Section V: Student Rights and Responsibilities

The MGH Institute of Health Professions (“Institute”) is a member and the only degree-granting affiliate of Mass General Brigham, an integrated health system that is committed to excellent teaching, research, patient care, and community service. Members of the system also recognize that increasing value and continuously improving quality are essential to maintaining excellence.


In 1977, the Institute was founded by the Massachusetts General Hospital, a top ranked hospital, a global leader in healthcare innovation and training, and home to the largest hospital-based research program for NIH funding in the United States. At Mass General, the brightest minds in healthcare collaborate on behalf of the patients, families, and communities we serve to combine innovative science, state-of-the-art clinical care, and student-centered education. Here, students are an essential and valued part of the Institute community and partner in living our mission, and the campus benefits from students’ talents, strengths, diverse perspectives, personal stories, passions, and creative ideas. 


While part of a world-class health system, the Institute is chiefly a not-for-profit, higher education organization that exists for the pursuit of truth, the transmission of knowledge, the development of students, and the general well-being and betterment of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the realization of these goals. As members of the Institute’s academic community, students are encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment, to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth, and to contribute to the well-being and betterment of society. The Institute holds close a commitment to the advancement of health equity, a state in which all persons have the opportunity to realize their personal best health and fullest participation in society.


Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, online, on campus, in other learning environments, and in the community. Students should exercise their freedom with responsibility.  All members of the Institute’s academic community share the responsibility to secure and respect conditions conducive to the freedom to learn, across all platforms and methods of teaching and learning. The Institute has the duty to develop policies, procedures, and guidelines that provide and safeguard this freedom. The Institute endorses the procedures, rights, and safeguards that follow as indispensable to the freedom to teach, to learn, and to search for truth.


The primary objective for the maintenance of conduct at the Institute and across it varied learning environments is to protect the Institute community and establish clear standards for civility and respect among members of this community. As a secondary objective, students gain experience through this code of conduct with professional ethical principles, democratic citizenship, and standards that help prepare them for success in health professional careers.


I.       Basic Assumptions


  1. Freedom of Expression


    Student groups and individual students shall be free to examine and to discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately. They shall be free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the Institute. At the same time, it shall be made clear to the academic and the larger community that students and student groups speak only for themselves in their public expressions or demonstrations.


    Students at the Institute have the rights and responsibilities of a free academic community. They shall respect not only their fellow students' rights but also the rights of other members of the academic community to free expression of views based on the pursuit of the truth and the right to function as citizens independent of the Institute.


  2. Freedom from Unlawful Discrimination


         The Institute will not permit unlawful discrimination on grounds of age, color, 

         disability, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital or 

         familial status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation,

         veteran status, and/or other characteristics protected by applicable law in any Institute- 

         recognized area of student life.


  3. Professional Rights of the Faculty


    Nothing in this Statement shall be deemed to revoke or alter any right a faculty member may have under the Bylaws of the Faculty or other applicable agreement with the Institute.


  4. Student Rights in the Governing of the Institute


The Institute is a community of educators, scholars, learners, and administrators engaged in the search for and translation of knowledge. As such, student engagement in the governance and advancement of the Institute is sought and encouraged, such as through membership on appropriate committees and administrative bodies and by sharing relevant perspectives to inform institutional policy and procedures. To this end, the Institute leadership provides forums for student to share their perspectives in matters of importance to the Institute and the student body, sponsors student government and student life activities, and provides a platform for Institute Input.   


II.     Students in Academic Programs


Course instructors and facilitators should encourage free discussion, inquiry, and expression. Student performance should be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.


  1. Protection of Freedom of Expression


    Students should be 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.


  2. Protection Against Improper Academic Evaluation


    Students should have protection through orderly procedures against discriminatory or unjust academic evaluation. At the same time, they are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled. The Institute shall maintain policy and procedures for students who allege an instance of arbitrary or unfair academic evaluation resulting in an unjust final course grade or dismissal. The processes and procedures shall be delineated and managed by the school.


  3. Protection Against Disclosure


    Information about student views, beliefs, and political associations, which faculty receive during their work as instructors, advisors, and mentors, should be considered confidential. Protection against disclosure is a serious professional obligation. Judgments of ability and character may be provided under appropriate circumstances, normally with the knowledge or consent of the student. Disclosure may be required in circumstances in which the faculty believes there is a risk to the safety, security, and well-being of the community.


  4. Standards of Behavior in Courses


The primary responsibility for managing the learning environment rests with the faculty. Students who engage in any prohibited or unlawful acts that result in disruption of a class may be directed by the instructor to leave the class. The term “prohibited acts” includes behavior prohibited by the instructor (including, but not limited to, making unauthorized recording of, or using unauthorized technology in, any part of a class, online meeting, or other academic settings, persistently speaking without being recognized or called on, refusing to be seated, leaving or entering in a manner that is disruptive.). It must be emphasized that this provision is not designed to be used to punish classroom dissent. The expression of disagreement with the instructor or classmates, by itself, is not disruptive behavior. Longer suspensions from a class or dismissal on conduct grounds must follow an established Institute policy or procedure.  


III. Regulations Concerning Student Life


  1. The Enactment of Regulations


    Institute-wide regulations intended to formalize general standards of student conduct may be recommended to the Office of the Provost or the President by appropriate committees composed entirely of students or jointly of students, faculty, and administrative representatives. Institute-wide regulations do not contemplate specialized regulations or rules governing academic, business, administrative, or contractual matters, nor rules or regulations published by administrators, students, or faculty for the control of facilities or programs, such as those not normally submitted to the Institute leadership for approval.


    It is the intent of this section to bring students into active participation in the formulation of certain Institute-wide regulations and to encourage the inclusion of students as active participants in the formulation of those regulations to the extent that such involvement can be accomplished reasonably and practicably.


  2. Standards of Fairness and Student Rights in Student Conduct Cases


The MGH Institute of Health Professions respects and is determined to protect the individual dignity and educational access of its students. At the same time, it requires that students comply with those conventions and regulations of campus life that are necessary to maintain order, to protect individuals and property, and to fulfill its purposes and responsibilities as a graduate school. To this end, the Institute realizes that the prevailing rule in matters of student conduct must continue to be that of common sense. The model for student conduct procedures that the Institute adopts is that of the administrative process, not that of the criminal or civil courts.


The Institute student conduct process should not become excessively legalistic or adversarial. Student conduct bodies may find it necessary to remind parties, witnesses, or support persons that the proceedings are not criminal or civil trials, that criminal or civil standards and rules of evidence are not controlling, and that the student conduct body shall enjoy considerable discretion to interpret, vary, and waive procedural requirements to the end that a just and fair decision may be obtained.


Following an alleged act of student misconduct, and until the final disposition of the charges, the status of a respondent shall not be altered nor will their right to be present at the Institute (or attend classes) be suspended, except when interim suspension is assigned because the continued presence of the respondent in the Institute community or a clinical education site poses a threat to any person or to the stability and continuance of normal Institute functions.


The status of a student may change for reasons that are not related to student conduct or for reasons that are not based on student conduct action under this code of conduct. Status changes that are administrative, academic, or in the interest of the security of the Institute community are not governed by these student conduct procedures.

VI. Students as Members of the Local Community


Students who violate a local ordinance or any law risk the legal penalties prescribed by civil or criminal authorities. An educational institution need not concern itself with every violation. Nevertheless, the Institute may take student conduct action against those students whose behavior off campus premises is a violation of the Code, considering the seriousness of the alleged conduct or proximity to the Institute or Institute-sponsored or affiliated events. This could occur not only in local neighborhoods, but also during learning or service experiences abroad, internships, fellowships, while attending a professional meeting, through virtual, online, or digital settings, or through electronic media, among other situations or settings. The determinations about such student conduct action will be made by administration on a case-by-case basis.


No student conduct action shall be taken by the Institute against a student for engaging in activities such as political campaigning, picketing, or public demonstrations, so long as the student’s behavior during such events does not otherwise violate Institute policy.