Many of the rights that the university grants to you are detailed in the Golden Rule Student Handbook and Graduate Catalog (rights to privacy, assembly, appeals, etc.). All students have the right to due process. Students who believe they have been treated unfairly may initiate a grievance. The procedure provides several levels of review and is designed to provide an unbiased review of circumstances. Students should review the Golden Rule Student Handbook for information on conduct regulations and related procedures and resources.
Upon enrollment, students are entitled to the following freedoms and/or rights provided they comply with university procedures that do not result in disruption or disturbance as elsewhere described in the rules.
- Participation in student government and its elective process.
- Membership in student organizations.
- Freedom of expression.
- Freedom to hold public forums.
- Freedom to hear, write, distribute and act upon a variety of thought and beliefs .
- Peaceful assembly.
- Fair and impartial hearing.
- Confidentiality of student records - For information about your privacy rights, please see Student Rights to Privacy (FERPA).
- Student grievances.
- Provisions for victims or survivors of acts of violence.
- Students rights during the judicial process.
However, there are some other rights as a graduate student you should be aware of. This section will talk about the other rights that you have that are not of a legal nature, but will improve your experiences if you are aware of them.
The Right to Change Advisers
Sometimes you may have difficulties working with your adviser. Most of the time conflict between students and their adviser stems from communication difficulties or differences in personality.
At your first meeting with your faculty adviser you should ask how to best communicate with him/her and then always be sure to honor these preferences. Healthy debate about the field is expected and normal for your interactions with both your adviser and your advisory committee. However, sometimes differences in personality can make it difficult to accept advice or to formulate future plans for research. At this point, you may want to learn more about conflict resolution and use this approach to try to resolve the differences.
If the situation between you and your faculty advisory committee has to do with harassment or illegal matters, you must report this to your program director or the College of Graduate Studies at once.
An interest-based approach to conflict resolution as described in Fisher and Ury* may prove helpful. Their guidance suggests:
- Separate you and your adviser from the issue or conflict. Focus instead on the problem to be solved.
- Focus on the interests of both you and your adviser to identify options for solving the problem.
- Brainstorm options and possible solutions that promote both your interest and your faculty adviser’s common interests.
- Establish an ongoing discussion so that the conflict can continue to be worked on.
* Roger Fisher and William Ury, 1991, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Second Edition, Penguin Books.
If this approach does not work for you or if you are experiencing health-related problems from the conflict that has arisen, please see your program director.
The most serious cases usually occur when you may seek to leave an adviser’s laboratory for another adviser, or leave the program in favor of another program, or leave the university. This scenario creates a conflict between your responsibility to your adviser or program, who may have invested time and money in you, and your right to seek a change if you become seriously disgruntled with the current arrangement.
You do have the right to change your adviser if there is an irresolvable conflict. In order to do this, please see your program director or the College of Graduate Studies for guidance on the appropriate steps to take. A problem that may arise is if you are supported by your current adviser and you require financial support to continue. Your program director can work with you to try to find alternative forms of financial support, although it is not guaranteed.
Often a student who has changed advisers goes on to do well in the program and to finish the degree.
The Right to Change Committee Members
Please see your faculty adviser or program director if you believe it necessary to change a dissertation or thesis advisory committee member.
The Right of Notice with Regard to a Graduate Assistantship
Adequate written warning must be sent to you if you are a graduate assistant and the program has already talked with you about terminating your assistantship because of incompetence or misconduct. If you have received notice in writing that your assistantship will be terminated due to these reasons, please consult with your program director about your options.
The Right to Request an Appeal
Under university rules, students may request exceptions to certain of the graduate policies. Should you wish to do so, please consult with your program director first to ascertain if an exception is allowed and if the program director will support this action. If the request is supportable and one where a petition is allowed, you may prepare the request to the Graduate Council Appeals Committee.
A general dissatisfaction with the Committee’s decision is not adequate grounds for an appeal. New information with supporting documentation that further illustrates your original explanation must be provided to the Committee for consideration. Thoroughness is extremely important to the appeal process. Be sure all additional and necessary facts are included as well as all possible sources of documentation.
The Right to Change Your Graduate Catalog Year
If you would like to change your catalog year from the time that you have entered your graduate program to a later year, please see your program director. There are usually pros and cons to this change, particularly if the program has made significant changes to the curriculum, so it is best to discuss this with your program director. Often you may want to take new courses with the new catalog year that would benefit your education experience. The university does not allow changes to the catalog year previous to the term of your enrollment.
The Right to Full Information about Financial Aid Programs
Students have the right to full information about the financial aid programs available at UCF, our application procedures and aid deadlines, and the criteria used to determine a financial aid package. Students have the right to appeal decisions made by the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Students have the right to equitable treatment of their financial assistance applications.
Although each student's case is analyzed individually, eligibility standards are applied uniformly without regard to race, gender, religion, creed, national origin, or physical handicap. All students' records are confidential. It is the student's responsibility to review and understand all information and instructions, meet all deadlines, and provide all information and documentation accurately. Errors and omissions can cause delays and prevent students from receiving assistance. Misrepresentation is a violation of the law.