Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities


1.     Commitment to Diversity and Inclusiveness

The varied perspectives of a diverse community enhance the academic and social environment of the college through the sharing of a broad range of ideas and the affirmation of cultural and social traditions.  A multicultural experience is rewarding for all community members and the College is committed to fostering and celebrating this experience.

Freedom of inquiry and exploration are valued in this learning environment and members of the community are encouraged to express their ideas.  However, a genuine sharing of ideas, perspectives, and values presupposes both freedom and responsibility.  Consequently, all members of the community are expected to engage in civil discourse, reasoned thought, sustained discussion and constructive participation without degrading, abusing or silencing others.

Living up to these standards is not always easy. But because the community is enriched when they are honored and diminished when they are not honored, everyone at Gettysburg College is expected to make a good faith effort to grow into these standards.  Behavior that violates these standards is considered a serious breach of responsibility and the College will determine an appropriate response; which may include mediation, public forum or other educational means.

Gettysburg College subscribes to the wisdom in the words of Justice Louis D. Brandeis:

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."  (Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 1927).

2.     Non-discrimination

It is the policy of Gettysburg College not to discriminate improperly against any matriculated student, employee or prospective employee on account of race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or being differently abled.  Religious qualifications, however, may be required by organizations whose practices and observances depend upon religious homogeneity.

3.     Freedom of Public Expression

Gettysburg College is committed to providing an environment where issues can be openly discussed and explored. The freedom to exchange views is essential to the life of the College. In order to provide an atmosphere in which open communication can occur without disrupting the academic mission or the daily functions of the College, this policy is in place to govern public expression of ideas and information (e.g. campus demonstrations, speakers, public distribution/posting of written materials, etc.

Gettysburg College affords all members of the College community, which includes students, faculty, and staff, substantial privileges with respect to freedom of speech and expression.  The College encourages the open expression of ideas, and the inclusion of contrary points of view. This freedom, however, is subject to reasonable restrictions of time, place, and manner so that the activities do not intrude upon or interfere with the academic mission and daily functions of the College, or with the rights of members of the College community as defined under College policy.

A.    Principles of Free Expression

Several principles basic to our College community are enumerated below and serve as a summary of the College's position concerning freedom of expression and dissent.

1)    Free inquiry and expression are indispensable elements in the achievement of the goals of this academic community. It is therefore expected that diverse views will be voiced throughout the community, including those that may be offensive.

2)    Responsible dissent is to be encouraged as one means of exposing errors in reasoning and procedures, and of discovering truth.

3)    Any effort by members of the College community to limit openness in this academic community is a matter of serious concern and militates against the freedom of expression and the discovery of truth. Each member of the community is therefore free to express their point of view on any issue of public interest.  Each member of the community is also expected to help guarantee the ability of other community members to freely express themselves. No group or individual has the right to interfere with the legitimate activity of other authorized persons and groups.

4)    Demonstrations, speakers, the distribution/posting of leaflets, statements, petitions, and other forms of public expression are permitted on the campus within reasonable restrictions of time, place, and manner.

5)    Public expression cannot be unlawful and must not violate or conflict with local, state, or federal laws.  Such activity must not violate the College's Harassment policy, or any other College policy.

6)    Public expression cannot jeopardize public or individual safety.

7)    The public expression of views and opinions cannot prevent, unduly obstruct, or interfere with:

  • Academic activities, such as academic classes, labs, activities in any academic building, etc.
  • Business activities of the College.
  • The functioning of the College's Residence Hall communities.
  • Access to any College facilities.

8)    Non-College Individuals and Organizations are not permitted to be involved in public expression on College property unless they are invited and sponsored by an academic/administrative department or a recognized student organization.

B.    Guidelines for Public Expression on Campus

Examples of "Public Expression":

Assemblies, demonstrations, debates, forums, rallies, protests, picketing, speakers, etc. that are held on College property that are open to the general campus community.

Definition of "non-College" group or organization: 

Any group that plans to speak or demonstrate publicly that contains people who are not members of the College community as active participants in the speech/demonstration is considered a "non-College" group.

1)    Sponsorship responsibilities:
Definition of "Sponsor":  A recognized College organization or an academic/administrative department that invites a non-College individual or organization to speak or demonstrate on campus shall have the following responsibilities:

  • The Sponsor is responsible for assuring that the activities of the sponsored group are carried out in accord with the expectations delineated in the College Policy on Freedom of Public Expression and these guidelines that support the Policy.
  • The Sponsor of any speaker, event, demonstration, etc. must be clearly identified in all publicity materials for the event, and at the beginning of the event itself.
  • If the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students (in consultation with other College staff/faculty members) determines that additional security measures are necessary to assure compliance with the Policy on Freedom of Public Expression, the Sponsor must agree to such additional security and shall be responsible for the cost of these additional security measures.
  • Individual members of the College community can serve as sponsors only through the support of their department or recognized student organization.

2)    Prior Notice:
For public expression by members of the College community: Members of the College community are encouraged to give prior notice of their plans to the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students, at least 24 working hours prior to the event.  Faculty members are encouraged to give prior notice of their plans to the Provost's Office, at least 24 working hours prior to the event.   This prior notice will help assure that this policy and these guidelines are followed.

For public expression by non-members of the College community:  Student organization and administrative department sponsors (from the College community) of public expression activity by non-members of the College community must give prior notice of their plans to the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students, at least 48 working hours prior to the event.  Academic department sponsors of non-members of the College community must give prior notice of their plans to the Provost's Office, at least 48 working hours prior to the event.  This prior notice will help assure that this policy and these guidelines are followed.

3)    Location:

For public expression by members of the College community:

The College reserves the right to relocate or suspend any assembly that becomes disruptive to the normal operations of the College or that violates College policy.

The area in front of Plank Gym is an example of a location that meets the fundamental principles described in this policy. Groups are encouraged to consider the front of Plank Gym as a primary location for public expression on campus.

For public expression by non-members of the College community:

The College reserves the right to designate the location for these events, to help assure that this policy and these guidelines are followed. 

Amplification Equipment:

The College reserves the right to restrict the use of amplification equipment in association with any public expression activity.  The use of amplification must be approved by the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students in advance of the activity, to insure that its use does not create an unreasonable disruption to College activities.

Building of structures:

The College reserves the right to restrict the building of any structure in association with public expression.  The building of any structure must be approved by the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students in advance of the activity, to insure that the structure does not create a safety hazard or an unreasonable disruption to College activities.

4)    Objections to Public Free Expression Activity:

The College recognizes that individuals or groups may be opposed to certain acts of public expression. Disagreement with different opinions is acceptable; however, hindering or obstructing such activity compromises the College's goal of creating an environment where issues can be openly discussed. An individual or group wishing to protest at an event may do so as long as:

The protest is held in accord with the "Time, Place, and Manner" guidelines detailed in this policy.

The speaker's ability to speak and the audience's right to see and to hear a speaker are not unreasonably impeded.

5)    Guidelines for the Public Distribution of Written Materials:

Non-College Individuals and Organizations are not permitted to publicly distribute written materials on College property unless they are invited and sponsored by an academic/administrative department or a recognized student organization.

Student(s), student organizations, and academic/administrative departments are permitted to publicly distribute written materials in accordance with this Policy and Guidelines on Freedom of Public Expression

6)    Location Guidelines for Posting of Written Materials:

College Union Building: Posting permitted only on designated bulletin boards. No posting is permitted on boards designated for administrative department use.

Academic and Administrative Buildings:

Postings permitted only on designated bulletin boards/posting areas. No posting permitted on boards/areas designated for academic or administrative department use without permission of the department.

Residence Halls: 

Posting permitted in accordance with the policies of the department of Residence Life.

No Other Locations:

No postings may be made in any location other than those designated in these Guidelines without prior approval from the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students.

Identification:

Any postings must clearly identify the organization/individual responsible for the posting.

Time period for posting:

All postings must be dated.  Any out of date postings may be removed by the College.

Chalking:

Chalking is permitted on concrete walkways and plazas.  Chalking is not permitted on the walls of any buildings, or on any brick surfaces.

Failure to comply with these guidelines may result in removal of the posting/chalking in question.

7)    Disciplinary and Criminal Actions

The Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students or their designee will be responsible for administering this policy.  Violations of this policy are subject to conduct review and disciplinary sanctions, as are demonstrations that become disruptive.  Charges against students will be resolved through the College's judicial process, according to the Student Code of Conduct. Faculty and staff disciplinary procedures will be processed according to guidelines established by the Faculty Handbook, the Administrator Handbook, and the Support Staff Handbook.  Non-College groups or individuals acting in violation of this policy will be required to leave campus, and may be referred to the Gettysburg Police in the event of criminal action.  Any police arrests and criminal charges are separate from judicial actions at Gettysburg College.

8)    Communications Media

The principles of free inquiry, expression, and dissent enunciated above apply to student communications media of Gettysburg College.  The freedom of student editors and managers entails corollary responsibilities to be governed by the canons of responsible journalism, such as the avoidance of libel, slander, obscenity, undocumented allegations, and the techniques of harassment and innuendo.  All student communications media must explicitly state that the opinions there expressed are not necessarily those of the College or student body.

Editors and managers of student communications media are protected from arbitrary suspension or removal because of student, faculty, administrative, or public disapproval of editorial policy or content.  Orderly procedures for the selection and removal of editors and managers are established by the organization involved and subject to review by the Student Life Council or its delegate.

Since Gettysburg College assists student communications media by providing funds and facilities, it may incur legal liability for the content and operation of such publications.

Within the limits imposed by such canons of responsible journalism as are catalogued above, the College is committed to freedom of expression in order that student communications media may preserve their integrity of purpose.  When these limits are exceeded, the College reserves the right to take such action as may be necessary by virtue of its legal responsibility and its potential liability.

4.     Property

A.    College

Generally speaking, the facilities of Gettysburg College are for the use of all who comprise this institution.  For any member of the community to damage, destroy, or otherwise impair the effective use of these mutually shared facilities is to deny to others the full measure of their participation in this community.  The students of Gettysburg College have the right to the effective use of these facilities subject to reasonable regulation established by the College.  They have the corresponding responsibility to maintain these facilities unimpaired for the use of all.

B.    Personal

Theft, vandalism, or other abuse of individual personal property leads to the impairment of the community function through fear, disruptive suspicion, and a preoccupation with security measures.  Students of Gettysburg College have the right to expect their own individual personal property to be kept inviolate.  Students have the corresponding responsibility to maintain the individual personal property.

The College has a responsibility to protect its guests and authorized visitors from mistreatment or danger, and expects student cooperation in exercising that responsibility.

5.     Housing

A.      On-Campus
Gettysburg College is a residential college. All undergraduate students are required to live on-campus or in a College-related fraternity house, unless they commute from their parents/guardians' home or receive approval to reside off-campus.

B.      Off-Campus in Gettysburg
In February, students apply to live off-campus the following academic year. The Office of Residence Life reviews applications and informs applicants whether they have been approved to live off-campus. Students should not sign leases for off-campus accommodations before receiving approval (in writing) at the end of February. Students who sign leases without college authorization may end up paying for both on-campus and off-campus housing. Students will not be released from on-campus housing obligations due to unauthorized leases. Once approval is granted, the responsibility for securing suitable accommodations rests entirely on each student.  The College is not involved in borough inspections of non-College facilities and therefore cannot ascertain whether such facilities are safe, sanitary, or in compliance with local ordinances. The College does not provide residential services (including the Department of Public Safety) for those living off-campus. Students' landlords, the Gettysburg Code Enforcement Office and the Gettysburg Borough Police are among the many resources available to students living off-campus. Students residing off-campus are still subject to the College's Student Code of Conduct. The Director of Residence Life and Director of Public Safety work closely with the Gettysburg Borough Police, the Gettysburg Borough Code Enforcement Office and the Borough Council College Relations subcommittee. Communication between borough officials, college administrators, and students help maintain good relations between the Gettysburg Borough and Gettysburg College communities.

C.      Commuting
A commuter student is a student who lives with their parents or guardians within reasonable driving distance to campus.  Students must reside at the official parent/guardian address provided to the college (address submitted for financial aid and noted on the previous year's tax return). A student who is commuting must be classified as a commuter by the Office of Residence Life, the Office of Financial Aid, and the Office of Financial Services.