Student Organization Policies
Middlebury College complies with applicable provisions of state and federal law which prohibit discrimination in employment, or in admission or access to its educational or extracurricular programs, activities or facilities, on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, marital status, place of birth, service in the armed forces of the United States, or against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability..
Any student organization that discriminates on the basis of any of the aforementioned qualities or characteristics is antithetical to the mission of the College and is not appropriate as a model for society at large.
a. All student organizations are subject to College policies.
b. All student organizations must have constitutions that have been approved by the Constitution Committee of the Student Government Association. The Constitution Committee may not approve a constitution in violation of Handbook policy.
c. Approval of a constitution does not guarantee funding. The Finance Committee of the Student Government Association administers funding of student organizations by allocating the Student Activities Fee. This fee is separate from the comprehensive fee and is not a part of the College's general budget.
d. No student organization may discriminate in its membership, programs, or activities on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, place of birth, Vietnam veteran status, or against qualified individuals with disability on the basis of disability.
e. Middlebury College recognizes the long-standing importance of religious belief and practice in American society, and the diversity of religious belief and practice within the Middlebury community. Students and student organizations may pursue their own religious beliefs, and the articulation of those beliefs, through religious practice and community life. When allegations arise that those beliefs and practices have resulted in actions that discriminate against an individual or group, the procedure outlined in item h. below should be followed.
f. A student organization may require candidates for leadership positions or offices to fulfill certain prerequisites prior to election or selection, and may restrict leadership roles and voting to those members with demonstrated prior affiliation with the organization. Such procedures, including all prerequisites, restrictions, and nomination requirements, must be consistent with Handbook policy, including anti-discrimination language, and must be stated in detail in the organization's constitution.
g. An organization may express in its constitution ideals or preferences regarding beliefs its leaders might hold. No student may be precluded from being on a ballot or participating in a selection process on the basis of any of the qualities or characteristics referred to in item d. above.
h. Students who believe themselves to be the victims of discrimination by an individual or a group on the basis of the aforementioned qualities or characteristics, or who believe an organization has violated College policy, may submit a written complaint to the dean of student affairs, who initiates the investigative process through established judicial procedures. The dean of student affairs may refer the complaint to appropriate administrators for investigation. The dean of student affairs has the authority to adjudicate and enforce College policies for student organizations.
i. The College assumes that individual students are responsible and accountable for their own behavior, and that groups of students and student organizations are responsible for their collective behavior. Failure to comply with College policy may result in disciplinary action against an individual or group, up to and including expulsion of students and/or revocation of an organization's constitution.
Freedom of Association
Students bring a variety of interests previously acquired to the College, and they develop many new interests as members of the academic community. They should be free to organize and join associations to promote their common interests.a. In order to ensure the integrity of recognized student organizations as Middlebury student activities, the membership, policies, and actions of a student organization will be determined by vote of only those persons who hold bona fide membership in the College community.
a. In order to ensure the integrity of recognized student organizations as Middlebury student activities, the membership, policies, and actions of a student organization will be determined by vote of only those persons who hold bona fide membership in the College community.
b. Affiliation with an extramural organization does not in itself disqualify a student organization from institutional recognition. College policy prohibits student participation in or affiliation with single-gender fraternities or sororities. College regulations prohibit ties between coeducational social houses and single-gender fraternities and sororities.
c. Students are free to organize informally for any legal aim, subject to the rules and regulations of the College. If they seek official College recognition that makes them eligible for student activities funds, they must have a written constitution formally approved by the SGA Constitutions Committee.
d. A student organization may request a faculty/staff adviser of its choice. An adviser may inform an organization about its legal responsibilities and make appropriate suggestions about policy, but does not have authority to control policy or make personnel decisions.
e. Profits accumulated through fund-raising activities by any organization that received student activities fees may be used for any purpose subject to the following restrictions:
- The purpose of the organization's fund-raising must be clearly advertised in advance.
- The organization may not initiate any activity, the profits of which will be used for any direct or indirect contributions to a political campaign..
- The fund-raising must conform to the SGA Finance Committee guidelines.The fund-raising must conform to the SGA Finance Committee guidelines. The purpose of the organization's fund-raising must be clearly advertised in advance.
Policy on Hazing
The College prohibits hazing activities, whether by an individual or an organization. For the purposes of this policy, hazing is defined as any act committed by a person, whether individually or in concert with others, against a student in connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization which is affiliated with an educational institution; and which is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, humiliating, intimidating or demeaning the student or endangering the mental or physical health of a student. Hazing also includes soliciting, directing, aiding, or otherwise participating actively or passively in the above acts.
The implied or expressed consent to hazing is not a defense under applicable State law or this policy.
Hazing activity occurring on or off the Middlebury College campus may lead to disciplinary proceedings with penalties for the individuals involved up to and including suspension or expulsion. Hazing may also lead to the suspension or termination of a student organization.
Culpability for any violations of this policy may be attributed to the perpetrators, the student group and/or its members, and elected or appointed officers. A student group may be found culpable upon satisfactory evidence that the organization did not discourage or did not take reasonable steps to prevent hazing by its members or affiliates.
The student leadership of all registered student organizations, club sports and athletics programs are required to annually acknowledge that they will comply with the terms of the Middlebury College Hazing Policy. All student group officers shall educate their organization members on the applicable Vermont law and College policies concerning hazing.
Policy Violation Review Process
The Dean of the College or an appropriate designee monitors the implementation of this policy. Activities believed to be hazing should be reported to a Commons Dean, Director of Athletics or the Dean of the College. Any questions concerning the interpretation or application of this policy should be referred to the Dean of the College for resolution.
After an allegation of hazing is made, the Dean of the College will review the investigation as conducted by the Department of Public Safety and/or other designated investigatory agencies. In cases where there is significant evidence that College policy has been violated the Dean of the College will levy sanctions against the student organization up to and including, but not limited to, permanent or temporary suspension of recognition and activities, denial of use of College facilities, or other similar sanction
The Dean may also refer charges of hazing for individual students to the Community Judicial Board for review and adjudication with penalties up to and including suspension or expulsion
Regardless of the outcome of a review for violations of the hazing policy, incidents may still be reviewed by the Community Judicial Board for other violations of College policy.
Referral to Law Enforcement
The College will report allegations of hazing to law enforcement authorities when, in the judgment of the Dean of the College, the nature of the allegations suggests that the hazing activity, if it occurred or is occurring, presents a risk of serious harm to students or other persons, or involves a potentially serious violation of law.
Freedom of Inquiry and Expression
a. Students and student organizations are free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately. They should always be free to support causes by orderly means, which do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the College or community. At the same time, it should be made clear to the academic and larger community that students or student organizations speak only for themselves in their public expressions or demonstrations.
b. Officially recognized student organizations may invite to the campus and hear any person of their choosing. The College reserves the right to ensure orderly scheduling of facilities, which prevents unnecessary conflict with other College events and provides adequate preparation for the event. It should be made clear to the academic and larger community that sponsorship of guest speakers does not necessarily imply approval or endorsement of the views expressed, either by the sponsoring group or the College.
c. Student organizations bear full responsibility for arranging and financing any Department of Public Safety provisions that may be necessary in connection with controversial speakers. The deans offices have the right to receive full and accurate information regarding Department of Public Safety measures at any time they so request. The deans offices also have the right to specify security measures to the organizations as seem appropriate. If the College, through the offices of the deans or the president, judges that security arrangements are inadequate and that the sponsoring organization is either unwilling or unable to make proper arrangements, the event may be canceled by the dean or president. If time permits, action to cancel an event will be taken only after full consultation with the Community Council.
Student Publications and Media
Student publications and the student press are a valuable aid in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration on the campus. They are a means of bringing student concerns to the attention of the faculty and College authorities and of formulating student opinion on various issues on the campus and in the world at large.
Student publications are financed by the Student Activities Fee, which all students must pay in order to register for each term. Since these funds are collected by the College for the general student body, the College and the Finance Committee of the SGA bear legal and financial responsibility for publications. There is no set limit to the number of publications produced each year, and the SGA has final jurisdiction in this matter. Each existing publication will be reviewed annually, including a preliminary check of the organization and publication by the Finance Committee and a final review by the SGA itself. Despite the legal and financial dependence of publications, the College, the SGA, and the Community Council must provide sufficient editorial freedom and financial autonomy for the student publications to maintain their integrity of purpose as vehicles of free inquiry and free expression in an academic community.
The editorial freedom of student editors and managers entails the corollary responsibility to abide by the canons of responsible journalism, including the avoidance of libel, indecency, undocumented allegations, attacks on personal integrity, and the use of harassment and innuendo.
The constitutions of student publications must provide clear statements of general policy and the nature of their responsibility to the student body at large.
As safeguards for the editorial freedom of student publications the following provisions are set forth:a. The student media will be free of censorship and advance approval of copy, and its editors and managers are free to develop their own editorial policies and news coverage.
a. The student media will be free of censorship and advance approval of copy, and its editors and managers are free to develop their own editorial policies and news coverage.
b. Procedures for the selection of editors and managers of student press organizations must be clearly articulated in the organization’s constitution. The SGA has the power to remove an incumbent editor or manager by a two-thirds vote, in accordance with the procedures outlined below, but the SGA must ensure that editors and managers of student publications are not arbitrarily suspended or removed because of student, faculty, administrative, or public disapproval of editorial policy or content. Suspension or removal must be premised upon a finding of violation of the canons of responsible journalism or failure to appear at removal proceedings as described below.
c. A charge against an editor or manager may be filed only by a person aggrieved by the alleged offense. The charge must be stated in detail, and presented in writing to the president of the SGA within 10 school days of publication or broadcast of the offending material. The president will present the charges to the SGA. Should the president of the SGA desire to bring charges against a student media group, charges should be presented in writing to the Student Co-chair of Community Council who will then bring the charges to the Senate..
d. Upon receipt of the written charges, the SGA will determine by majority vote whether to initiate removal proceedings against the editor or manager charged. Removal proceedings may commence no earlier than three school days after the vote to initiate the proceedings.Upon receipt of the written charges, the SGA will determine by majority vote whether to initiate removal proceedings against the editor or manager charged. Removal proceedings may commence no earlier than three school days after the vote to initiate the proceedings.
e. The editor or manager charged, the aggrieved party, and the staff member who wrote or broadcast the offending material must be present at the removal hearing. The president of the SGA, or SCOCC if appropriate, will give notice to all parties of the time and place of hearing. Witnesses may be called by either side to support or refute the charges, or to determine the extent to which the editor or manager charged is responsible for the alleged offense.
f. At the commencement of the hearing, the editor or manager charged and the aggrieved party will each be allowed no more than 15 minutes to make an oral presentation before the SGA. Written defenses or allegations may be distributed to SGA members by either side at any time after the initiation of removal proceedings. Each side will be allowed access to all materials so disseminated. After the oral presentations, questioning will be allowed. The president of the SGA, or SCOCC if appropriate, presides over the hearing and is responsible for keeping order.
g. A vote to remove must be taken within 15 school days of the vote to initiate removal proceedings. An editor or manager who has been removed by the required two-thirds vote may not serve for the remainder of the academic year as an editor or manager of the organization from which he or she was removed.
h. If an editor or manager is removed under these procedures, the organization that originally published or broadcast the offending statement must publicly retract it.
i. All student publications financed and published by the College must include a clear statement on the editorial page that opinions expressed in the publication are not necessarily those of the College or the student body.
j. Advertisements in publications may not include references to alcohol, directly or indirectly.