August 10th, 2020
Dear Bobcat parent and family members,
In my last email, I talked about MSU's face-covering requirement for all students, employees, and visitors while inside campus buildings. We have focused much time, energy and resources on a number of educational efforts to ensure that everyone on campus is aware of the requirement. Beyond our educational efforts, students will be held accountable for non-compliance through the University's code of student conduct.
Now, if you've heard me speak about the University's conduct process, you know that we work at MSU to find a balance between student rights and student responsibilities. We take student rights very seriously on campus, including our students' right to privacy as protected by the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA). I'll be discussing more of the particulars included under FERPA later this fall.
Throughout much of the history of American higher education, college students were not afforded adult legal rights, even those rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. During the era of In Loco Parentis - the original legal term for the relationship between a college and their students - students were treated like children, in the custody and care of their college or university. This legal relationship between students and their college or university has evolved significantly during the last 60 years. Today, college students are afforded much stronger adult rights on campus such as due process, freedom of speech, press and assembly rights, just to name a few.
If you'd like to read more about the changes in the legal relationship between college students and their institution, I recommend this summary of the history of In Loco Parentis published by the Chronicle of Higher Education. I shared this article with parents last year, and I think it's worthwhile revisiting this fall.
This article does an excellent job explaining how colleges and universities work to facilitate our students' understanding of campus and community standards. And, how at the end of the day, our job is to both support students during their journey through college, while challenging them to improve their communication and conflict resolution skills. Just as you encouraged your child to take risks and try new things when they were younger, we strive to support your student as they step out of their comfort zone to face new and different challenging situations.
Later this week, I will follow up with additional information about how our code of student conduct at MSU works to further our students' development and growth. And, how we offer students educational opportunities to learn from their mistakes, which ideally is a life-long lesson.
Matthew R. Caires
P.S. Did you see President Cruzado's email about the $20M in state funding that Governor Bullock has allocated for the Montana University System to beef up our COVID-19 testing this fall? Read more about this important development HERE.