Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy

As members of the Whatcom Community College community, students have an obligation to demonstrate academic and personal honesty and integrity. Students are expected to respect individual rights, recognize their impact on others, and take responsibility for their actions. Students may be subject to disciplinary action for any activity that unreasonably disrupts the operations of the college or infringes on the rights of another member of the college community. Students are prohibited from engaging in any unlawful conduct and may be subject to criminal or civil prosecution. The college may impose disciplinary sanctions against a student who commits, or aids, abets, incites, encourages, or assists another person to commit acts of misconduct, as defined by the Student Conduct Code. The purpose of the student code is to hold students accountable while upholding their rights and responsibilities. 

The Student Code shall apply to student conduct that occurs on college premises, to conduct that occurs at or in connection with college sponsored activities, or to off-campus conduct that in the judgement of the college adversely affects the college community or the pursuit of its objectives. The jurisdiction extends to such place and activities as:

  • College sponsored foreign or domestic travel
  • Activities funded by ASWCC
  • Athletic events
  • Training internships, practicums, and student employment
  • Cooperative and distance education
  • Online

Download Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy

Rights and Responsibilities

As members of the Whatcom Community College community, students have an obligation to demonstrate academic and personal honesty and integrity. Students are expected to respect individual rights, recognize their impact on others, and take responsibility for their actions. Students may be subject to disciplinary action for any activity that unreasonably disrupts the operations of the college or infringes on the rights of another member of the college community. Students are prohibited from engaging in any unlawful conduct and may be subject to criminal or civil prosecution. The college may impose disciplinary sanctions against a student who commits, or aids, abets, incites, encourages, or assists another person to commit acts of misconduct, as defined by the Student Conduct Code. The purpose of the student code is to hold students accountable while upholding their rights and responsibilities.

Statement of Student Rights

The following enumerated rights are guaranteed to each student within the limitations of statutory law and college policy, which are deemed necessary to achieve the education goals of the college:

1. Academic freedom.

  1. Students are guaranteed the rights of free inquiry, expression, and assembly upon and within college facilities that are generally open and available to the public.
  2. Students are free to pursue appropriate educational objectives from among the college’s curricula, programs, and services, subject to the limitations of RCW 28B.50.090(3)(b).
  3. Students shall be protected from academic evaluation which is arbitrary, prejudiced, or capricious but are responsible for meeting the standards of academic performance established by each of their instructors.
  4. Students have the right to a learning environment which is free from unlawful discrimination, inappropriate and disrespectful conduct, and any and all harassment, including sexual harassment.

2. Due process

  1. The rights of students to be secure in their persons, quarters, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures is guaranteed.
  2. No sanction may be imposed on any student without notice to the accused of the nature of the charges.
  3. A student accused of violating this code of student conduct is entitled, upon request, to procedural due process as set forth in this chapter.

3. Sexual Misconduct Complainant. In any case involving an allegation of sexual misconduct as defined in this code, a complainant is afforded certain rights under this code including, but not limited to:

  1. The right to be informed of all orders issued in the disciplinary case in which they are a complainant;
  2. The right to appeal to the student conduct committee an initial order issued by a conduct officer;
  3. The right to request presidential review of an initial order issued by the student conduct committee; and
  4. The right to be accompanied to all hearings by an advisor and/or an attorney
Student Responsibility for Guests

Guests and visitors on college property or at official college functions are expected to comply with all college policies and procedures, as well as all applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations. 1. Guests who willfully refuse to comply with an order of a college official or other law enforcement officer to desist from prohibited conduct may be ejected from the premises by legal trespass order. 2. Students who invite guests into their college controlled residence, or to official college functions are responsible for the behavior of their guests. As a result, a student may be held responsible for any alleged violations(s) of the code committed by their guest.

Amnesty

Students are encouraged to see swift medical assistance for themselves and others without fear of penalty in situations involving use of, or medical-issues related to, alcohol or drugs. Students requesting and receiving medical assistance in these situations will not typically be subject to the formal student conduct process. While disciplinary action may not be taken, the college reserves the right to take steps necessary to address health and safety concerns for the individual and the community. This policy refers to isolated incidents and does not excuse students who repeatedly or knowingly violate the alcohol or drug policy, nor does it preclude action arising from other violations of the code. The student conduct officer will consider the positive impact of reporting a situation when determine any course of action. Complainants and witnesses who, in good faith, report sexual misconduct will not be subject to alcohol or drug violations of the code occurring at or near the time of the sexual misconduct unless their own conduct placed another person’s health or safety at risk.

Academic Dishonesty

Any act of academic dishonesty, including but not limited to cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication:

  1. Cheating includes any attempt to give or obtain unauthorized collaboration relating to the completion of an academic assignment.
  2. Plagiarism includes taking and using as one’s own, without proper attribution, the ideas, writings, or work of another person in completing an academic assignment. Prohibited conduct may also include the unauthorized submission for credit of academic work that has been submitted for credit in another course.
  3. Fabrication includes falsifying data, information, or citations in completing an academic assignment and also includes providing false or deceptive information to an instructor concerning the completion of an assignment. (2) Other dishonesty. Any other act of dishonesty, including, but are not limited to: a) Forgery, alteration, submission of falsified documents or misuse of any college document, record, or instrument of identification; b) Tampering with an election conducted by or for college students; c) Furnishing false information, or failing to furnish correct information, in response to the request or requirement of a college officer or employee.
Other Dishonesty

Any other act of dishonesty, including, but are not limited to:

  1. Forgery, alteration, submission of falsified documents or misuse of any college document, record, or instrument of identification;
  2. Tampering with an election conducted by or for college students;
  3. Furnishing false information, or failing to furnish correct information, in response to the request or requirement of a college officer or employee.
Disruptive Behavior

Behavior not otherwise protected by law, that interferes with, impedes, or otherwise unreasonably hinders the following:

  1. Instruction, services, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings, or other college activities, including the obstruction of the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular movement on college property or at a college activity; or
  2. Any activity that is authorized to occur on college property or under college jurisdiction, whether or not actually conducted or sponsored by the college.
Assault or Intimidation

Unwanted touching, physical abuse, verbal abuse, threat(s), intimidation, harassment, bullying, or other conduct which harms, threatens, or is reasonably perceived as threatening the health or safety of another person or another person’s property. Bullying is physical or verbal abuse, repeated over time, and involves a power imbalance between the aggressor and victim.

Cyber Misconduct

Use of electronic communication, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, instant messaging, electronic bulletin boards, and social media sites, to harass, abuse, bully or engage in other conduct which harms, threatens, or is reasonably perceived as threatening the health or safety of another person. Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to, unauthorized monitoring of another’s email communications directly or through spyware, sending threatening emails, disrupting electronic communications with spam or by sending a computer virus, correspondence using another’s identity, non-consensual recording of sexual activity, and nonconsensual distribution of a recording of sexual activity.

Property Violation

Damage to, misappropriation of, unauthorized use or possession of, vandalism, or other non-accidental damaging or destruction of college property or property of another person. Property for the purposes of this subsection includes, but is not limited to, computer passwords, access codes, identification cards, personal financial account numbers, other confidential personal information, intellectual property, and college copyrights and trademarks.

Failure to Comply with Directive

Failure to comply with a directive of a college officer or employee who is acting in the legitimate performance of their duties, including failure to properly identify oneself to such a person when requested to do so.

Weapons

Possession, holding, wearing, transporting, storage or presence of any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, explosive device, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm is prohibited on the college campus, subject to the following exceptions:

  1. Commissioned law enforcement personnel or legally authorized military personal while in performance of their duties;
  2. A student with a valid concealed weapons permit may store a pistol in their vehicle parked on campus in accordance with RCW 9.41.050(2) or (3), provided the vehicle is locked and the weapon is concealed from view; or
  3. The president may grant permission to bring a weapon on campus upon a determination that the weapon is reasonably related to a legitimate pedagogical purpose. Such permission shall be in writing and shall be subject to such terms or conditions incorporated in the written permission.
  4. This policy does not apply to the possession and/or use of legal disabling chemical sprays when possessed and/or used for self defense.
Hazing
Hazing includes, but is not limited to, any initiation into a student organization or any pastime or amusement engaged in with respect to such an organization that causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger or physical harm, or serious mental or emotional harm.
Alcohol, Drug and Tobacco Violations
  1. Alcohol. The use, possession, sale, or being under the influence of any alcoholic beverage, except as permitted by law and applicable college policies.
  2. Marijuana. The use, possession, or sale of marijuana or the psychoactive compounds found in marijuana and intended for human consumption, regardless of form, or being under the influence of marijuana or the psychoactive compounds found in marijuana or the possession of drug paraphernalia. While state law permits the recreational use of marijuana, federal law prohibits such use on college premises or in connection with college activities.
  3. Drugs. The use, possession, delivery, sale, or the appearance of being under the influence of any legend drug, including anabolic steroids, androgens, or human growth hormones as defined in RCW 69.41, or any other controlled substance under RCW 69.50, except as prescribed for a student’s use by a licensed practitioner.
  4. Tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and related products. The use of tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and related products in any building owned, leased or operated by the college or in any location where such use is prohibited, including twenty-five feet from entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes of any building owned, leased or operated by the college. “Related products” include, but are not limited to cigarettes, pipes, bidi, clove cigarettes, water pipes, hookahs, chewing tobacco, vaporizers, and snuff.
Lewd Conduct
Conduct which is obscene, indecent, pornographic and/or lascivious that is not otherwise protected under the law.
Discriminatory Conduct
Conduct which harms or adversely affects any member of the college community because of race; color; national origin; sensory, mental, or physical disability; use of a service animal; age; religion; creed; gender, including pregnancy; marital status; genetic information; sexual orientation; gender identity; veteran’s status; or any other legally protected classification.
Sexual Misconduct

The term “sexual misconduct” includes sexual harassment, sexual intimidation, and sexual violence.

  1. Sexual harassment. The term “sexual harassment” means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently serious as to deny or limit, and does deny or limit, based on sex, the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the college’s educational program or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for other campus community members.
  2. Sexual Intimidation. The term “Sexual intimidation” incorporates the definition of “sexual harassment” and means threatening or emotionally distressing conduct based on sex, including, but not limited to, nonconsensual recording of sexual activity or the distribution of such recording.
  3. Sexual violence. “Sexual violence” is a type of sexual discrimination and harassment. Nonconsensual sexual intercourse, nonconsensual sexual contact, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking are all types of sexual violence.
  1. Nonconsensual sexual intercourse is any sexual intercourse (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual intercourse includes anal or vaginal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or object, or oral copulation by mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact.
  2. Nonconsensual sexual contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual touching includes any bodily contact with the breast, groin, mouth, or other bodily orifice of another individual, or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner.
  3. Domestic violence includes asserted violent misdemeanor and felony offenses committed by the victim’s current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, person similarly situated under domestic or family violence laws, or anyone else protected under domestic family violence law.
  4. Dating violence means violence by a person who has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim. Whether there was such relationship will be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction.
  5. Stalking means intentional and repeated harassment or following of another person, which places that person in reasonable fear that the perpetrator intends to injure, intimidate, or harass that person. Stalking also includes instances where the perpetrator knows or reasonably should know that the person is frightened, intimidated, or harassed, even if the perpetrator lacks such intent.
  6. Consent means knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Each party has the responsibility to make certain that the other has consented before engaging in the activity. For consent to be valid, there must be at the time of the act of sexual intercourse or sexual contact actual words or conduct indicating freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact. A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep, or unconscious for any reason, including due to alcohol or other drugs. An individual who engages in sexual activity when the individual knows, or should know, that the other person is physically or mentally incapacitated has engaged in nonconsensual conduct. Intoxication is not a defense against allegations that an individual has engaged in nonconsensual sexual conduct.
Harassment
Unwelcome and offensive conduct, including verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct, that is directed at a person because of such person’s protected status and that is sufficiently serious as to deny or limit, and that does deny or limit, the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the college’s educational program or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for other campus community members. Protected status includes a person’s race; color; national origin; sensory, mental, or physical disability; use of a service animal; age; religion; genetic information; gender, including pregnancy, marital status; sexual orientation; gender identity; veteran’s status; or any other legally protected classification. See “Sexual Misconduct” for the definition of “sexual harassment.” Harassing conduct may include, but is not limited to, physical conduct, verbal, written, social media and electronic communications.
Retaliation
Harming, threatening, intimidating, coercing, or taking adverse action of any kind against a person because such person reported an alleged violation of this code or college policy, provided information about an alleged violation, or participated as a witness or in any other capacity in a college investigation or disciplinary proceeding.
Misuse of Electronic Resources

Theft or other misuse of computer time or other electronic information resources of the college. Such misuse includes but is not limited to:

  1. Unauthorized use of such resources or opening of file, message, or other item;
  2. Unauthorized duplication, transfer, or distribution of a computer program, file, message, or other item;
  3. Unauthorized use or distribution of someone else’s password or other identification;
  4. Use of such time or resources to interfere with someone else’s work;
  5. Use of such time or resources to send, display, or print an obscene or abusive message, text, or image;
  6. Use of such time or resources to interfere with normal operation of the college’s computing system or other electronic information resources;
  7. Use of such time or resources in violation of applicable copyright or other law;
  8. Adding to or otherwise altering the infrastructure of the college’s electronic information resources without authorization;
  9. Failure to comply with the college’s electronic use policy.
Unauthorized Access
Unauthorized possession, duplication, or other use of a key, keycard, or other restricted means of access to college property, or unauthorized entry onto or into college property.
Saety Violation
Safety violation includes any non-accidental or negligent conduct that interferes with or otherwise compromises any college policy, equipment, or procedure relating to the safety and security of self or the campus community, including tampering with fire safety equipment and triggering false alarms or other emergency response systems. A safety violation may include the operation of any motor vehicle on college property in an unsafe manner or in a manner which is reasonably perceived as threatening the health or safety of another person.
Violation of Other Laws and Policies
Violation of any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation or other college rules or policies.
Ethical Violation
The breach of any generally recognized and published code of ethics or standards of professional practice that governs the conduct of a particular profession for which the student is taking a course or is pursuing as an educational goal or major. In addition to initiating discipline proceedings for violation of the student conduct code, the college may refer any violations of federal, state or local laws to civil and criminal authorities for disposition. The college shall proceed with student disciplinary proceedings regardless of whether the underlying conduct is subject to civil or criminal prosecution.
Sanctions

A primary objective of the disciplinary process is to promote the personal and social development of those students found responsible for misconduct. Charges are investigated and resolved in a forum of candor, civility, and fairness. Disciplinary actions include, but are not limited to:

  1. Disciplinary warning. A verbal statement to a student that there is a violation and that continued violation may be cause for further disciplinary action.
  2. Written reprimand. Notice in writing that the student has violated one or more terms of this code of conduct and that continuation of the same or similar behavior may result in more severe disciplinary action.
  3. Disciplinary probation. Formal action placing specific conditions and restrictions upon the student’s continued attendance depending upon the seriousness of the violation. Probation may be for a specific period of time or for the duration of the student’s enrollment at the college.
  4. Disciplinary suspension. Dismissal from the college and from the student status for a stated period of time. There may be no refund of tuition or fees for the quarter in which the action is taken.
  5. Dismissal. The revocation of all rights and privileges of membership in the college community and exclusion from the campus and college-owned or controlled facilities without any possibility of return. There will be no refund of tuition or fees for the quarter in which the action is taken.
  6. Educational Activity. A student may be required to engage in educational activities related to violation(s). Such activities may include, but are not limited to, attendance at educational programs, community services, project or written assignments, and/or meeting with campus officials.
  7. Loss of Privileges. A student may be denied specific privileges on a temporary or permanent basis such as participating in specific activities or restriction from specific areas of campus.
  8. Restitution. Reimbursement for damage to or misappropriation of property, or for injury to persons, or for reasonable costs incurred by the college in pursuing an investigation or disciplinary proceedings.
  9. Professional Evaluation. Referral for drug, alcohol, psychological or medical evaluation by an appropriately certified or licensed professional may be required. The student may choose the professional within the scope of practice and with the professional credentials as defined by the college. The student will sign all necessary releases to allow the college access to any such evaluation. The student’s return to college may be conditional upon compliance with the recommendations set forth in such a professional evaluation. If the evaluation indicates that the student is not capable of functioning within the college community, the student will remain suspended until further evaluation recommends that the student is capable of reentering the college and complying with the rules of conduct.
  10. Administrative No-Contact Order. An order directing a student to have no contact with a specified student, college employee, a member of the college community, or a particular college facility.
  11. Student Housing Relocation. Students who are living in college-controlled or administered housing may be transferred to alternate college-controlled or administered housing.
  12. Termination of Student Housing Contract. A student may be removed from their college-controlled housing and their housing contract terminated.
Appeals
The respondent may appeal a disciplinary action by filing a written notice of appeal with the conduct review officer within ten (10) business days of hand delivery and/or postmark of the student conduct officer’s decision. Failure to file timely constitutes a waiver of the right to appeal and the student conduct officer’s decision shall be deemed final. The notice of appeal must include a brief statement about why the student is seeking appeal.