Student Rights

From free speech to free dress, what rights do students have or relinquish on campus? Smoking bans, faith based initiatives and rights violations are just a few of the topics covered here. Don’t miss out on the latest information on student rights on community college campuses.
View the most popular articles in Student Rights:
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Cussing on Campus: Should Community Colleges Fine Students?
Do you have a right to use profanity on campus? Read about one community college that is fining its students for cussing.
Profanity is generally frowned upon at primary and secondary schools across the country. In fact, one high school in Connecticut has issued a policy that allows police to hand out pricey tickets to students caught in the act of cussing. The rule is designed to teach students self control and prohibit profanity in the school, where it doesn't belong. Despite the $103 price tag, these tickets have been supported by the majority of the parents and students at Connecticut High School, according to a report in the New Haven Register.

Most of us agree with rules against foul language used by kids, but what about when those kids reach college campuses? Aren't they considered adults, capable of making their own choices, even if the words they choose are offensive to people around them?
 
According to a community college in Mississippi, the answer is a resounding no. This school is cracking down on cussing on campus, and some say they are violating First Amendment rights in the process. One particular case has garnered the attention of the country, putting the usually quiet campus in a bit of a predicament.  
 
The Case of Isaac Rosenbloom
 
According to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Isaac Rosenbloom is a 29-year-old student at Hinds Community College. One day, he and a few other students remained after class to discuss their grades with the professor. Rosenbloom was distressed about the low grade he had received on an assignment that was turned
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How Free is Free Speech on Community College Campuses?
Is free speech in jeopardy on community college campuses? Learn about new movements that may limit students' speech to specific "free speech zones."
The Peralta Community College district in California has recently been the subject of intense scrutiny since announcing its plans to establish "free speech" zones around their campuses. According to the Mercury News, school district officials are currently working on a policy to limit where and how groups can speak on campus.

These proposed free speech zones have rankled students and faculty alike and caused many to question whether First Amendment free speech is in jeopardy in venues where the public exchange of ideas have always been welcomed. However, Peralta is not the only college environment where free speech platforms have been limited. This idea has actually been in existence for a decade, and every college campus that has instituted free speech zones has come under fire for their plans.
 
Free Speech on College Campuses
 
Since the 1960s, college students have led many protests against social issues and stood up for policies and legislation they have believed to be a violation of their rights. Protests during that time primarily revolved around the Vietnam War, but grumblings against the "Establishment" and other social policies were also the topics of debate.
 
During the final two decades of the previous centuries, protests on college campuses cooled significantly. However, concerns over race and sex have emboldened students once again, according to a report from the First Amendment Center. As college officials have become concerned over potential uprisings that may result from such demonstrations, limits on when and where students can exercise their First Amendment
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Faith Based Initiatives at Community Colleges: Faux Pas or Politically Correct?
Learn about how religious initiatives at community colleges are growing in popularity and how these programs will impact the dynamics on campus.
While mixing religion with education was once reserved for private schools, some community colleges have created faith-based programs for their campuses. These community colleges hope to provide the right environment for students who desire both a comprehensive spiritual and educational experience. 
 
However, many school leaders are cautiously questioning how the more spiritually minded community colleges will fare amidst a diverse population of both “faith based” and non-practicing students across the country.
 
Faith Based” Models in Higher Education Institutions
 
There are over 1,200 higher education institutions that are underpinned by religious denominations, but each “faith based” school can function in a variety of unique ways.  For example, as College View further reveals, “The opportunities for spiritual growth vary from school to school—as do the requirements for participation. At some schools, religious services and classes are simply offered…at other schools, participation is required or at least expected.” 
 
Students often make their decisions not only on the underlying religious denominations, but also how strictly these religious beliefs structure the campus environment.  Students considering a “faith based” school can choose from several types of structural options, including:   
  • Schools that celebrate a religious history dating back to the school’s founders.  However, these schools may or may not include the particular origin of religion as a major part of their modern-day instruction or campus functions. 
  • Schools that are dedicated to traditional evangelical values, wherein the campus structures their conduct guidelines based on a set of religious beliefs and values.  For example, some community colleges affiliate with Southern Baptist, Mennonite, and
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Can Community Colleges Limit Your Right to Free Speech?
Learn about the legal cases brought against community colleges, who allegedly have been violating students' rights to freedom of speech.
Although the United States Constitution asserts that all Americans have the freedom of speech, a handful of community college campuses may be silencing some voices. During classroom debates that focus on controversial topics, ranging from gay marriage to sexism in the workforce, tensions arise – but does this give community colleges the right to silence certain voices?
 
Legal Actions Against Limited Speech in Community Colleges

While there have been several cases brought against community colleges, Los Angeles Community College (LACC), located in California, has garnered the most controversial attention. As the Los Angeles Times reports, LACC student Jonathan Lopez filed a lawsuit against the college after his professor allegedly did not allow Lopez to complete his prepared speech on Proposition 8. According to court documents, Lopez asserts that the professor asked him to shorten his presentation due to the professor's own beliefs regarding gay marriage. As the LA Times specifically recounts, “The student said that the professor cut his presentation short, called him a 'fascist bastard' and told him to ask God' for his grade.”

This video looks at the freedom of speech issue.

Despite the shocking words, Lopez's professor was technically abiding by the sexual harassment policy set forth by LACC. Lopez's professor believed that the student's anti-gay marriage presentation was sexually offensive, and subsequently, by banning Lopez from giving the speech, the professor was indeed adhering to the subjective nature of the sexual harassment school policy.

Due to the offensive remarks allegedly made by Lopez's professor,
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Leading the Way in Living Smoke Free: Banning Tobacco on Community College Campuses
Learn about the growing trend among community colleges to ban tobacco use on campus.
As a societal approach to improving health conditions in public settings, many offices, community centers, and restaurants have initiated tobacco and smoking bans on their properties. While public schools, such as elementary and high schools, have banned tobacco products on their educational campuses for years, community colleges across the country are now beginning to follow in this health-driven trend. 
 
Banning Tobacco on Community College Campuses  
 
The Growing Trend
 
Institutions, businesses, and other settings possess the legal right to ban smoking and tobacco use on property grounds by the fact that private properties can be governed by owners/managers/leaders. As a result, those who own a private property often have the supreme authority over the rules and regulations of their grounds and boundaries. 
 
Community colleges, on the other hand, had to earn their right to ban tobacco in 2006, as community campuses are not necessarily “privately” owned properties. In 2006, as Katherine McDonald of the Chatham Journal explains, “The General Assembly adopted legislation exempting community colleges from a law requiring public institutions to set aside areas for tobacco use.”  
 
According to McDonald’s investigations, community colleges that have adopted smoke-free and tobacco-free policies include schools such as Asheville-Buncombe Technical, Cleveland, Guilford Technical, Haywood, Pitt, Roanoke-Chowan, Stanly, Wake Technical, and Wilkes Community College.
 
This video describes the Truth Initiative which helps community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) bring tobacco-free policies to the campuses that serve young adults from minority and low-income communities.
 
 
Motivations Behind Tobacco-Free Schools
 
While the trend to ban tobacco on
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