The following academic policies are of particular importance to faculty and students as they navigate the academic year. Please do not hesitate to write to Ron Seyb at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about any of the policies listed below.
Students with Disabilities
In typical years, 10-12% of Skidmore students provide documentation related to a physical, psychological, or learning disability that qualifies them for academic accommodation. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires us to provide students with disabilities both meaningful access to all college programs and activities and any individualized accommodation they need to realize an equal opportunity to succeed.
Faculty have a responsibility to inform students with disabilities about the process of accessing accommodations. The Curriculum Committee asks that faculty include a statement on each syllabus that encourages students to consult with Student Academic Services if they have a disability. Such a statement will establish a line of communication with your students and indicate to them that you are open to discussing their disability and need for accommodation. An example of such a statement follows:
"If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need academic accommodation, you must formally request accommodation from Meg Hegener, Coordinator of Student Access Services. You will also need to provide documentation which verifies the existence of a disability and supports your request. For further information, please call 580-8150 or stop by the office of Student Academic Services in Starbuck Center."
When confronting an apparent violation of the Honor Code, faculty may find it helpful to refer to the Academic Integrity Handbook. Faculty should bear in mind that the grade penalties described in this document are guidelines. Faculty have final authority over each student's grade in this as in other contexts. If faculty wish to work outside the guidelines—for example, by adopting a "zero tolerance" policy on plagiarism that results in a failing grade regardless of the severity of the offense—faculty should state this policy on their syllabi. Faculty should also consider explicitly discussing with their students the limits of collaboration and their expectations about the proper documentation of sources, two areas that often lead to inadvertent (but still egregious) violations of the Honor Code.
Faculty should be mindful that all violations of the Academic Honor Code must be reported. If the charge is sustained, the infraction may have consequences for the student beyond any grade penalty that the faculty member imposes. A thorough description of these consequences, along with a description of the limited forgiveness and appeal policies, can be found in the Sanctions and Further Impact document.
Title IX Statement
The Curriculum Committee recommends that faculty include a Title IX statement on their syllabi. Such a statement signals our concern about sexual and gender-based misconduct in the Skidmore community and informs students about the reporting obligations of faculty. The statement recommended by the Student Government Association and endorsed by the Curriculum Committee is as follows:
Skidmore College considers sexual and gender-based misconduct to be one of the most serious violations of the values and standards of the College. Unwelcome sexual contact of any form is a violation of students’ personal integrity and their right to a safe environment and therefore violates Skidmore’s values. Sexual and gender-based misconduct is also prohibited by federal regulations. Skidmore College faculty are committed to supporting our students and upholding gender equity laws as outlined by Title IX. If a student chooses to confide in a member of Skidmore’s faculty or staff regarding an issue of sexual or gender-based misconduct, that faculty or staff member is obligated to tell Skidmore’s Title IX Coordinator or Title IX Deputy Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator will assist the student in connecting with all possible resources for support and reporting both on and off campus. Identities and details will be shared only with those who need to know to support the student and to address the situation through the college’s processes. If the student wishes to confide in a confidential resource, The Counseling Center Staff, Health Services, and Victim Advocates are all options available.
More information can be found at https://www.skidmore.edu/sgbm/ or by contacting the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator.
Every year, a number of faculty contact the Associate Dean of the Faculty for Student Academic Affairs about students and colleagues who appear to disregard the academic calendar (e.g., advisees who struggle to complete final exams administered during the last week of class or during Study Days, students who seem to have rescheduled their exams so that they may enjoy an early start to their summer break, etc.).
Although some exceptions to the academic calendar are justified by the special (emergency) needs of students and faculty, many exceptions appear to be granted for less compelling reasons. This situation is problematic for several reasons. The college has an obligation to meet its own and State Ed's standards for the amount of instructional time worthy of credit. As important, the routine granting of special exceptions raises questions of academic rigor and fairness, especially for faculty and students who adhere to the full academic calendar.
A few reminders:
- By faculty legislation, "written final examinations may not be given in whole or in part prior to the scheduled examination period." Although individual instructors have every right to schedule quizzes, hourly exams, and written assignments at the times they deem appropriate during the semester, final exams—those more cumulative and culminating tests which can be construed as "final" in nature—should be reserved for the final exam period. The final exam period may also be used to schedule non-cumulative exams, critiques, and projects. The goal is to preserve the last week of the semester for instructional time and allow students to handle their end-of-semester load by utilizing Study Days.
- Skidmore policy does not allow the scheduling of events during Study Days (including the Study Day in October of the fall term) that would distract students from study and review opportunities. Faculty may not hold exams and final presentations during this period. Review sessions to prepare for exams are acceptable as long as they are not mandatory. Additionally, curricular and co-curricular activities that are not directly related to academic work should not be scheduled by any department, program, office, or committee.
- Faculty and students are required to adhere to the published schedule for final exams. The final exam schedule is published early in the semester by the Registrar's Office and cannot be changed except when "conflicts" exist (defined as two exams in the same time slot or three exams during the same day). A student's travel arrangements do not constitute a conflict. Faculty who anticipate difficulty meeting the grade submission deadline should contact the Registrar's Office to discuss alternatives.
- The Monday and Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving are instructional days. Faculty should not cancel class or excuse absences during this period. Making special exceptions puts pressure on faculty colleagues to do the same and dissuades students from honoring the full academic calendar.
Faculty should not place graded student assignments that are not enclosed in a sealed envelope in the box on their office doors or in any unsecured area. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act gives students the right to control disclosure of their education record. We thus have a legal obligation to ensure that we are careful not to provide others with access to students’ grades without their consent.