Student Rights and Responsibilities

The College's mission is to prepare all students to be knowledgeable citizens of the twenty-first century and empower them to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. This can only occur in an environment that contributes to scholarship and to creative work.

Students have the right to a classroom environment that encourages learning. As a part of a community of learners, students and instructors should work together to create an environment of trust and mutual respect.

Student rights

All students at The University of Iowa have the following rights:

  • Students have the right of respect from all instructors and staff at the College, regardless of their “race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other classification” (see the University’s Operations Manual, Part II, Chapter 3: Human Rights).
  • Students have the right to expect certain practices of their instructors. These include establishing clear course objectives and requirements through the use of the syllabus, clearly stating grading scale and criteria, evaluating students fairly, holding regularly scheduled office hours, acknowledging student contributions to an instructor's personal academic work, and protecting students’ intellectual freedom. Read more about faculty members’ responsibilities to students.
  • Students have the right to file complaints. Complaints may concern inappropriate instructor conduct, incompetence in oral communication, scheduling of exams other than at the authorized examination times, failure to provide disability accommodations, grading grievances, and other such issues. Students should bring any complaints to the attention of the instructor, departmental head, and/or the Associate Dean (see process below) as soon as possible. Only in extraordinary cases may a procedure involving a complaint begin more than six months after the incident.

If you are a student who has a concern about unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment, disregard the steps outlined below and immediately schedule an appointment with the Title IX and Gender Equity unit in the Office of Institutional Equity or with any University administrative officer (non-confidential resources), or with one of the following confidential resources: Office of the Ombudsperson, University Counseling Service, Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC), or the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) to discuss your concerns and identify possible courses of action. Report a problem.

If you have a complaint about any other aspect of a course, such as the classroom environment, the instructor, the course’s grading system, or class activities (including online and out-of-class activities), please take the following steps:

  1. Talk with your instructor about the situation.
  2. If you do not feel comfortable approaching the instructor directly or if the problem continues, you should next talk to the course supervisor (if one exists).
  3. Again, if the problem is not resolved or if you are not comfortable talking to the course supervisor, talk immediately to the department’s DEO (Departmental Executive Officer, also referred to as the department chair).
  4. If this does not resolve the situation, you may make an appointment to talk with a staff member to discuss the complaint and the CLAS appeal process in CLAS Undergraduate Programs, 319-335-2633.
  5. The student may then write a formal letter of appeal to Associate Dean Cornelia Lang, which should outline the situation as well as the student's attempts to resolve the issue. Please provide copies of appropriate materials to support your complaint. Students with grading grievances are responsible for providing completed assignments, tests, quizzes, and all other documentation, except for grade records. (Departments keep all grade records; grades cannot be changed without the permission of the department concerned.) The letter may be sent by email to, or may be mailed to Associate Dean Cornelia Lang, 120 Schaeffer Hall, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, 52242-1409.
  6. In attempting to resolve your complaint, the Associate Dean may convene a special committee to recommend appropriate action. The Associate Dean will notify you of the outcome of your complaint via University e-mail.
  7. Any CLAS student, after receiving a decision about a complaint from the Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, may appeal this decision through the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Students with complaints about discrimination also may contact the Office of Institutional Equity see Report a problem.

Students with complaints about disability accommodation should notify Student Disability Services in addition to the offices listed above, and may be counseled to file a complaint with the Office of Institutional Equity, see Report a problem.

Students also may wish to speak with the University Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson is a specially trained University official who provides informal conflict resolution services for all members of the university community. All meetings are informal and confidential.

Student responsibilities

  • All students are expected to abide by the UI Code of Student Life and by the CLAS Code of Academic Honesty.
  • All students are expected to be engaged during class time. Students who sleep in class or read non-class materials during class disrupt the course, as do students who engage in other non-class activities such as using a cell phone and working on an assignment for another course. This behavior disrupts the learning environment for all involved and compromises the learning process.
  • The use of abusive or disrespectful language also damages the classroom environment. Inappropriate classroom behavior by students is a violation of the Code of Student Life. Instructors may take immediate disciplinary action against students who are physically or verbally disruptive in a class, or they may refer the matter to the Dean of Students.
  • Students are responsible for seeking help from University faculty and staff and for using the provided resources to meet the requirements of their major(s) and minor(s). All students should meet with an academic advisor at least once per semester to discuss the progress they are making toward their chosen degree.
  • Students are responsible for making sure that they will complete their degree requirements. This includes meeting both academic and administrative requirements set by the major and outlined in this manual. Faculty and other professionals will make every effort to guide you toward completion of all requirements, but the ultimate responsibility for satisfying these requirements is yours. You are responsible for being aware of the requirements, for meeting with your advisor to discuss your progress on a regular basis, and for asking questions about information that is not clear to you.
  • Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the information in the academic handbook. Failure to read this handbook will not excuse you from the responsibility to abide by the rules and procedures contained within it. If you would like to file an exception to any College rule or procedure, you must submit a petition CLAS Undergraduate Programs. Exceptions may be approved or denied.