The Role and Responsibilities of a University and its Students
As students transition into the world of higher education, you are presented with many challenges. Issues of freedom, choice, rights, and responsibilities are paramount during this stage. Because of this and current national events, increasing attention has been devoted to clarifying the role and duties of an institution of higher education regarding its students. While Drexel University strives to offer an excellent educational experience to our students, everyone needs to be very aware of the limitations the law and reality impose on the manner in which we operate as an institution of higher education. We have become even more mindful of the need to clearly define our obligations regarding the scope of care we are able to deliver within this environment while respecting and protecting your rights and responsibilities to manage your own affairs.
DREXEL UNIVERSITY DOES NOT HAVE, AND WILL NOT ASSUME, PARENTAL RIGHTS OR DUTIES FOR ITS STUDENTS
Because Drexel is an institution of higher education, you should know that it is not subject to all of the laws and regulations that apply to students in elementary, middle and high schools. For example, those schools are generally responsible for the welfare of the students entrusted to their care, and are typically obligated to provide services and plans that address their students' medical needs.
That matrix of rights and responsibilities does not exist in a university, where the students are considered adults with their own rights of privacy and autonomy, are legally responsible for their own actions, and where individuality and differences are respected and encouraged. The principles of "in loco parentis" ("in the place of the parents") do not apply in the university environment and Drexel does not assume parental responsibilities, rights or control over its students. Instead, the obligations Drexel honors are those that apply to adults in general and those that are otherwise required by law.
This difference between high school and college is easy to see in many respects. Universities are not generally obligated to provide medical care or medical assistance to students with specific medical conditions, although such services may be offered. Universities are not obligated to create an Individual Education Plan for students with learning disabilities, and there are no statutorily created appellate rights by which to challenge whether an education is "appropriate". Parents no longer have the same right to access the educational or medical records of their children. Students have academic advisors, each degree program has its own requirements, and reasonable accommodations are made as required by law; but it is each student's individual responsibility to exercise his or her own initiative to meet with the advisor, choose the courses, request accommodations, seek needed academic services, and satisfy the degree requirements.
So it is with the health and disability services that Drexel offers. We have a student health center on Drexel's University City Campus, which has limited hours of operation and provides limited services. Several excellent hospitals where students needing more intensive care can quickly be seen are in the immediate vicinity of campus. For those services, each student needs to make his or her own arrangements, and it is the student's responsibility and decision as to whether or not he or she will follow the advice and recommendations of the health care providers.
Our programs of education are accessible to students with disabilities. However, it is the responsibility of each student who needs a reasonable accommodation to contact Disability Resources to have their request considered.
The medical information the student shares with his or her health care provider is confidential and protected by federal and state privacy laws. With limited exceptions, such information is not generally known to the University. Other federal privacy laws, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), may also restrict the University from sharing information about a student with parents, spouses or significant others. Students can grant others access to that information by signing the appropriate form.
In higher education, students are treated as adults. At Drexel, vast opportunities and great challenges await our students. The life of our students takes place in a fast-paced and rigorous academic environment, and students are expected to balance the many academic, employment, cultural and social opportunities available to them to get the most out of their college experience. We are delighted that you are interested in coming to Drexel and want you to succeed in accomplishing your goals as a Drexel student. Your success will depend upon how well you assume your responsibility to get the most out of your higher education experience.