee may make appropriate modifications and then will implement the final determination and inform the parties within seven (7) business days after the hearing.
The committee will consider all information that is relevant and credible. The Committee may in its discretion limit or bar character witnesses. Any questions of the admissibility of information will be determined by the Chair. The past sexual history or sexual character of a party will not be admissible by the other party in hearings unless such information is determined to be highly relevant by the Chair. All such information sought to be admitted will be presumed irrelevant, and any request to overcome this presumption by the parties must be included in the complaint/response or a subsequent written request, and must be reviewed in advance of the hearing by the Conduct Administrator or designee. While previous violations in Student Community Standards by the accused student are not generally admissible as information about the present alleged violation, the Conduct Administrator or designee may supply previous complaint information to the Committee when it may intend to establish a pattern in a complaint involving any form of sex/gender discrimination (e.g., stalking, relationship violence, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, etc.).
The following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found to have violated the Student Community Standards:
Written Warning: A notice in writing to the student that the student is violating or has violated institutional policies. The letter informs the student that continued misconduct will result in further conduct action up to and including removal from the University. The letter will be emailed and/or delivered to the student’s campus address for campus students. For online students, the letter will be sent to the student’s email address on file with the University.
Types of Probation:
Conduct Probation: The hearing body determines the beginning and ending dates. Students on conduct probation may incur additional sanctions for any subsequent violation of University policies and/or rules, whether or not this violation is related to the original violation for which conduct probation was imposed.
Probation Restrictions: Students on probation may be subject to the following restrictions:
- They may not hold any office or leadership role in any student or University organization or activity.
- They may not represent the University in any on- or off-campus event.
- Other restrictions may be established for individual situations by the Conduct Administrator or designee.
Loss of Privileges: Means a denial of specified privileges for a definite period of time. Privileges that may be lost include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Restricted Access: Student may be restricted from entering specified buildings or areas on campus, from attendance at specified campus events, or from use of specified equipment or facilities for definite periods of time.
- Fines: Fines may be imposed to restore damage to physical property. In addition, the hearing body may recommend that the University refuse: (1) to grant academic credits or degrees; or (2) to issue grades or transcripts to the student offender(s) or student member(s) of an offending organization, until such fine is paid. The method of payment will be specified by the hearing body imposing the fine.
- Restitution: Compensation for loss, damage, or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service and/or monetary or material replacement. The conduct body may recommend that the University refuse: (1) to grant academic credits or degrees; or (2) to issue grades or transcripts to the student offender(s) or student member(s) of an offending organization, until restitution is complete.
- Educational Projects: Completion of an educational or developmental project such as, but not limited to, the following: attending a specific workshop or program, writing an article or research paper on a specified topic, making an oral presentation to a campus group, participating in specified counseling/evaluation, work assignments, and/or service to the University. The Conduct Administrator or designee may develop additional educational sanctions to meet individual student needs on a case-by-case basis.
- Suspension: Separation of the student from campus/online university access, classes and all privileges for a definite period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. The offender may not be on campus at any time or participate in University classes except to come to the Administration Building for matters directly related to the suspension. In cases where suspension prevents the completion of course work, the student will receive a “W” grade. Tuition and fees will be refunded as per applicable refund policies outlined in the Financial Information section of this Catalog. Any conditions for readmission will be stated in the order of suspension.
- Expulsion: Permanent separation of the student from the University. Tuition and fees will be refunded as per applicable refund policies outlined in the Financial Information section of this Catalog. The student is barred from being present on-campus and at University-sponsored events.
The following sanctions may be imposed upon groups or organizations:
- Those sanctions listed previously;
- Deactivation: Loss of all privileges, including University recognition, for a specified period of time.
More than one of the sanctions listed previously may be imposed for any single violation.
To appeal an informal hearing outcome:
- Accused student may petition within three (3) business days of the date of the hearing outcome. Such petitions will be in writing and will be sent to the Conduct Administrator.
- To be granted an appeal, the accused student must state the specific basis of the request for an appeal and indicate why he or she believes the informal hearing and/or outcome was fundamentally unfair.
- Except as required to explain the basis of new information, a review will be limited to review of the verbatim record of the initial hearing and supporting documents for one or more of the following purposes:
- To consider new information, unavailable during the original hearing, that could be outcome determinative;
- To assess whether a material deviation from written procedures impacted the fairness of the hearing;
- To decide if a sanction(s) is substantially disproportionate to the severity of the offense;
- To determine that the finding does not accord with the information;
- To assess whether bias on the part of a conduct committee member deprived the process of impartiality.
The Conduct Administrator or designee will have discretion over granting student appeals for informal hearings.
If a student is granted an appeal from an informal hearing, he or she will be granted a formal hearing with the Student Community Standards Committee. This formal hearing will be conducted in accordance to the Student Community Standards Committee formal hearing procedures as outlined in this Catalog.
Student Community Standards Committee Formal Hearing
To appeal a Student Community Standards Committee hearing outcome:
- Accused students or complainants may petition within three (3) business days of the date of the hearing outcome. Such petitions will be in writing and will be delivered to the Director of the Conduct Administrator or designee. In Student Community Standards Committee cases that already involve the Director of the Conduct Administrator or designee, petitions will be delivered to the Campus Director (campus) or the Vice President of Student & Alumni Affairs (online).
- If the reviewing body described previously determines that one of the five bases for appeal listed subsequently has been met, the reviewing body may either reconsider the original determination and/or sanction(s) or refer the matter back to the Student Community Standards Committee for reconsideration. The reviewing body serves as the final level of review in the conduct matter.
- Except as required to explain the basis of new information, a review will be limited to review of the verbatim record of the initial hearing and supporting documents for one or more of the following purposes:
- To consider new information, unavailable during the original hearing, that could be outcome determinative;
- To assess whether a material deviation from written procedures impacted the fairness of the hearing;
- To decide if a sanction(s) is substantially disproportionate to the severity of the offense;
- To determine that the finding does not accord with the information;
- To assess whether bias on the part of a conduct board member deprived the process of impartiality.
Every opportunity should be taken to return the complaint to the Student Community Standards Committee for reconsideration, where possible. Where only one party to a complaint elects to appeal, all parties will be joined in the appeal process. Where the parties request appeals on different bases, those bases will be consolidated into one final appeal process. On appeal by any party to the complaint, Conduct Administrator or designee or the Student Community Standards Committee (by majority vote) may support or change a decision, increase, decrease, or modify a sanction. An appeal is not a rehearing, though witnesses may be called or parties questioned as necessary. The reviewing body will be deferential to the original decision maker, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error and to the sanction only if a compelling justification to do so exists.
Violation of Federal Copyright Laws
Any member of the University community who participates in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including peer-to-peer file sharing, may be subject to civil and criminal liabilities, in addition to sanctions imposed by the University. Penalties for violating federal copyright laws may include civil damages, costs and attorneys’ fees, injunctions, fines, and imprisonment. The following is a non-exhaustive list of specific penalties.
Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws
Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under Section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.
Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.
Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.
Students who are found to have participated in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material and/or other forms of copyright infringement will be subject to an appropriate consequence in accordance with the Student Community Standards found in this Catalog.
Both the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) maintain a list of legal alternatives for downloading. Please visit http://www.whymusicmatters.com/ or http://www.mpaa.org/ for more information.
Ashford University considers the safety and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff as a top priority. The Involuntary Leave policy is not intended to be a substitute for appropriate disciplinary action when discipline is warranted, but may be used in cases when regular disciplinary proceedings cannot or should not be used, and after attempts to encourage the student to initiate a Voluntary Leave have been exhausted. Involuntary Leave is available to protect the health and safety of the University Community and is not a penalty.
Grounds for Involuntary Leave
A student may be subjected to Involuntary Leave if there is evidence that the student’s continued attendance presents an unreasonable risk of harm to members of the University Community. The leave will endure for a pre-determined period, or until the student no longer poses an unreasonable risk of harm, at which time the leave will end and the student will be reinstated. Grounds for Involuntary Leave include representing a significant threat to the safety and/or health of members of the University Community
When the Conduct Administrator or designee receives credible information regarding a student’s behavior, statements, or actions that may constitute grounds for Involuntary Leave, the Conduct Administrator or designee will meet with the student to review the reported behavior, actions, and/or statements. If the Conduct Administrator or designee has a reasonable basis to believe that that the student meets the criteria for Involuntary Leave, he or she may take any of the following actions:
- Impose an immediate Emergency Administrative Leave if there is compelling evidence that the student poses high probability of substantial harm to others that cannot be mitigated by appropriate accommodations; and/or
- Require the evaluation of the student by an appropriate professional chosen by the University. The cost of the evaluation shall be paid for by the University. The evaluation shall be completed within 10 business days after the initial meeting with the Conduct Administrator or designee, unless an extension is granted.
In situations where a mandatory evaluation by a professional is expected, the student will be expected to sign written authorization to allow for the exchange of relevant information between the University and the evaluating professional. Failure to cooperate with the evaluation or sign the written authorization may result in a referral to the student conduct process. The professional making the evaluation shall assess the student’s ability to safely participate in the University’s educational program. The assessment shall inform the Office of Student Affairs’ determination of:
- The severity of risk posed by the student to the health and safety of members of the University community;
- The probability that potential harm may occur; and,
- Whether reasonable modification of policies, practices, and procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk.
If the evaluation results in a determination that the student’s continued attendance poses no significant threat to the health and safety of others, the University will take no further action under the Involuntary Leave policy.
If the evaluation results in a determination that the continued attendance of the student presents a significant threat to the health and safety of others, the University may refer the matter to the Student Affairs department and/or will conduct an Involuntary Leave hearing to make an individualized and objective assessment of the student’s ability to safely participate in the University’s educational program. The assessment will include a determination of the severity of risk posed by the student, the probability that potential harm may occur, and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, and procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk. The student may provide evidence showing he or she should not be placed on Involuntary Leave. If the hearing determines it is more likely than not that there is a direct threat of harm to others based on a high probability of substantial harm, the student will be placed on leave from the University until it can be demonstrated that the student no longer poses a direct threat and has met all appropriate conditions for return.
Appeals of an Involuntary Leave will be handled in accordance with the Ashford University Grievance Procedure for Student Complaints.
During the period of either Emergency Administrative Leave or during a time period of Involuntary Leave after assessment, the student is not permitted to participate in University courses or events, or be present in any University facility or on any campus, except by the express permission of the Conduct Administrator or designee.
Appeal of Involuntary Leave after Evaluation or Emergency Administrative Leave
In situations where a student is involuntarily withdrawn as a result of either an Emergency Administrative Leave or as an action determined appropriate from the results of the assessment, a student shall be informed of his or her right to appeal the University’s decision regarding the Involuntary Leave.
The appeal shall be in writing and directed to the VP/Campus Director (campus modality) or the Vice President of Student & Alumni Affairs (online modality) or designee and shall be received within ten (10) business days of the determination of the Involuntary Leave. Upon receipt of the appeal, the VP/Campus Director (campus) or Vice President of Student & Alumni Affairs (online) or designee shall set a hearing date no later than 15 business days after receipt of the appeal. The hearing shall be an informal proceeding and is not considered adversarial.
At the hearing, the student will be provided with the opportunity to review any evaluations utilized by the University in the determination to invoke the Involuntary Leave policy. The student will also be provided with the opportunity to present relevant information from his or her perspective. The student may be accompanied by a person acting as an advocate who may be a family member or friend or member of the University community. The VP/Campus Director (campus) or the Vice President of Student & Alumni Affairs (online) or designee will review all the information presented in the hearing and make a determination of whether to uphold the involuntary leave of the student or consider readmission to the University.
Readmission to the University
A student who is involuntarily withdrawn under the Involuntary Leave policy will have the opportunity to be reinstated according to the time period specified in the decision letter from the Conduct Administrator or designee. The University may impose conditions upon the re-enrollment status as appropriate.
Consequences to Course Grades and Tuition or Other Fee Charges
If the Involuntary Leave policy is invoked, the student will normally receive “W” grades (withdraw grades) in all courses in which he or she is currently enrolled, and will be considered eligible for a tuition credit upon re-enrollment. Regular tuition charges and other applicable fees will be refunded per the Institutional Tuition Refund Policy outlined in the Financial Information section of this Catalog, based on the student’s last date of attendance.
As required by federal law, Ashford University provides the following information regarding its graduation/completion rate. The rate reflects only the graduation/completion status of students who enrolled as first-time, degree-seeking students during the 2006-2007 school year and for whom 150% of the normal time-to-completion has elapsed.
During the fall semester of 2006, 286 first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students entered Ashford University. After six years, (as of August 31, 2012) 21% of these students had graduated from Ashford University. Please contact the Registrar’s Office with any questions.
Please note that the graduation/completion rate does not include any student who attended a college or university after high school and then enrolled at Ashford University.
Graduation/Completion Rate by Gender
Graduation/Completion Rate by Race or Ethnic Group
|American Indian or Alaska Native||(1)|
|Black or African-American||18%|
Graduation/Completion Rate by Financial Aid Category
|Pell Grant Recipients||95%|
Subsidized FFEL or Direct Loan Recipients (excludes Pell Grant Recipients)
Neither Pell Grant nor Subsidized FFEL or Direct Loan Recipients
Source: Institutional Research, 2013
(1) Suppressed to protect student privacy due to small numbers.
N/A indicates that no students were in this category.
Source: Institutional Research, 2013
Alumni Employment Information
Please refer to the Ashford University website (http://www.ashford.edu/alumnistatistics.htm) for information regarding Ashford University Alumni employment statistics. Alumni Statistics include types of employment obtained by Ashford University graduates and employment rates.
The retention rate for First-time/Full-time freshmen at Ashford University beginning in Fall 2011 was 39%.
(Source: IPEDS Fall Enrollment Survey 2012-2013)
Student Body Diversity
Ashford University provides the following information regarding its student body. This information is based on data reporting in the 2012-2013 IPEDS Fall Enrollment Survey.
|Black or African American||36%|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||1%|
|Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander||1%|
|Two or more races||3%|
|Race and ethnicity unknown||2%|
|Students who received Pell grants||69%|
(Source: Institutional Research, 2013)