Carol T. Christ, Chancellor; Lisa Alvarez Cohen, Chair, Academic Senate
February 1, 2018
As we start the Spring semester, we write to refresh your memory regarding the campus policies and guidelines around accommodations for students in academic programs.
The purpose of academic accommodations is to ensure that all students have a fair chance at academic success. The campus has well-developed processes in place for students to request accommodations, and students are encouraged to use these processes. We urge you to honor requests made within this framework.
Properly managing requests for accommodations can often require instructors to devote additional time and attention to meeting student-specific needs. We appreciate your cooperation and value the benefit it confers on our students.
Types of Accommodation Requests
While individual circumstances can vary, requests for accommodations often fall into one of the following categories:
- Pregnancy and parenting
- Conflicts between extracurricular activities and academic requirements; and
- Accommodation of religious creed
The relevant policies and protocols for each of these accommodations types can be found online at the Academic Calendar and Student Accommodation website.
In addition, we would also like to highlight two additional types of situations that can also warrant academic accommodation:
- Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment; and
Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment Accommodations
The 2016 University of California Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence (“SVSH Policy”), in alignment with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, requires the campus to provide appropriate accommodations to student victims/survivors of sexual harassment, stalking, sexual assault, dating violence and domestic violence.
The SVSH policy identifies a number of appropriate measures, including but not limited to the following: excusing absences; issuing Incomplete grades; making reasonable academic and work adjustments in the areas of class sessions, exams, tests, project, deadlines, field trips, and any other required activities; developing alternative assignments; and permitting test-taking and course attendance in alternative locations.
The SVSH Policy can be found online here: policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000385/SHSV.
Requests for accommodations of the type mentioned in the SVSH policy may come from any of several campus centers. As instructors, you are doubtless already aware of the requirement to honor accommodations requests that come from the Disabled Students Program (DSP) or from the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). However, well-founded requests for SVSH-related accommodations may also come from other campus offices, including the PATH to Care Center, Social Services, and Student Affairs Case Management.
Instructors are reminded to preserve the confidentiality of a request made on behalf of a student. Questions about the appropriateness, suitability, feasibility, and policy implications of a requested accommodation should be directed, not to the student in question, but to the campus office that has recommended the accommodation.
Hardships such as housing or food insecurity, uncertain documentation and immigration status, serious medical and mental health concerns, and significant familial distress, directly affect a student’s ability to be present and committed to their educational endeavors. While instructors are required to respect accommodations requested through DSP, well-founded requests may also come from other sources, such as Student Affairs Case Management. We encourage you to work with the notifying office to determine whether an adjustment, even if not required by law, might still be appropriate to allow. Instructors are encouraged to refer students to student affairs case management to advise students experiencing significant hardships.
As with accommodations for illness, the Senate guidelines, referenced above, advise faculty to use flexibility and good judgment in determining whether to excuse missed work, extend deadlines, or substitute an alternative assignment.
Privacy and Respect
It is important to bear in mind that students may be reluctant to share details about the reason they need academic accommodations, due to a desire for privacy in difficult circumstances, or to the stigma attached to some of these concerns. We encourage instructors who have questions about accommodation requests to work with Student Affairs Case Management or other notifying offices to provide holistic support to students in a way that minimizes their need to repeatedly disclose sensitive information to multiple people in order to receive assistance.
Thank you for all that you do to support the academic success of our students. Again, we encourage you to review the Academic Calendar and Student Accommodation website to become familiar with our campus policies, guidelines, and relevant contacts. Please reach out to the appropriate office if you have any concerns or questions regarding accommodation requests.
Lisa Alvarez Cohen
Chair, Academic Senate
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