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Skidmore College
Political Science Department

Policy on Civility and Comportment in the Classroom

The classroom experience is the heart of liberal education, and as such is the most important aspect of your Skidmore College education. Presumably if you did not agree, you would not be attending Skidmore. The faculty of the Political Science Department takes this understanding as the basis of our educational efforts. It is in an attempt to honor the centrality of the classroom experience that we offer this department policy on civility and comportment.

As stated in the Student Handbook, your presence at Skidmore College is contingent upon your acceptance of, and full adherence to, the Skidmore College Honor Code. This honor code is distinct from the oath you take when writing a paper or taking an exam—it is in fact much more all-encompassing and demanding.

The Code includes the following statement: "I hereby accept membership in the Skidmore College community and, with full realization of the responsibilities inherent in membership, do agree to adhere to honesty and integrity in all relationships, to be considerate of the rights of others, and to abide by the College regulations." Elsewhere, the Code also calls all Skidmore students to "conform to high standards of fair play, integrity, and honor."

What does it mean to do act honestly, with integrity, and according to high standards of fair play, particularly in the classroom? In our view, it includes, minimally, the following:

  1. No student shall lessen the learning experience of others in the classroom by arriving late to class.
  2. No student shall lessen the learning experience of others in the classroom by leaving the classroom while class is in session, except for true medical emergencies.
  3. Cell phones must be turned off during class.
  4. No student shall disrupt the learning experience of others in the classroom by talking to a neighbor, writing notes to other students, reviewing one's mail, reading the newspaper, completing homework for other classes, or playing with the laptop computer, while class is in session.
  5. No student shall disrespect other Skidmore students, professors, or the housekeeping staff by putting feet on the desks or other furniture in the classroom, or by leaving trash, food, or recyclables in the room at the end of the class session.

    While we will hold all students to these minimal expectations, we also have some suggestions for those who seek to go beyond the bare minimum of civil classroom comportment to become the type of mature, responsible, active learners who are an asset to any classroom and society at large. These include the following:
  6. Every student should take copious and meaningful notes both on assigned readings and during classroom sessions. Note-taking is an important skill. If you do not already possess it, you should acquire it.
  7. Every student should take some time to review the notes that he or she has taken on the day's assigned reading before each class meeting. You will be amazed how much more invested and engaged in the class you will feel if you go into the classroom well-prepared.
  8. Disruptions in class can be a significant impediment to learning, and no member of the Skidmore community—including faculty and students—should tolerate them. Thus every student should take responsibility for holding his or her peers and classmates to both high academic standards and high standards of civility. If people around you are chatting, passing notes or otherwise detracting from the overall quality of your classroom experience, don't let them get away with it.
  9. Individual faculty members in the Political Science Department will determine the level of sanctions for disruptive behavior.