Other Course & College Policies

Introduction

When I first started teaching at CBC in the mid 1990’s, the college was a lot smaller and it was run on a much more informal basis. There weren’t a lot of official policies which made it possible to handle problems and situations on personal basis. It was kind of a quaint backwater in a fast changing society. But as the college grew and as society became more litigious things changed. There are now official policies that define exactly what will happen for almost everything that students and faculty will do. The college now has dozens of policies you should be aware of that spell out how you will behave as a student or how the college and it’s employees must treat you. For example there’s the Academic Honesty Policy, that defines cheating and it’s consequences, as well as the Non-Discrimination & Disability Policy which defines how the college must treat everyone in certain protected groups the same, unless you have a disability in which case special accommodations may be made.

If you love reading legal documents and have several hours to kill you can read all of the CBC Student Policies. I don’t really expect that anyone will read and understand all of the policies, but I do expect that you’ll read this document which contains summaries of the Computer Science Department and CBC policies pertinent to this class.

Computer Science Lab and College Network Policies

The first set of policies you need to understand involves the use of the college computers and networks. The official policies can be found at Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources.

These policies can pretty much be summed up by saying that you can only use the college computers and networks for class work, but here are some specific items you need to be aware of:

  1. No food or drinks in the Computer Science Labs
  2. Do not connect your computer to the wired network
  3. Do not install software
  4. Do not download files illegally
  5. Lab printers can only be used for classwork
  6. Do not use the college computers to violate the law
  7. Report problems

No food or drinks in the Computer Science Labs. We need to keep the computers in working order for everyone, which means you are NOT allowed to bring food or drinks into the Computer Science labs. We used to allow students to bring drinks into the labs but you’d be amazed at the number of spills we had to clean up and the how many keyboards we had to replace. You can’t even bring in drinks in covered containers or set them on the floor. We also tried this and still had problems. Just drink up before class if you’re thirsty.

Do not connect your computer to the wired network. The next thing we need to talk about is connecting to the CBC network. You can access the CBC student wireless network for free on campus. If you need help you can get help from the campus Technology Services department. You can find instructions for connecting to the network and other services such as online printing at:

https://www.columbiabasin.edu/i-am/current-hawk/student-resources/technology-services/index.html

While you are free to use the wireless network, you can NOT connect your personal computer to the college the wired network without your instructor’s permission. If you try to connect an unauthorized device to the wired network, it generates an alarm which alerts the network administrator of an attempted intrusion. We’ve had students try this, even after being warned, and they ended up getting kicked out of the program. This isn’t to say that you can’t use the computers already connected to the wired network. When you have a class in one of the Computer Science Labs you can use the computers in the lab that are connected to the wired network. You just can’t connect your own computer to the network.

Do not install software. You are also not allowed to install software on the college computers or access any college network resources unless you have been directed to by the instructor. You can waste your time on Facebook since it’s web based if you want, but don’t install Minecraft or a bitcoin miner.

Do not download files illegally. And don’t perform illegal downloads at the college. If you start playing Minecraft or use a torrent for downloading our Network Admin will know. We have several ports blocked, but we also have network alarms set and they tell the Net Admin exactly which machine is being used.

Lab printers can only be used for classwork. You can use the printers in the Computer Science labs for class work only. You can use the printers on the wireless network for other material, although you only get ~400 hundred pages each quarter so choose wisely. Almost every quarter we have someone who gets caught printing a hundred yard sale flyers. When they get caught they have to talk with the Dean of Student Services who makes them promise to never do it again and then pay for the copies.

One of the Computer Science labs is also used by the Art Department, and has some very high end printers. Do NOT use these printers unless you are taking one of the Art classes.

Do not use the college computers to violate the law. There’s a long list of other State and Federal crimes you can’t commit at the college. For example, you aren’t allowed to harass or threaten anyone via electronic communication in any form, commit computer fraud, or break into the college servers and change your grades. You wouldn’t think I’d have to tell you this, but we’ve had students mistakenly thought they were anonymous at the college and get into some serious trouble. We’ve caught students downloading porn, installing network sniffers; and even one that made some death threats against his employer. Those that violated the college policy were kicked out of the Computer Science labs, which made it hard for them to graduate. If you violate city, state or federal laws you will face criminal charges as well as being kicked out of the labs. The guy who made the death threat was arrested, and the authorities confiscated one of our computers to use as evidence.

Rather than listing all of the things you can’t do, maybe it would just be easier to say you need to be good in the Computer Science labs.

Report problems. The last thing I want to say about the Comp Sci labs is that we need your help to keep everything working smoothly. With as many computers as we have there’s almost always one or two that have some type of problem. If you do find a computer that’s having a problem you can try to reboot it; but if that doesn’t work please let the instructor or one of the Computer Science department staff or faculty know about it so we can get it fixed. When we have a computer that’s having problems we hang a “Please Do Not Use” sign on it, so if you see one of these try a different computer.

Academic Honesty Policy

As members of Columbia Basin College learning community, students are not to engage in any form of academic dishonesty. Forms of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, grade tampering, and misuse of computers and other electronic technology. Students who engage in academic dishonesty may receive an academic penalty or a disciplinary penalty or both. Instances of academic dishonesty may be referred to the Vice President for Student Services in accordance with the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), section 132S-100-280 and the CBC Student Code of Conduct. The possible disciplinary consequences of engaging in any form of academic dishonesty include reprimand, probation, suspension, and dismissal. A student who knowingly helps or attempts to help another individual to violate the college’s policy on academic honesty also may be subject to academic, as well as disciplinary penalties.

Students are expected to be familiar with CBC policy on academic dishonesty.

In any of my classes you can work with other students on homework, but you must do your own work on the tests. All of the exams have instructions that make it very clear that you must do your own work and using any outside assistance is prohibited. If you collaborate with other students, or copy from another student on the exams you will receive a letter stating that you have violated CBC’s Academic Honesty Policy, and that you have flunked the class. And I don’t try to figure out who may have done the real work and who is copying, everyone involved flunks. I probably have to do this every 2 or 3 years, and it’s no fun for me or the people I catch cheating. So please just follow the rules and do your own work.

As explained above, in addition to the academic consequence of flunking there may be administrative consequences for violations of the Academic Honesty Policy. However the administrative consequences are out of my jurisdiction so you will also be referred to the CBC Dean of Student Services, where your administrative consequences are decided. The Dean will decide the appropriate consequence, something between standing in the corner, to getting kicked out of the college altogether.

So please do your own work, as we have several systems in place to detect cheating and copying, and they work surprisingly well. If someone asks to copy your work, don’t let them; just tell them the wrong answers so you don’t get in trouble too.

Privacy

Columbia Basin College abides by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that maintains a student’s right to privacy with regard to their academic records. CBC will not release student information or student records to a parent or guardian without the student’s written permission. Students who wish to authorize an instructor to provide information to your parent(s) guardian(s), or others, must complete the necessary authorization, which is available in the Office of Admissions and Registration. Please note that while this policy protects your privacy, it also places restrictions on how I, the instructor, can communicate with you about your grades. Specifically, I cannot discuss your grades via email or the phone, and I cannot speak to anyone other than you about your grades. If someone else is paying for your schooling, such as a parent or state funded retraining program, I can’t communicate anything about your status with them unless you sign the release mentioned above. For more information on FERPA please see the FERPA page on the CBC website, or at the U.S. Department of Education.

Student Code of Conduct

I’m always a little dismayed when we get to this part of the class introduction, the part where we talk about the Student Code of Conduct (SCC) document, which is available online at https://www.columbiabasin.edu/_documents/handbooks-guides-reports/studentcodeofconduct819.pdf

The SCC document describes how students can expect to be treated and how they are expected to behave. It also describes the process that will be followed if there are any problems. It’s sad to me that we need a document that tells students they can’t show up to class drunk or high, or bring guns or threaten other people; but apparently we do. What’s even sadder is that I’ve actually had a couple students come to class drunk, and one tweaker; but luckily no gun play or violence.

I don’t want to go over the entire SCC document here, but I do just want to summarize it and say that I expect us to treat each other with respect in both our actions and our language, which I expect to be G rated. If there are minor policy violations, such as bad language, you will get ONE warning. Second offenses or non-minor violations will result in the following consequences:

  1. I will call Campus Security and have you removed from the class.
  2. You will flunk the class.
  3. The incident will be documented and referred to the Dean of Student Services.
  4. The Dean of Student Services will send you a registered letter informing you of any further process steps or legal action the college will take. This Dean tracks students behavior across campus, and may impose additional consequences if the behavior is considered serious, or a pattern of improper behavior develops.
  5. If the Dean of Student Services requests that I let you back in the class, I will; but you will have flunked.

In legal terms there are two sets of consequences for SCC violations such as cheating on a test or bullying other students. There are academic consequences such as failing a test or failing the class, and there are administrative consequences such as being suspended from a class or being banned from campus. The instructors are given the power to determine the academic consequences, but they are not allowed to determine administrative consequences. Administrative consequences are determined and enforced by the college administration, which is why all violations will be reported to the college administration. This way they can track a student’s behavior and throughout their college career and see if someone is exhibiting a pattern of unacceptable behavior and deal with it appropriately. For example, they may not kick you out if you cheat on an assignment in one class, but if you cheat in every class they will certainly take action.

The bad behavior I’ve experienced the most is “being a distraction”. In the classroom it’s the person who wants to talk loudly during lecture, or asks a million questions, or has to comment on everything being said. This type of behavior is the classic definition of a distraction as it makes it difficult for the other students to learn. In online classes I’ve seen students post inappropriate material in the discussion boards or send spam to their fellow students, preventing or getting in the way of the learning process. In any case, being a distraction is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and subject to disciplinary action. Some students mistakenly believe that the First Amendment of the US Constitution protects their Right to Free Speech and allows them to say whatever they want in a class. The First Amendment does provide the right to free speech, but this doesn’t mean that you can say whatever you want whenever you want. The courts have ruled on cases that define some practical limits on free speech. One of these rulings, by the Supreme Court of the United States, has ruled that you cannot be a distraction in a classroom setting.

I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV, so you should be careful about taking my legal advice without doing your own research. Just in case you’re interested, here are a couple of articles that illustrate my point about first amendment rights and limits on those rights.

http://1forall.us/about/the-first-amendment/#a10
http://www.acluvt.org/pubs/students_rights/speech.php

If someone ends up being a distraction they’ll get the one warning. But if the behavior persists, and especially if I get complaints from the other students, the person being a distraction will flunk the class and be referred to the Dean of Student Services who will determine whether any administrative consequences should be applied.

Student Complaints

The flip side of this is your rights as a student. I can’t make you wash my van or buy me lunch, or arbitrarily pick on you. If you have any complaints as a student, the Student Complaint Process details the steps that must be followed to resolve the problem. You should always try to resolve the problem with the instructor first. If this doesn’t satisfy you, refer to the Student Complaint Process for the next steps.

The reason I tell you this is because the full time instructors in the Computer Science Department, of which I’m one, all feel responsibility for the Department. In other words, this is like our own small business that we all want to see it succeed and have a good reputation. We constantly have former students come back and tell us that they feel they got a great education at CBC, and the things we taught them proved valuable in the workplace.

However, some of our classes are taught by part time faculty, which we refer to as adjunct faculty. Before the last economic recession we had several adjunct teachers and many evening classes. Most of the evening adjuncts were pretty good, but to be perfectly honest a couple were horrible. And since they were teaching night classes the only way we found out was when a student complained. I know as a student you may be hesitant to complain for fear of retaliation, but if you have a valid complaint about a Computer Science instructor we would really like you to tell someone.

No Exceptions to Class Policies

By law, I have to treat all the students the same, give them the same exams, opportunities etc. In other words I have to grade all of the tests the same and I can’t give extra credit opportunities to one student unless I make the same opportunities available to all of the students. Instructors have been sued because they let one student retake a test but didn’t let all their students retake the test. The instructors lost the court cases, which I think is totally correct. So, in other words, I can’t make any exceptions to the class policies, including the exams and grading policies. It’s not only unfair to the other students, it’s against the law, and I won’t do it.

Asking For Exceptions

I’ve had students who are failing the class come in the last week and ask me if there’s anything they can do to pass. By this point it’s always too late, especially if they haven’t turned in assignments or taken tests. Short of turning back time with a Tardis or a time machine there’s nothing that can be done. Most students understand why I have to treat everyone the same, but I’ve had a couple who were, well let’s say they were very persistent. One student listened to my explanation, then asked if I would change my mind if he got the Dean of the Computer Science Department to say it was ok. I said “No”. Then he went on to ask if I would change my mind if he got my Mom, or the Vice-President or the President of the College to sign off. I tried to explain that if the President of the College said it was ok to steal a car, it’s still not ok to steal a car. He kept this up for 20 minutes, and to be honest it was getting pretty annoying. I told him the conversation was over and it was time for him to leave. But he kept at it for another 5 minutes, even after I told him I was going to have to call Security to escort him out. He still kept at it until I picked up the phone and started to dial.

So in honor of him and to avoid wasting any more of my life I developed a new class policy on asking for exceptions. You can ask for an exception once for free and I will tell you “no” and remind you why. After that, I’ll take off 100 points each time you ask until you’re out of points. At that point you will have flunked the class and if you won’t leave I’ll call Security and have you removed. I’m only kidding about taking away points or making you flunk the class. But I am serious about how annoying this can be and my desire for you to be aware that being annoying is not going to make me change my mind.

To finish this story, it took me a few years but I finally figured out why my problem student behaved the way he did. When my step-daughter went through high-school she basically quit going in her junior year. She’d be flunking every class, but at the end of every quarter she’d ask the teacher if there was anything she could do to pass. The instructors all told her she could get a D and pass the class if she would complete some sort of report or portfolio. She’d come home and print out a bunch of Wikipedia pages, use up all our printer paper and ink, turn it in and get a D. I’m sure the teachers didn’t even look at what she turned in, they just gave her a D and passed her on. As you probably guessed, my problem student was right out of high school and thought he could play the same grade game in college.

Reasonable Accommodations for Students With Disabilities

Remember how I said I sometimes lied. Well I just told my first lie, I actually can make exceptions to class policies. The caveat is that I can’t make exceptions on my own. I can only make exceptions with guidance from CBC’s Disability Support Services (DSS). If you have any type of disability that you feel may make it difficult for you to succeed Disability Support Services will try to help. They’ve helped blind students by finding books in Braille or having someone narrate the book to tape or MP3. Or they’ve arranged for a quiet room and possibly extra time for students with test anxiety. They have an entire arsenal of possible solutions that we can use to remove or reduce barriers to your success.

So I can make an exception, but only if DSS asks me to. For example, I’ve had deaf students who have had a sign language interpreter accompany them to class. Normally I am not allowed to let anyone who has not registered and paid. But since Educational Access asked me to, I was able to make an exception.

You should be aware that DSS negotiates accommodations for their student clients with each instructor. There are some accommodations that are required by law, but others are discretionary and the instructor may not implement everything suggested by Educational Access. For example, Educational Access often asks that students with Test Anxiety be allowed twice the normal time for tests. In some classes I teach the tests are not timed and students have all quarter to complete them. When I explain this to the DSS staff they have agreed that it would be unreasonable to expect that students be given twice as long, or 2 quarters, to finish the tests for these classes. However a couple classes I teach do use timed tests. This happens when there are multiple sections of a class and I’m not the only one who teaches it. In this case, all of the instructors have agreed to setup the class and tests in ways that stay consistent. In any case, if the tests do have a time limit it’s perfectly reasonable to accomodate students with test anxiety by allowing twice as much time to complete the test.

Campus Closures and Emergencies

The last college policies we need to discuss are the Emergency Notification and Campus Closure policies. The main thing I’d like to do is request that all of you with cell phones sign up for the Emergency Notification system. I’ve signed up, but for some reason I get all my messages about 4 hours after they’re sent … so if there’s a real emergency I’m always the last to know.

The other thing is that you should be aware of, if you’re taking a class that requires you to come to campus, is how to check for weather related closures. CBC doesn’t close for weather very often, not near as often as the K12 schools, but we have had some “snow days”. If the campus does close you’ll get a message on your phone if you’ve signed up, or you can check the CBC website, or you can listen to the KONA AM and FM radio stations. I’d like to add a note that the weather closure decision is based on driving conditions in the Tri-Cities, so it may be different if you live somewhere else. If the roads are bad where you’re at, please just stay home. It’s not worth risking your life or your car to share an hour with me or to get a couple of points for attending class.