Graduate Student Bill of Rights & Responsibilities

The following draft was approved unanimously by the GSA Council on Monday, November 8, 2010. It has since been forwarded to the UC San Diego division of the Academic Senate for further consideration. Ultimately, GSA seeks formal recognition of the document by Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.

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Graduate Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

University of California, San Diego

Draft 4.0 (4 November 2010)

The University of California, San Diego stands committed to the advancement of graduate education. This commitment is founded upon the preservation of an intellectual environment for graduate students to pursue scholarly inquiry and research. It is the view of our community that such a goal is best preserved through the combined efforts of faculty, staff, and students toward the protection and enrichment of a campus culture receptive to the rights and responsibilities of graduate students.

To this end, the present Graduate Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities was drafted in a spirit of cooperation. It lists proper and enforceable terms of conduct for graduate and professional students alike. It is intended to serve as a normative document, not a legal one; and does not supersede any existing legal agreements or contracts. Rather, it calls upon the Chancellor, the Academic Senate, and the general campus community to recognize the provisions listed here and to provide for their earnest respect and enforcement.


  1. A graduate student has the right to be respected as a person of merit and junior colleague upon gaining admission to a graduate program.
    1. Graduate students have the right to study and work in an environment free of:

      Exploitation, intimidation, harassment, and discrimination based on characteristics such as gender, race, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, family status, disability, requests for disability accommodation, religious or political affiliations, country of origin, and country of citizenship.
    2. Graduate students have the right to an intellectually stimulating and diverse academic environment that includes members from historically underrepresented groups.
    3. Graduate students have a right to professionalism and reasonable confidentiality in their communications with professors.
    4. A graduate student’s performance or behavior should only be discussed for professional purposes and in a collegial manner.
  2. Graduate students have a right to refuse to perform tasks if those tasks are not closely related to their academic or professional development program.
    1. A student’s vulnerability in having a lesser status and authority in the academic unit or lesser experience in the academic field of study should not be exploited to the personal advantage of faculty members.
    2. Students should not be coerced into performing tasks in grievous excess of other students because of characteristics that are vulnerable to discrimination.
  3. Graduate students have a right to academic freedom.
    1. Graduate students, both inside and outside the classroom, have unrestricted liberty to question and test received wisdom and to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions.
    2. The University has no right to curb the exercise of this freedom or to use it as grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal.
  4. Graduate students have a right to specific and concrete requirements for achieving an advanced degree.
    1. These requirements should be communicated clearly to him or her upon entrance to the graduate program.
    2. No changes to degree requirements should affect students previously accepted into the graduate program or academic focus except at the option of the student.
    3. Prospective and currently enrolled graduate students have a right to know the “average and normative time to degree” within a specific graduate program.
  5. Graduate students have the right to an objective evaluation of their progress towards an advanced degree.
    1. Graduate students should be given a fair opportunity to correct or remedy deficiencies in their academic performance.
    2. Evaluations should be objective, specific, and should be shared with the student within a reasonable period of time. Annual progress reports should be available to the student in writing.
    3. The reasons for unsatisfactory performance on programmatic examinations should be stated clearly to the student in a written evaluation.
    4. Any intent to dismiss a student from a graduate program for academic reasons must be preceded by specific, written performance information well in advance of actual dismissal. Only the Dean of the Graduate Division can dismiss a student from a graduate program for academic reasons.
  6. Graduate students have a right to be informed of financial and resource support.
    1. Departments should provide an accurate description of availability and the likelihood of ongoing financial and resource support within their programs.
    2. Prospective and currently enrolled graduate students should be provided a thorough description of the requirements and qualifications necessary for academic employment, training, and financial support within their departments and at the university.
    3. Graduate students who also hold positions as employees of the university deserve to be protected by the same rights inherent to those positions as other university employees.
    4. Graduate students reserve the right to form and maintain a union.
  7. Graduate students have a right to share in fair governance of the University.
    1. The graduate student population reserves the right to form and maintain a governing body that is free from coercion.
    2. Graduate students should have representatives on all campus-wide administrative committees that affect graduate students, with voting privileges where appropriate according to the guidelines of shared governance.
    3. The graduate student representative body should be given charges to these committees once a year and be informed when new committees are formed.
    4. All departments and graduate programs should include graduate student representatives in the decision-making process where appropriate.
  8. Graduate students have a right to full-faith consultation and mediation if their rights are infringed.
    1. Students with grievances should be given the opportunity for full-faith consultation and mediation before actions are taken against them.
    2. Students deserve to defend themselves at the hearings.


  1. Graduate students have a responsibility to conduct themselves, in all educational activities, in a manner befitting academic colleagues.
    1. Graduate students’ behavior should be professional and a credit to themselves, their academic unit, and the University.
  2. Graduate students have a responsibility to focus primarily on their academic career and apply energy toward the advanced degree within normative time, except when special circumstances apply.
  3. Graduate students have a responsibility to uphold ethical norms in research and scholarship and provide accurate and honest reporting of research results, research methodology, and scholarship.
  4. Graduate students have a responsibility to participate in the campus community to the extent that each is able, and should leave the campus enriched in whatever ways possible.
    1. To contribute to the academic development and the social environment of the department or program in which he or she is pursuing the advanced degree.
    2. To contribute to administration of the graduate program, student government, and/or the University.
  5. Graduate students have the responsibility to take the initiative in asking questions that promote their understanding of the academic requirements and the financial particulars of their specific graduate program.
  6. Graduate students have a responsibility to understand their role in the development of the relationship between faculty mentor and graduate student.
    1. To have an awareness of time constraints and other demands imposed on faculty members and program staff.
    2. To communicate regularly with faculty mentors and advisors, especially in matters related to research and progress within the graduate program.
  7. Graduate students have a responsibility to uphold the public service aspects of the mission of a public university, as a level appropriate to the ability and graduate program.