Rights and Responsibilities

The United States Constitution guarantees certain rights to all people living in this country. In general, international students in the United States enjoy most of the same constitutional protections as citizens and permanent residents. However, international students, like all non-immigrants, are subject to immigration laws that do not apply to citizens and permanent residents. These laws regulate non-immigrants’ entry to the United States, the conditions under which they may remain in the country and re-enter after traveling abroad, and eligibility for such immigration benefits as employment or change of status.

Basic rights

As provided by University policy or by law:

  • Students have the right to free inquiry, expression, and association.
  • Students should be free from discrimination and harassment based on race, sex, sexual orientation, age, color, national origin, religion, disability, marital status, or family status.
  • Students should be secure in their persons, living quarters, papers, and effects.
  • Students are protected against improper disclosure of, and access to, education records as provided for in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
  • Students are free to participate in the governance of the University through membership in appropriately designated University and college committees.
  • Students have the right to access their personal records and other University files as provided for under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

Academic rights and responsibilities

Students have those academic rights and responsibilities as described in the University catalogs, including but not limited to the following:

  • Student performance will be evaluated solely on academic criteria.
  • Students have protection against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation.
  • Students are free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled.
  • Students will be informed by the faculty about course requirements, evaluation procedures, and the academic criteria to be used in each class. This information will be provided at the beginning of the semester or sufficiently in advance of actual evaluation.

WMU Student Code

All WMU students are required to follow and observe all guidelines spelled out in WMU's Student Code.

A student who chooses to enroll at Western Michigan University assumes the obligation for conduct that is compatible with the University’s mission as an educational institution. While students have the privilege to enroll at an institution of their choice, choosing to enroll at Western Michigan University requires a student to become aware of, and to abide by the behavior standards of the University. Ignorance of acceptable boundaries of student behavior as contained in the Student Code is not basis for excusing inappropriate behavior. The Student Code describes the boundaries of acceptable student behavior and is approved by the Board of Trustees. The Office of Student Judicial Affairs interprets and enforces the Student Code.

While any violation of the Student Code is considered a serious matter, certain violations are considered to be of an especially serious nature. These violations include acts of academic dishonesty, any acts that disrupt the functions of the University, and any acts that threaten the health or safety of any member of the University community or any other person. Students involved in these activities are considered a threat to the orderly functioning of the University and their behavior is considered detrimental to the educational mission.

Generally, University jurisdiction and discipline shall be limited to conduct which occurs on University premises. The University may take action in off-campus situations involving: student misconduct demonstrating flagrant disregard for any person or persons; or when a student’s or student organization’s behavior is judged to threaten the health, safety, and/or property of any individual or group; or any other activity which adversely affects the University community and/or the pursuit of its objectives.

WMU policy on sexual harassment and sexism

All WMU students are required to follow and observe all guidelines spelled out in WMU's policy on sexual harassment and sexism.

Western Michigan University is committed to an environment which encourages fair, humane, and beneficial treatment of all faculty, staff, and students. In accordance with that fundamental objective, the University has a continuing commitment to assure equal opportunity and to prohibit discrimination or harassment which violates the law or which constitutes inappropriate or unprofessional limitation of employment opportunity, University facility access, or participation in University activities, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, protected disability, veteran status, height, weight, or marital status. Therefore, in that same perspective, sexual harassment will not be tolerated at Western Michigan University. It is expected that each member of the University community will consider herself/himself responsible for the proper observance of this policy.

Resources for victims of sexual assault

YWCA Domestic and Sexual Assault Program and 24-hour crisis line: (269) 385-3587

Western Michigan University recognizes that sexual assault is a serious social problem that occurs among college students as well as within other segments of our society. The University makes a strong commitment to work toward preventing sexual assault within our community, to provide support and assistance to sexual assault victims, and to impose sanctions on those who have been found responsible for a sexual assault. Our goal is to foster and protect an environment of mutual respect and concern and a safe community in which learning and growth can occur. As used here, the term “sexual assault” is synonymous with the University’s definition of “sexual misconduct,” as stated in the Student Code, Article IV: Proscribed Conduct, B. Conduct Policies, item 15, Sexual Misconduct. Please refer to the entire policy on sexual harassment from the WMU Student Code to learn more about resources for victims of sexual assault, prevention efforts, how to respond to a sexual assault, and support for victims. You may also contact the Office of Student Conduct at any time. Taken from Western Michigan University Student Code, Published by the Office of Student Conduct.

WMU Statement of Religious Freedom and Respect

Western Michigan University is home to international students from several countries and international students of all religious backgrounds are welcome members of the student community. International students are fully entitled to the same freedoms and respect accorded to all students on our campus. Religious activities are encouraged on campus and the WMU Board of Trustees has affirmed that funding for student organizations should be "viewpoint neutral;" no political or religious group has more rights or restrictions than any other. It is official campus policy that WMU respect the religious backgrounds of its students, staff and faculty and that it makes necessary and reasonable provisions to accommodate the exercise of religious beliefs. Students will be excused from class for the purpose of observing major religious holidays without penalty provided the student has made such a request in writing at least two weeks in advance to the class instructor. Missed class time because of major religious observances does not excuse the student from class work or examinations. The student must provide faculty with a two week formal, written request identifying how completion of the course work will be accomplished. Faculty will provide students making such written requests with a reasonable amount of time to make up the work missed in each class. Churches, synagogues, and mosques in the Kalamazoo Community welcome student participation. Muslim students are welcome at the Kalamazoo Islamic Center (http://www.kiconline.org/ ) on West Michigan Avenue near campus. No student at WMU, including international students, should be discriminated against on the basis of religion or experience disrespect or persecution because of religious beliefs or practices.  In the United States there are laws that protect religious freedom, starting with the Bill of Rights.  For instance, according to Michigan and U.S. law, landlords may not discriminate against tenants because of their religious beliefs. Open discussion of religious beliefs is common in the university setting, yet no student should be required to participate in such discussions.  No student should be pressured by classmates, professors, or community members to hold specific religious beliefs or to attend or to join religious functions.

American legal system

The American legal system is very different from legal systems in other countries. The person being accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty by the state beyond a reasonable doubt. Attorney-client communications are confidential, meaning your conversations with your attorney are strictly private. International students must follow the same laws as Americans. If you break the law, you will be treated the same as an American. If you are found guilty of a crime, you may be deported and may lose your rights to return to the United States.

These are some examples that can get you in serious trouble with the law and may have you arrested:

  • Fighting in public
  • Acts of violence
  • Carrying a weapon
  • Carrying an open alcohol container in public
  • Underage drinking (you MUST be 21 years old to purchase and to drink alcoholic beverages)
  • DUI (Driving Under the Influence of any incapacitating substance)
  • Distribution, use, or possession of any illegal drug or controlled substance
  • Urinating in public