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Rights and Responsibilities
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As a student at Columbia State, you possess basic freedoms, privileges and rights guaranteed to all persons by the law. You are also subject to the same rules of accountability and the same limitations imposed by law on all persons.
There are a number of established policies and regulations and student-right-to-know information, developed by the College, as well as the Tennessee Board of Regents, that exist for the welfare of both students and the College. This information is detailed in this Columbia State Community College Catalog and Student Handbook.
Although the College provides this information to the student, it is the student?s responsibility to become familiar with the policies and regulations outlined in this publication. Students needing clarification on any of these policies or regulations should contact the associate vice president for student services at (931) 540-2762.
Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act
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The Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act of 1990, as amended in 1991, requires colleges and universities to disclose certain information to current and prospective students.
Institutions are required to make the persistence, completion or graduation rates of certificate and degree-seeking, full-time students available.
Pursuant to the provisions of Tennessee Public Chapter No. 317, an act known and cited as the “College and University Security Information Act,” the following information is available on our Web site (www.columbiastate.edu) or will be provided to you upon request from the Student Services office (Jones Student Center 164):
- Annual crime statistics and crime rates for crimes occurring on the Columbia State campuses as reported to and compiled by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for each of the most recent three (3) years.
- Copies of the Board of Regents policies and procedures on campus security.
This information is not designed to serve as an agreement of contractual arrangement for providing security services to the members of the campus community, nor to guarantee an individual’s personal safety when utilizing campus facilities or grounds.
Students Rights and Freedoms
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The Tennessee Board of Regents Policy 3:02:04:00 defines the institution’s responsibility in the academic rights and freedoms of the student.
Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. Institutional procedures for achieving these purposes may vary from campus to campus, but the minimal standards of academic freedom of students outlined below are essential to any community of scholars.
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, on the campus, and in the larger community. Students should exercise their freedom with responsibility.
The responsibility to secure and to respect general conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the academic community. Tennessee Board of Regents institutions have developed policies and procedures which provide and safeguard this freedom. The purpose of this statement is to enumerate the essential provisions for students’ freedom to learn.
Freedom of Access to Higher Education
The admissions policies of each Tennessee Board of Regents institution are a matter of institutional choice, provided that each institution makes clear the characteristics and expectations of students which it considers relevant to success in the institution’s program. Under no circumstances should a student be barred from admission to a particular institution on the basis of race. Thus, within the limits of its facilities, each institution should be open to all students who are qualified according to its admissions standards. The facilities and services of a Tennessee Board of Regents institution should be open to all of its enrolled students.
In the Classroom
The professor in the classroom and in conference 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.
- 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.
- Protection Against Improper Academic Evaluation - Students should have protection through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation. At the same time, they are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled.
- Protection Against Improper Disclosure - Certain information about students is protected from public disclosure by federal and state laws. Protection against improper disclosure is a serious professional obligation. Judgments of ability and character may be provided under appropriate circumstances.
ADA – Services for Students with Disabilities
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Disability Services provides support services especially designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities, and provides reasonable accommodations enabling qualified disabled students to participate fully in campus life. To qualify for services, students must provide the department with official documentation of the disability and discuss their specific needs for each class. A determination is then made to ensure equal educational opportunity within the academic and/or technical requirements of the program, based on an individual’s specific disability.
Columbia State provides disability support services in a variety of ways. Examples of these services include, but are not limited to, coordinating community resources, providing information for faculty regarding disabilities, serving as an advocate for students, securing special adaptive equipment and aids, providing individuals to assist with taking notes, tutoring, and other special testing and classroom accommodations. These services are offered to assist disabled students in realizing their goals. Students needing accommodations are urged to contact Disability Services several weeks before a semester begins to allow time for special services to be arranged. More information about our services is available by contacting the Disability Services office at (931) 540-2857.
Student Conduct and Discipline
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Institution Policy Statement
College students are citizens of the state, local, and national governments, and of the academic community, and are expected to conduct themselves as law-abiding members of each community at all times. Admission to an institution of higher education carries with it special privileges and imposes special responsibilities apart from those rights and duties enjoyed by nonstudents. In recognition of a special relationship that exists between the institution and the academic community which it seeks to serve, the Tennessee Board of Regents has authorized the president for the College to take such action as may be necessary to maintain campus conditions and preserve the integrity of the institution and its educational environment.
Pursuant to this authorization, the College has developed the following regulations which are intended to govern student conduct on the campus. In addition, students are subject to all national, state, and local laws and ordinances. If a student’s violation of such laws or ordinances also adversely affects the institution’s pursuit of its educational objectives, the institution may enforce its own regulations regardless of any proceedings instituted by other authorities. Conversely, violation of any section of these regulations may subject a student to disciplinary measures by the institution whether or not such conduct is simultaneously violative of state, local, or national laws.
- Generally, through appropriate due process procedures, institutional disciplinary measures shall be imposed for conduct which adversely affects the institution’s pursuit of its educational objective, which violates or shows a disregard for the rights of other members of the academic community, or which endangers property or persons on institution or institution-controlled property.
- Individual or organizational misconduct which is subject to disciplinary sanction shall include, but not be limited to, the following examples:
- Conduct Dangerous to Others - Any conduct which constitutes a serious danger to any person’s health, safety or personal well-being, including any physical abuse or immediate threat of abuse.
- Hazing - Hazing means any intentional or reckless act in Tennessee, on or off the property of any higher education institution, by a student acting alone, or with others, which is directed against any other student that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of that students, or which induces or coerces a student to endanger such student’s mental or physical health or safety. Hazing does not include customary athletic events or similar contests or competitions, and is limited to those actions taken and situations created in connection with initiation into, or affiliation with, any organization.
- Disorderly Conduct - Any individual or group behavior which is abusive, obscene, lewd, indecent, violent, excessively noisy, disorderly, or which unreasonably disturbs other groups or individuals.
- Obstruction or Interference with Institutional Activities or Facilities - Any intentional interference with or obstruction of any institutional activity, program, event or facilities, including the following:
- Any unauthorized occupancy of institution or institutionally-controlled facilities or blockage of access to or from such facilities.
- Interference with the right of any institutional member or other authorized person to gain access to any institution or institutionally-controlled activity, program, event or facilities.
- Any obstruction or delay of a campus security officer, fireman, or any institutional official in the performance of his/her duty.
- Misuse of or Damage to Property - Any act of misuse, vandalism, malicious or unwarranted damage or destruction, defacing, disfiguring or unauthorized use of property belonging to the institution including, but not limited to, fire alarms, fire equipment, elevators, telephones, institution keys, library materials, weight room equipment, computers, athletic equipment and/or safety devices; and any such act against a member of the institutional community or a guest of the institution.
- Theft, Misappropriation or Unauthorized Sale - Any act of theft, misappropriation, or unauthorized possession of institutional property or any such act against a member of the institutional community or a guest of the institution.
- Misuse of Documents or Identification Cards - Any forgery, alteration of or unauthorized use of institutional documents, forms, records or identification cards, including the giving of any false information, or withholding of necessary information, in connection with a student’s admission, enrollment, or status in the institution.
- Firearms and Other Dangerous Weapons - Any possession of or use of firearms or dangerous weapons of any kind.
- Explosives, Fireworks, and Flammable Materials - The unauthorized possession, ignition or detonation of any object or article which would cause damage by fire or other means to persons or property or possession of any substance which could be considered to be and used as fireworks.
- Alcoholic Beverages - The use and/or possession of alcoholic beverages on College-owned or controlled property.
- Drugs - The unlawful possession or use of any drug or controlled substance (including any stimulant, depressant, narcotic, or hallucinogenic drug or substance, or marijuana), or sale of distribution of any such drug or controlled substance.
- Gambling - Gambling in any form.
- Financial Irresponsibility - Failure to meet financial responsibilities to the institution promptly including, but not limited to, knowingly passing a worthless check or money order in payment to the institution or to a member of the institutional community acting in an official capacity.
- Unacceptable Conduct in Hearings - Any conduct at an institutional hearing involving contemptuous, disrespectful, or disorderly behavior, or the giving of false testimony or other evidence at any hearing.
- Failure to Cooperate with Institutional Officials - Failure to comply with directions of institutional officials acting in the performance of their duties.
- Violation of General Rules and Regulations - Any violation of the general rules and regulations of the institution as published in an official institutional publication, including the intentional failure to perform any required action or the intentional performance of any prohibited action.
- Attempts or Aiding and Abetting the Commission of Offenses - Any attempt to commit any of the foregoing offenses, or the aiding and abetting of the commission of any of the foregoing offenses. An attempt to commit an offense is defined as the intention to commit the offense coupled with the taking of some action toward its commission.
- Violations of State or Federal Laws - Any violation of state or federal laws or regulations proscribing conduct or establishing offenses, which laws and regulations are incorporated herein by reference.
- Violation of Imposed Disciplinary Sanctions - Intentional or unintentional violation of a disciplinary sanction officially imposed by a College official or a constituted body including, but not limited to, sanctions contained herein.
- Academic Dishonesty - A student may be guilty of academic dishonesty if:
- In connection with the taking of, or in contemplation of the taking of any examination, the student:
- Knowingly discovers or attempts to discover the contents of an examination before the contents are revealed by the instructor;
- Obtains, uses, attempts to obtain or use, supplies, or attempts to supply to any person, any unauthorized material or device;
- Attempts to use, supplies, or attempts to supply to any person material or device dishonestly;
- Willfully gives or receives any aid not authorized by the instructor; or
- Academic work is misrepresented as the product of a student’s sole academic effort, for the purpose of affecting the student’s grade, credit, or status in the College; or
- Sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments are used.
- Harassment - Any form of harassment including, but not limited to, racial harassment, sexual harassment or stalking, is prohibited.
- Disciplinary action may be taken against a student for violations of the foregoing regulations which occur on institutionally owned, leased, or otherwise controlled property, or which occur off campus when the conduct impairs, interferes with, or obstructs any institutional activity or the missions, processes, and functions of the institution. In addition, disciplinary action may be taken on the basis of any conduct, on or off campus, which poses a substantial threat to persons or property withing the institutional community.
- For the purpose of these regulations, a “student” shall mean any person who is registered for study at the College for any academic period. A person shall be considered a student during any period which follows the end of an academic period which the student has completed until the last day for registration for the next succeeding regular academic period, and during any period while the student is under suspension from the institution.
Misconduct involving the violation of College regulations shall be reported to the associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee. The associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee shall call the accused student to a preliminary conference where the student shall be informed of the charges against him/her and apprised of his/her basic rights as stated in these rules. The associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee shall investigate the validity of the alleged misconduct.
Following completion of the informal investigation, the associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee may: (a) determine that there is an insufficient basis, in fact, and dismiss the matter; (b) conclude that there is a sufficient factual basis for discipline and that discipline less than suspension or expulsion or removal of the college privileges would be appropriate; or (c) conclude that there is a sufficient factual basis for discipline and that discipline, including the possibility of suspension or expulsion or removal of college privileges, would be appropriate.
If discipline less than suspension or expulsion or removal of college privileges is contemplated, the associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee may, after an informal hearing, impose such discipline specified in Disciplinary Sanctions, except suspension or expulsion or removal of college privileges, as he/she believes appropriate. As used herein, informal hearing means the opportunity for the student to be informed of the basis for the conclusion of the associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee, and to present argument and evidence on his/her behalf. The student shall be informed of his/her right to appeal the associate vice president’s decision.
- Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act
All cases which may result in: (i.) suspension or expulsion of a student from the institution for disciplinary reasons, or (ii.) revocation of registration of a student organization during the term of the registration are subject to the contested case provisions of the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act and shall be processed in accordance with the contested case procedures adopted by the Tennessee Board of Regents unless the student waives those procedures in writing and elects to have his/her case disposed of in accordance with College procedures established by these rules.
- Disposition by the Associate Vice President for Student Services
In discipline cases other than academic dishonesty, a student may request that the associate vice president for student services adjudicate the case. If such a decision is made, the following procedures apply:
- The associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee shall inform the student, in person if possible, of the charges against him/her and proceed to gather information concerning the case including, but not limited to, interviews with all relevant parties (accused, accuser, and possible witnesses).
- The associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee shall review the evidence, determine whether there appears to have been a violation of the College regulations and, if so, decide upon a proper disciplinary sanction with five (5) class days. The student will be informed, in writing, of the specific disciplinary offenses and sanctions at this time.
- The accused student and the associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee shall meet and discuss the associate vice president’s findings and recommended disciplinary sanction(s). The student shall be informed of his/her right to appeal the associate vice president’s decision.
- If the student disagrees with the associate vice president for student services’ disposition of the case, he/she may request a hearing by the Student Discipline Committee. The request must be made in writing to the chairperson of the Student Discipline Committee within three (3) class days.
- Hearing by the Student Discipline Committee
A student may choose to have the case heard by the Student Discipline Committee. If such a hearing is initiated, the following procedures shall apply:
- The Student Discipline Committee is a College standing committee composed of student(s), faculty, and student services representatives.
- The accused student shall be informed in writing of the date, time, and place of the hearing, not less than five (5) working days prior to the day of the hearing.
- All hearings shall be closed unless the student requests an open hearing in writing.
- The associate vice president for student services or appropriate designee shall read the charges and present the results of the investigation.
- The student shall be given an opportunity to respond to the evidence against him/her. He/she shall have an opportunity to present his/her position, make such admissions, denials, or explanations as he/she thinks appropriate and testify or present such other evidence as is available to him/her. The technical rules of evidence normally followed in civil and criminal trial shall not apply.
- The student may be accompanied by an advisor whose participation shall be limited to advising the student and shall not include representing the student.
- The student shall have the right to call witnesses on his/her behalf and the right to hear and question the witnesses against him/her.
- Members of the committee shall have the right to ask questions.
- All evidence upon which the decision is made shall be presented at the proceedings before the committee.
- After all the presentations of evidence and testimony, the committee shall retire to discuss the case and render a decision.
- The student shall be notified of the decision, in writing, within five (5) days of the hearing and shall be advised of his/her right to appeal the decision of the Student Discipline Committee to the president of the College.
A student may be summarily suspended from the College if, in the judgment of College officials, the student’s continued presence represents an immediate threat to himself/herself, other students and/or college employees, or will result in the destruction of property or substantial disruption of campus activities. In any case of summary suspension, the student shall be provided a hearing on the suspension as soon as possible.
- Appeal of Decision of a Hearing held Pursuant to Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act
A student’s right to appeal a decision resulting from a hearing held pursuant to the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (TUAPA) shall be governed by the provisions of TUAPA.
- Appeal of Decision of the Associate Vice President for Student Services
A student who wishes to challenge the disciplinary sanction(s) imposed by the associate vice president must file an appeal, in writing, with the chairperson of the Student Discipline Committee within three (3) class days after sanction(s) are imposed.
- The committee will consider the following in hearing the appeal:
- was the hearing process followed;
- was the evidence in the case substantial enough to justify a decision against the student;
- has new and substantial evidence been discovered to justify a new hearing;
- was the sanction imposed by the associate vice president for student services in keeping with the gravity of the offense.
- The committee may affirm, or reverse in whole or in part, or remand the matter for a new hearing.
- Appeal of Decision of Student Discipline Committee
A student may appeal a decision of the Student Discipline Committee to the president of the College. Such appeal must be filed within three (3) class days of receipt of the committee’s decision.
In cases of alleged sexual assault, regardless of the method chosen by the student for disposition of the disciplinary matter, both the accused and the accuser shall be informed of the following:
- Both the accuser and the accused are entitled to the same opportunity to have others present during a disciplinary proceeding; and,
- Both the accuser and the accused shall be informed of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding involving allegations of sexual assault within five (5) days of the decision.
Upon a determination that a student or organization has violated any of the rules or regulations or has committed any disciplinary offense set forth in these regulations, the following disciplinary sanctions may be imposed, either singly or in combination, by the appropriate institutional officials.
A student who has committed an offense against property may be required to reimburse the institution or other owner for damage to or misappropriation of such property. Any such payment in restitution shall be limited to actual cost of repair or replacement.
The appropriate institutional official may notify the student that continuation or repetition of specified conduct may be cause for other disciplinary action.
A written reprimand, or censure, may be given any student or organization whose conduct violates any part of these regulations. Such a reprimand does not restrict the student in any way, but does have important consequences. It signifies to the student that he/she is in effect being given another chance to conduct himself/herself as a proper member of the institutional community, but that any further violation may result in more serious penalties.
A restriction upon a student’s or organization’s privileges for a period of time may be imposed. This restriction may include, for example, denial of the right to represent the institution in any way, denial of use of facilities, parking privileges, participation in extracurricular activities or restriction of organizational privileges.
Continued enrollment of a student on probation may be conditioned upon adherence to these regulations. Any student placed on probation will be notified of such in writing and will also be notified of the terms and length of the probation. Probation may include restrictions upon the extracurricular activities of a student. Any conduct in violation of these regulations while on probationary status may result in the imposition of a more serious disciplinary sanction.
If a student is suspended, he/she is separated from the institution for a stated period of time with conditions of readmission stated in the notice of suspension.
Expulsion entails a permanent separation from the institution. The imposition of this sanction is a permanent bar to the student’s readmission to the institution.
Service to the College
A student may be required to donate a specified number of service hours to the College, by way of performing reasonable tasks for the appropriate College office or official. This service shall be commensurate to the offense the student is guilty of violating (i.e., service to maintenance staff for defacing College property).
Special Educational Program
A student may be required to participate in any special educational program relevant to the offense (i.e., alcohol education program for alcohol-related offense; conflict resolution program for violent misconduct; etc.), to attend special seminars or educational programs, or to prepare a project or report concerning a relevant topic.
The president for the College is authorized, at his/her discretion, to subsequently convert any sanction imposed to a lesser sanction, or to rescind any previous sanction, in appropriate cases.
Student Academic and Classroom Misconduct
The instructor has the primary responsibility for control over classroom behavior and maintenance of academic integrity, and can order the temporary removal or exclusion from the classroom of any student engaged in disruptive conduct or conduct violative of the general rules and regulations of the institution. Extended or permanent exclusion from the classroom or further disciplinary action can be effected only through appropriate procedures of the institution.
Plagiarism, cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited. Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are immediately responsible to the instructor of the class. In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions which may be imposed through the regular institutional procedures as a result of academic misconduct, the instructor has the authority to assign an “F” or “zero” for the exercise or examination, or to assign an “F” in the course.
If the student believes that he/she has been erroneously accused of academic misconduct, and if his/her final grade has been lowered as a result, the student may appeal the case through the appropriate institutional procedures.
Disruptive behavior in the classroom may be defined as, but is not limited to, behavior that obstructs or disrupts the learning environment (e.g., offensive language, harassment of students and professors, repeated outbursts from a student which disrupt the flow of instruction or prevent concentration on the subject taught, failure to cooperate in maintaining classroom decorum, etc.), the continued use of any electronic or other noise or light-emitting device which disrupts others (e.g., disturbing noises from beepers, cell phones, palm pilots, laptop computers, games, etc.).
Class attendance and punctuality requirements are contracted between the faculty and the students, through specific expectations for attendance and punctuality and specific consequences that are outlined by individual faculty members in the printed syllabus for each course.
Students are expected to attend classes regularly and on time and are responsible for giving explanations/rationale for absences and lateness directly to the faculty member for each course in which they are enrolled.
In cases where student absences are the result of emergency circumstances (e.g., death in the family, a student’s serious injury, or incapacitating illness), for which students are unable to make immediate contact with faculty, the student may contact the Student Services office for assistance in providing such immediate notification to faculty. However, the student remains responsible for verifying the emergency circumstances to faculty and for discussing arrangements with faculty for completion of course work requirements.
Any student who is found guilty of an act of misconduct may be subjected to one or more of the following penalties:
- his/her grade in the course or courses or on the examination affected by the misconduct may be reduced to an extent, including a reduction to failure;
- he/she may be suspended from the College for a specific or an indefinite period, the suspension to begin at any time;
- he/she may be dismissed from the College immediately, at the end of any session ending in the future, or retroactively as of the end of any session during which the act of misconduct was committed.
In cases of academic misconduct, the student may appeal the action of the instructor to: the division dean and finally to the executive vice president - provost for academic and student programs and services. The executive vice president - provost may appoint a committee to review and resolve the issue. These procedures should be followed within thirty (30) days of a specific incident(s) or issuance of a final grade. All appeals must be in writing.
Student Conduct and Health Sciences Programs
Students at Columbia State Community College who have chosen to prepare for a career in one of the health sciences programs have placed themselves into a relationship where there is a special concern relative to the possession or use of drugs or controlled substances. In addition, clinical affiliate institutions require that students enrolled in several of the health sciences programs participate in routine drug screening and criminal background checks prior to attending clinical assignments. In these career fields there are major problems relative to employability, licensure, and professional ethics for anyone involved in the possession or use of controlled substances.
In the event of such alleged misconduct by a student(s) in any health sciences program, the following procedure may be used:
If a student(s) enrolled in a health sciences program is:
- arrested by duly authorized law enforcement officers and charged with unlawful possession or use of drugs or controlled substances, or the sale or distribution of any such drug or controlled substances; or
- if there is other substantive evidence that a student enrolled in a health sciences program is unlawfully in possession of or using any drug or controlled substance; then the program director shall inform the division dean in writing as soon as possible. Such written communication shall convey the specific nature of alleged involvement with drugs or controlled substances by the student, including any supportive facts or documentation: time, places, circumstances, witnesses or other persons who possess knowledge of the alleged student involvement.
The division dean shall evaluate the substance of such information presented and shall:
- arrange a conference with the student and the program director as soon as possible after having reviewed the report;
- the student shall be informed of the alleged charges and shall be provided an opportunity respond to such charges;
- based upon the conference proceedings, the division dean shall recommend to the executive vice president - provost for academic and student programs and services an appropriate action. Sanctions which may be recommended are listed under Disciplinary Sanctions in these rules and may be limited in applicability to the program status of the student.
The executive vice president - provost for academic and student programs and services shall review the charges and proceedings and shall take such action as is deemed appropriate.
Any student charged with misconduct may be required to appear before the associate vice president for student services or the Student Discipline Committee. Such action may be in lieu of, or in addition to, action taken by the health sciences program.
All cases which may result in suspension or expulsion of a student from the College, or a health sciences program, for disciplinary reasons are subject to the contested-case provisions of the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act and shall be processed in accordance with the uniform-contested case procedures adopted by the Tennessee Board of Regents unless the student waives those procedures in writing and elects to have his/her case disposed of in accordance with College procedures established by these rules. The associate vice president for student services shall provide information to students relative to the uniform-contested case procedures.
In each case, every effort will be made to assure that appropriate due process procedures are followed.
Student Participation on College Committees
Students participate in the governance of Columbia State through service on college standing committees. The president of the Student Government Association recommends the appointment of students to all standing committees at the beginning of each academic year. Additionally, students have the opportunity to effect change at the state level through service on Tennessee Board of Regents subcommittees or as a regent on the full board. These appointments are made by the president for the College and are rotated among the colleges, universities, and technology centers in the system.