The following statement is excerpted from a longer document adopted by the faculty, October 7, 1968, to clarify the rights and responsibilities of students in the University.
The purpose of this statement is to affirm those basic principles that underlie, and to state those policies and procedures that define, the rights and responsibilities of the student in the University. These principles hold with equal force for undergraduate and graduate students, although their application may lead to different administrative arrangements reflecting differences in these two groups.
As constituents of the academic community, students are expected, individually and collectively, to express their views on issues of institutional policy and on matters of general interest to the student body. As expressed through informal consultation with the president, other officers of the University, and members of the faculty, student views are especially valuable and will always play an essential role in the formulation of policies affecting student interests. These officers of the University are also available to discuss any matters of importance with any student organization. In addition to these important channels of communication it now seems appropriate to provide other means through which students can make useful contributions to decisions that are of special interest and relevance to their academic, cultural, and social life at Princeton.
Several purposes are served by student participation in processes by which decisions are reached in the University. Their assessment of academic needs and interests and their suggestions for strengthening the academic program contribute to the continuing efforts of the trustees, administration, and faculty to improve the effectiveness of a Princeton education. By drawing on the ideas and talents of students to a greater extent, the cultural and intellectual life of the campus outside the classroom can be stimulated and these activities made more responsive to their perceived needs. And although students now bear substantial responsibility for determining and applying rules of social conduct, there is reason to believe that they can make further contributions that will enhance the conditions of individual and social life at Princeton. Finally, the availability to students of wider opportunities for sharing in appropriate decision-making functions will have a significant educational value in enlisting their mature and responsible attention to problems that necessarily have counterparts in the wider world community. For these several reasons, the University community will continue to seek clearly defined means for the student body to participate in the formulation and application of institutional policy affecting academic and student affairs.
The following paragraphs are excerpted from Rules and Procedures of the Faculty, 2021.
Attendance at Faculty Meetings
Meetings of the faculty shall normally be open for attendance as observers to representatives of the campus press; to members of the Executive Committee of the Undergraduate Student Government; to members of the Executive Committee of the Graduate Student Government; to members of the Council of the Princeton University Community; to the Officers of the Corporation; and to the deputy, associate, and assistant deans of the Faculty, Graduate School, of the College, and of Student Life. Observers shall not attempt by word or deed to influence the proceedings. Meetings may be broadcast on campus radio, subject to the conditions of confidentiality specified below. Members of University or faculty committees who have been invited to appear in connection with a committee report, and other guests who have been invited by the president shall normally be free to remain during the whole session to which they have been invited. All in attendance shall be bound to preserve the confidentiality of any portion of a meeting that has been designated confidential by a motion to that effect, duly approved; and, any session may be declared closed to observers, in whole or in part, on the vote of a two-thirds majority of the Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy or on the request of one-third of the members of the faculty present and voting.
Faculty Reconsideration of Proposals Regarding Undergraduate Curriculum
The faculty shall consider a second vote on any action taken on a proposal regarding the undergraduate curriculum when a second vote has been requested by the Caucus of the Undergraduate Student Government. In any particular academic year, the faculty commits itself to a second vote on any action on a proposal regarding the undergraduate curriculum when, within 30 days exclusive of vacations after such action, a second vote has been requested by a two-thirds majority of the Caucus of the Undergraduate Student Government. In requesting reconsideration, the Caucus of the Undergraduate Student Government shall normally ask that the Faculty Committee on the Course of Study, meeting jointly with the Academic Committee of the Caucus of the Undergraduate Student Government, review their proposal. The faculty would then reconsider its original action and any amendments or alternative proposals recommended. The Undergraduate Student Government may also return the proposal directly to the faculty, which may reconsider the proposal immediately or may request review of the proposal by the Committee on the Course of Study prior to reconsideration. If the action to be reconsidered is on a proposal that the faculty has rejected, a majority vote of the faculty shall reverse the previous decision. If the action to be reconsidered is on a proposal that has been adopted by the faculty, a two-thirds vote of the faculty shall be necessary to affirm the previous decision. The faculty shall not be requested to reconsider the same action more than once in any academic year.
Graduate Student Departmental Committees
The following are to be established policies in the making of decisions with regard to the graduate courses of study, and departmental chairs shall be responsible for so informing the graduate students of their departments at the beginning of each academic year. However, any of these policies may be modified by agreement of the faculty and graduate students of a department, these modifications to remain in effect until changed by similar procedure.
- Each department shall establish a departmental committee of graduate students, to act as a liaison between the faculty and the graduate student body of the department. Each committee should normally meet with the committee of the departmental faculty concerned with graduate studies, if one exists. The committee of graduate students shall have the right to initiate discussion of any proposals relating to the departmental graduate program, shall encourage students to participate in departmental affairs of special interest and relevance to them, and shall have the following additional rights.
- The right to attach comments to all proposals forwarded to the Committee on the Graduate School by departmental faculty.
- The right, in certain circumstances, to secure a departmental faculty’s reconsideration of action taken on proposals regarding the graduate curriculum. Departments should seriously consider a second vote on any measures regarding the department’s graduate program when it is requested by the student committee. In any particular academic year departmental faculties should commit themselves to a second vote on such measures if a second vote is requested within one month by the student departmental committee in a petition endorsed by two-thirds of the department’s graduate students. If the action being reconsidered is on a proposal that the departmental faculty has rejected, a majority vote of the departmental faculty should reverse the previous decision. If the action being reconsidered is on a proposal that has been adopted by the departmental faculty, a two-thirds vote of the departmental faculty should be required to affirm the previous decision. Departmental faculties should not be bound to reconsider the same action more than once in the same academic year.
- Student departmental committees shall be provided with a reasonable amount of administrative assistance in preparing proposals, communicating with departmental students, and conducting elections.
- Each departmental chair shall be responsible for:
- Referring all proposals for major changes in the department’s graduate program to the departmental graduate student committee before action on such proposals by the faculty of the department.
- Inviting student committee members to discuss proposals for major changes in the graduate course of study with the faculty of the department at or before any meetings in which the departmental faculty proposes to take action on such proposals.
- Scheduling at least two meetings each academic year with the graduate student committee of the department, one early in the fall term to work out plans for later consultation, and one in late spring to review the department’s graduate offerings so that chairs may take student views into account in preparing requests for new staff.
Interaction of Undergraduate Student Government Committees and Faculty Committees
Whenever the Undergraduate Student Government shall establish a committee parallel to a faculty committee, the parallel committees shall at least once a year meet in joint session. In addition, the chair and one additional member of such committees of the Undergraduate Student Government shall meet with those faculty committees which the president of the University and the officers of the Undergraduate Student Government believe would benefit from such participation. The student representatives on faculty committees shall join freely in committee discussions of matters of concern to students, and shall be responsible for presenting the views of the student committee and the Undergraduate Student Government, when those views are known. Any student participating in the deliberations of a faculty committee is bound by the same rules as the faculty regarding the confidential nature of the proceedings. Within the bounds of this restriction, the student may discuss the matters under consideration with the Undergraduate Student Government or with other students. Either committee may meet without the participation of members of the parallel committee. Before any final recommendation is made on any matter of general policy concerning students, there will be an opportunity for the student committee to meet jointly with the faculty committee involved. Views of the student committees may be brought to the attention of the full faculty and the University community.
Individual Student Appeal from Decisions of Faculty Committees
A student desiring to appeal an action of a faculty committee taken on academic grounds which affects directly academic standing and for which appeal is not otherwise provided, should notify the dean of the faculty in writing to that effect, specifying the grounds of appeal. Notification must be made no later than seven days after receipt of the written notice of the decision which the student wishes to appeal. The dean of the faculty shall transmit the student’s written statement and any other relevant material directly to the Advisory Committee on Policy.
In deciding appeals, the Advisory Committee on Policy will consider whether other committees have followed established procedures and reached decisions consistent with University rules and practices. In all cases the decision of the Advisory Committee on Policy shall be final. If an appealed action is judged to have been arbitrary or based on improper or unfair procedures, the appeal will be sustained. In such a case the Advisory Committee on Policy will determine a course of action to insure an impartial final determination of the merits of the case based on proper and fair procedures.
Coordination Between Faculty and Students on Matters Affecting Student Life
The University Student Life Committee. The University Student Life Committee consists of six members of the faculty, including at least two who are nontenured and one residential college head. The following also serve on the committee: the vice president for campus life as chair, the dean of the college, the dean of the Graduate School, the director of athletics, the executive director of University Health Services, the dean of undergraduate students, and the vice president for University Services.
The University Student Life Committee is concerned with fostering relationships among academic, residential, and social experiences of undergraduates and graduate students and more generally with the tone and character of University student life. In conjunction with the Council of College Heads, which oversees such matters in the residential colleges, the committee reviews policies affecting residential and extracurricular life for all undergraduate and graduate students.
The committee may advise the dean of undergraduate students, the dean of the Graduate School, the dean of the college, the vice president for campus life, the vice president for university services and the president concerning matters under its purview and may, periodically, report and make recommendations to the faculty.
Normally, the committee shall include in its deliberations, and in the work of any subcommittees which may develop, student members of the University Student Life Committee of the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Governments.
The Council of College Heads. The Council of College Heads is concerned with creating and maintaining an environment in the undergraduate residential colleges which supports and enhances the educational mission of the University. In carrying out these responsibilities, the Council of College Heads sets policy for the residential and dining facilities for which it has general oversight and may advise the dean of undergraduate students, the dean of the college, the vice president for campus life, and the president on matters of general concern. The council works in conjunction with, and makes recommendations to, regular standing committees of the faculty, especially the Committee on the Course of Study and the Committee on University Student Life.
The heads of the seven undergraduate residential colleges are appointed to four-year terms by the president on the recommendation of the dean of the college and the dean of undergraduate students. The members of the council, in addition to the heads of the residential colleges, include the dean of the college (chair), the dean of undergraduate students, the vice president for campus life, the vice president for university services, and the associate dean of the college.
Undergraduate Departmental Committees
To make possible continuing contacts between the departmental chairs, faculty of the department, and students, an undergraduate departmental committee shall be established in each department.
- In the election of student departmental committees, such committees and departmental chairs shall be jointly responsible for adopting procedures that have these objectives:
- It should be convenient for the students of the department to vote.
- There should be an opportunity for any departmental student to place names in nomination.
- It should be easy for relatively small groups of students to have a representative on their department’s committee and difficult for an organized minority to capture a disproportionate share of committee positions.
- There should be reasonable precautions against multiple balloting and reasonable measures to ensure a fair count of the vote.
- Student departmental committees shall be provided with a reasonable amount of secretarial assistance in preparing proposals, communicating with departmental majors, and conducting elections.
- Departmental chairs shall be responsible for:
- Referring all proposals for major changes in departmental undergraduate programs to their student committees before action on such proposals is taken by departmental faculties.
- Inviting members of student committees to discuss proposals for major changes in departmental undergraduate programs with departmental faculties at or before any meetings in which departmental faculties take action on such proposals.
- Scheduling at least two meetings each academic year with their student committees, one early in the fall term to work out plans for later consultation, and one in late spring to review departmental undergraduate offerings so that chairs may take student views into account in preparing requests for new staff.
- Student committees and faculty departmental committees concerned with the undergraduate program (in departments in which the latter sort of committee exists) shall normally meet jointly.
- Student departmental committees have the following additional rights:
- The right to attach comments, favorable or unfavorable, to all proposals forwarded by the faculties of their departments to the Committee on the Course of Study.
- The right in certain circumstances to secure a departmental faculty’s reconsideration of action taken on proposals regarding the course of study for undergraduate students. Specifically: departmental faculties should seriously consider a second vote on any measure regarding the department’s undergraduate program, when a second vote is requested by the student committee of the department. In any particular academic year departmental faculties should commit themselves to a second vote on such measures if a second vote is requested within one month by the student committee in a petition endorsed by two-thirds of the department’s majors. If the action being reconsidered is on a proposal that the departmental faculty has rejected, a majority vote of the departmental faculty should reverse the previous decision. If the action being reconsidered is on a proposal that has been adopted by the departmental faculty, a two-thirds vote of the departmental faculty should be required to affirm the previous decision.
The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) plays an important role in many areas of direct concern to undergraduates, including participating in the formulation of various University policies and the sponsorship of a wide variety of programs and activities. The USG encourages all undergraduates to read the Senate Constitution and Class Government Constitution, both of which can be found on the USG website (usg.princeton.edu). The USG also invites all undergraduates to contact current senate members with concerns they have about University policy and to contact their class officers with ideas they have about class activities and programming.
The following is for informational purposes only. Please consult the updated editions of the USG Senate Constitution and Class Government Constitution for current provisions.
Objects of the USG Senate
As stated in the USG Senate Constitution, the objects of the USG senate are as follows:
- Represent the undergraduates to the faculty, administration, Board of Trustees, and individuals or groups outside of the University whenever such representation is necessary.
- Exercise leadership in any activity affecting undergraduate life.
- Provide services for the University and members of the University community.
- Discuss, deliberate, and take an official position on a question relating to or affecting undergraduate life, or any other question of interest to the undergraduates.
Members of the USG Senate
- The voting members of the USG senate are as follows:
- The president, vice president, and treasurer, elected in November or December.
- The chairs of the University Student Life Committee, Academics Committee, Social Committee, Sustainability Committee, Campus and Community Affairs Committee, the Mental Health Committee, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee elected in November or December.
- The 10 undergraduate members (U-Councilors) of the Council of the Princeton University Community, elected in April.
- Six class senators, two from three classes. First-year students, sophomores, and juniors elect senators in November or December.
- In addition, the USG senate has nonvoting members who assist with specific duties, including communicating with the campus community and other institutions, maintaining Senate records, and updating the USG website.
Committees of the USG Senate
- Members of the University Student Life Committee meet monthly with the vice president for campus life and the faculty University Student Life Committee to review policies and make recommendations regarding nonacademic life.
- The Academics Committee meets regularly with administrators and faculty committees to review policies and make recommendations regarding academic affairs.
- The Social Committee sponsors a wide variety of social events for undergraduates.
- The Sustainability Committee advocates for sustainability awareness, action, and policies on campus, collaborates with sustainability groups, and promotes sustainable practices within USG.
- The Campus and Community Affairs Committee organizes events and fosters relationships that connect members of the Princeton University campus with one another and the greater community.
- The Mental Health Committee works to Improve Princeton's mental wellness system and to ensure that mental health is properly prioritized and situated with the USG and the general Princeton community.
- The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee advocates for all students by promoting diversity, pursuing equity, and increasing inclusion in the USG’s work with student groups, faculty, and administrators.
- The Projects Board makes grants each semester to University-recognized undergraduate student organizations.
- The Student Groups Recognition Committee recognizes undergraduate student organizations by facilitating a group leadership structure and approving groups for University recognition.
- The Movies Committee organizes film opportunities on and off campus.
- A variety of standing and ad hoc committees work to improve undergraduate life in specific areas.
Objects of Class Government
- As stated in the Class Government Constitution, the objects of each class government are as follows:
- Create substantive and class-specific programs that contribute broadly to the University, local, and national communities on behalf of and to the direct benefit of the class.
- Plan social events designed to foster class unity and spirit.
- Design, order, and distribute class gear to promote class identity.
- Foster relationships with the parent and grandparent alumni classes.
- Establish distinct class identity and unity throughout and beyond the undergraduate years at the University.
- In addition to the above objects, the objects of the Senior Class Government include the following:
- Organize Class Day, Senior Prom, Senior Check Out, Step Sing, and other events and activities relating to Commencement.
- Regularly solicit input from the senior class when making decisions relating to Commencement.
- In April, each class elects a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and social chair. They are responsible for fulfilling the objectives of Class Government.
- In October, the first-year class elects a class council composed of five members of equal responsibility.
- The methods of calling for a referendum are as follows:
- General referenda. Following a one-third vote of the entire voting senate membership or upon petition of 10 percent of undergraduates, a referendum question will be placed on the ballot of the nearest upcoming USG election—winter or spring—barring a vote of the senate as explained in (c). In order for a referendum to be successful, at least one-third of the student body must vote on the referendum, and of that group, a majority (more than 50 percent) must vote in favor of it. If either provision is not met, the referendum will be automatically defeated.
- Referenda regarding amendments to the Honor Constitution. Following a petition of 200 undergraduates, a referendum question will be placed on the ballot of the nearest upcoming USG election—winter or spring—barring a vote of the Senate as explained in (c).
- Frivolous referenda. If either (a) or (b) has been fulfilled, the referendum may be brought up for review at a senate meeting. By a five-sixths vote at a regular meeting, the senate may determine the referendum question to be frivolous, and thereby prevent the referendum from occurring. In this case, a petition of one-fourth of regularly enrolled undergraduates received within five days after that determination will place the referendum on the ballot within 21 days (excluding vacations).
- Any undergraduate wishing to petition for a referendum shall notify in writing the USG vice president or designee of this intention. The senate prescribes the proper form and style of a referendum petition in the USG election rules. Other rules relating to referenda are also contained in the USG election rules.
- The following are the thresholds for referendum results to take effect:
- In general. Except as otherwise provided in (b) and (c), the USG senate shall be bound by the result of the referendum if at least one-third of regularly enrolled undergraduates vote in the referendum and a majority of votes cast are in the affirmative.
- Referenda regarding amendments to certain documents. If the proposal contained in the referendum amends the Senate Constitution, Class Government Constitution, or the Projects Board Charter, then the amendment shall be considered adopted if at least one-third of regularly enrolled undergraduates vote in the referendum and three-fifths of the votes cast are in the affirmative.
- Referenda regarding amendments to the Constitution of the Honor System. If the referendum measure proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the Honor System, then the referendum is adopted if at least one-third of regularly enrolled undergraduates vote in the referendum and three-fourths of the votes cast are in the affirmative, in accordance with Article VI of the Constitution of the Honor System (see section 2.3).
Students engaging in extracurricular activities on campus are free to form organizations devoted to a wide variety of objectives, and, as individuals or members of organizations, to express their views on issues of University and public interest. In these matters the University policy is to encourage free and responsible behavior of students, to hold to a minimum those regulations essential to the orderly conduct of extracurricular activities, and to seek in all ways to maintain the freedom enjoyed by students as participants in the life of the Princeton University community. When students fail to abide by agreed-upon regulations, they may be referred for disciplinary action.
University recognition will not be withheld from any group pursuing lawful objectives merely because its aims may seem unorthodox. Student organizations may invite outside speakers of their choice, and are free to hold meetings and in other ways to express their views, subject only to prudent conditions regarding the protection of people and property and to reasonable regulations concerning time, place, and notice of meetings and other public exercises.
Demonstrations and the distribution of leaflets, statements, or petitions are permitted on the campus unless, or until, they disrupt the regular and essential operations of the University or significantly infringe upon the rights of others. If it becomes necessary to prevent a demonstration from exceeding these guidelines, the University will first attempt to use persuasion; the University will then, if necessary, use its own personnel from the Department of Public Safety, and will call in outside law enforcement officials only when appropriate as a last resort.
These policies are intended to safeguard the rights of students and student organizations to freedom of association. At the same time, candor and openness must be recognized as fundamental in an academic community, and the University does not look with favor on clandestine organizations. Furthermore, the activities of student organizations inevitably involve the University, which has, on occasion, been called upon to help to ensure that they meet financial and other obligations. For these several reasons, the University must ask student organizations which expect recognition by the University, identification through the use of the name of the University, and normal use of University facilities, to register the names of their officers and their basic objectives or purposes. Students do not have the authority to bind the University under any contract or obligation and may be held personally liable if they do so.
Upon filing a request with the appropriate University official, campus-based organizations will usually be granted permission to distribute literature, solicit donations, and seek customers on campus, subject to the general University regulations prohibiting obstruction of University activities or interference with individual rights. Authorization for such activities must be obtained from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students in the case of buildings and grounds on the main campus; the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School in the case of the Graduate College; or the Office of the Director of the Plasma Physics Laboratory in the case of the buildings and grounds on the Forrestal Campus. Authorization to solicit in academic buildings or University offices will be granted only after consultation with the responsible academic and administrative officers. In the case of profit-making activities, regulations governing student agencies will apply.
Detailed guidelines and policies for undergraduate organizations are available at the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students. Guidelines for graduate students are available from the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.
Student publications and broadcasting organizations are a valuable aid in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration on the campus. They are a means of bringing student concerns to the attention of the faculty and administration and of formulating student opinion on various issues on the campus and in the world at large. In pursuit of these goals, student publications enjoy the freedom of the press. At the same time, the editorial freedom of student editors and managers entails a corollary obligation to be governed by the canons of responsible journalism.
The University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to the educational opportunities and programs available at Princeton. Princeton’s Policy on Disability and Accessibility is implemented in the context of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. The term “disability” may include learning, physical, sensory, psychological, and certain temporary disabilities. The University provides students with reasonable accommodations in accordance with the ADA/Section 504 and applicable state law. Students with disabilities may request academic accommodations; housing and dining accommodations; modifications to University policies, rules, and regulations; environmental adjustments such as the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers; and auxiliary aids and services.
Students should submit all accommodation requests to the Office of Disability Services (ODS). Students requesting accommodations should review the guidance provided by ODS on requirements for documentation, but generally must submit documentation that clearly demonstrates that (1) the student has a physical or mental impairment, and (2) the impairment prevents the normal exercise of any bodily or mental functions (or can be shown to exist through accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic tests), as compared to most people in the general population. A diagnosis of a disorder, or submission of an evaluation, does not automatically qualify an individual for accommodations. Appropriate documentation must be provided by a qualified professional, meet currency requirements, include diagnosis information as well as information about the functional limitations caused by the impairment, and support the request for specific accommodations. In some cases, the ODS evaluation may include review of documentation by an outside consultant engaged by Princeton. Accommodations are determined through an interactive process that includes an intake interview.
The full text of the Policy on Disability and Accessibility can be viewed online at: http://inclusive.princeton.edu/addressing-concerns/policies/policy-disa…. Other relevant policies and procedures can be found at http://inclusive.princeton.edu/addressing-concerns/disability-accessibi… and http://ods.princeton.edu/student-services/student-services-process. Members of the University community are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the regulations set forth in the Policy on Disability and Accessibility.