Overview: Parents and guardians will occasionally solicit information from faculty, advisers, and others regarding their student’s performance and experience. We recognize that such requests reflect the wish to support the personal and academic success of their sons and daughters. This document has been prepared for the parents of entering students to describe our parent-notification policies and to explain the goals and constraints that influence how we handle conversations with parents and guardians.
Denison’s Student Handbook articulates in its forward our guiding philosophy regarding our students:
Denison regards its students as moral agents who are capable of assuming primary responsibility for conducting their lives and making their decisions. Central to the mission of the University is the continual development of a community of respect, in which the principles of human dignity and ethical integrity are paramount. Rational dialogue and discourse determine the character of our interaction with each other.
All members of the University’s staff, including faculty, administrators, support staff and student staff, recognize that our students have varying levels of maturity, as well as a range of experience levels with regard to decision-making and self-advocacy. We view the college experience as an important opportunity for developing the skills that will help them become effective and responsible adults.
In our conversations with parents and guardians, Denison staff must balance several concerns: our goal of establishing effective relationships with students ourselves, which must be premised on trust and confidentiality; a desire to avoid inserting ourselves in the middle of the parent-child relationship; and a wish to speak openly and honestly with parents about our observations of their sons and daughters. As a general rule and in an effort to protect the integrity of our relationships with students, we avoid sharing with parents insights and information gleaned from private conversations with students, since those conversations are undertaken with the presumption of confidentiality.
When asked for grade or academic performance information, we will encourage parents first to try to obtain the information they seek directly from their student. If parents are unable to obtain the information they seek from their student, there are legal conditions in which we may be able to provide the necessary data for students who are legal dependents and under the age of 21. That said, we are always willing to explain policies and protocols of the University and to consult with parents as they counsel their sons and daughters.
There are three general areas in which decisions must occasionally be made to contact parents regarding their students. These are described below.
Denison generally operates on the presumption that students’ grades are not to be shared without the express permission of individual students; exceptions include a student’s academic advisor and selected Denison staff. Grades are available electronically to students through their “myDenison” accounts and are, under certain circumstances, mailed to students’ Slayter mailboxes or home addresses. Grades are not mailed to parents or guardians unless the Registrar’s office has been directed by the student to do so; this can be accomplished easily by the student completing a brief form in the Registrar’s Office.
A student whose cumulative grade point average is below a 2.0 is placed on academic probation until the student returns to good standing by earning a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better. A student who falls in any semester below a 1.0 GPA is immediately suspended. Parents will be notified, whether the student has signed the waiver or not, if the student’s mid-term or end-of-semester grades put that student at risk of academic suspension: parents are notified when a student’s mid-term grade point average is 2.0 or less, and when a student’s end-of-semester GPA is less than 2.0. In such an eventuality, the Registrar, the Dean of First-Year Students, Student Life, or the Director of Academic Support can talk with parents and students to explain protocols during probation or suspension.
Denison operates a professionally-staffed, 24-hour health care facility providing most aspects of primary care for our students. Medical care includes routine diagnoses and treatment, including lab testing, minor surgery, repair of lacerations, administration of allergy injections and immunizations, follow-up care after surgery, physical examinations and consultation and counseling around medical problems. The Whisler Center for Student Wellness dispenses some prescriptions; others can be filled at local pharmacies. The Whisler Center for Student Wellness also provides education and counseling regarding reproductive health, and provides birth control products to students seeking them. Denison’s Counseling Service provides individual and group counseling, usually on a short-term basis, as well as educational programming on topics including test anxiety and stress management, body image concerns and eating disorders, and depression.
Consistent with federal law, the Whisler Center for Student Wellness is prohibited from sharing a student’s medical or counseling records with anyone - parents, faculty, administrators or other students - unless the student has given express consent. Not only are Health and Counseling Services prohibited from sharing detailed information regarding complaints or diagnoses, but they must also refrain from confirming even that a student has visited the Whisler Center for Student Wellness. Students may sign a form permitting release of information on a per-incident basis. Representatives of the University will contact parents, however, in any situation in which they believe a student’s life is at risk in either medical or psychological terms. In the event that a student is transported to the hospital in a life-threatening emergency, or that a counselor determines that a student is in imminent risk of harming him- or herself or others, parents will be contacted either by a representative of the University or by a hospital physician.
Denison’s Code of Student Conduct is rooted in our campus values, and describes the rights and responsibilities of all members of our community. It establishes the ways in which we expect all members of the community to treat one another, and the ways in which mutual respect is to be enacted in day-to-day terms on our campus. Violation of the Code, violation of federal, state, or local law, and/or conduct which is deemed unsuitable at the University may initiate judicial action. When a student is found responsible for any such violation through a hearing process, a sanction will be imposed. Sanctions reflect both the nature of the violation and the presence of a judicial history and therefore range in severity. The lightest sanction is a letter of warning, notifying a student that a violation has occurred and warning against new violations. Disciplinary probation may be imposed in instances of serious misconduct or after repeated violations, and carries with it loss of certain privileges and the threat of disciplinary suspension in the event of new violations. Disciplinary suspension and expulsion are the most severe sanctions and require the student to leave campus.
It is the policy of the University not to release information related to the details of a judicial matter without the express permission of the student; exceptions include selected Denison personnel. Students who wish others to have access to their judicial records must sign a release for this to occur. Parents will, however, be notified by the University if a student is placed on disciplinary probation, or when a student is suspended or expelled on disciplinary grounds. Parents or guardians will also be notified if their son or daughter has a second alcohol violation or is transported to the hospital for an alcohol overdose. Throughout our interactions with students during the processing of a judicial matter, we actively encourage them to be in communication with their families about their status, both to seek the guidance of their parents and to obtain their support.
Further questions about Denison’s Parent Notification Procedures can be directed to the Dean of First-Year Students or to the specific office involved: the Office of the Registrar, the Whisler Center for Student Wellness, or the Office of Student Development. Office of First-Year Programs.