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1. Introduction

Randolph Hall

The College of Charleston, one of the country’s few colleges that can trace its origins back to the colonial period, was founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785. It is the oldest institution of higher education in South Carolina and the first municipal college in the United States. Today’s campus is a modern facility which supports a community of students, faculty, professionals, and staff striving to fulfill the college’s mission as a liberal arts institution in a complex and changing world.

The College of Charleston is a liberal arts and sciences institution, which includes a School of Education, Health, and Human Performance and a School of Business and Economics. Liberally educated men and women gain a broad acquaintance with the principal areas of human knowledge: the humanities (literature, languages, history, and philosophy), mathematics, logic, the fine arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. They have mastered the basic intellectual skills: how to reason logically, how to think critically, how to communicate effectively, and how to perceive the wide implications of what they have learned.

At the core of the College of Charleston community are individuals from diverse backgrounds whose lives are intertwined in support of the uplifting of the human condition through comprehensive studies. As with all communities, there is a moral code of ethical behavior that binds participants together, and a body of official rules and regulations that defines personal freedoms and responsibilities. The latter is codified in the College of Charleston Honor Code and Code of Conduct – our Honor System. The Honor System applies to all members of the college community and is intended to promote an atmosphere of trust and fairness in the classroom and in the conduct of daily campus life. The codes and the conduct process for reporting and hearing violations are addressed in greater detail later in this publication.

The purpose of this Handbook is to assist you in understanding your rights, freedoms, and responsibilities as a student. This Handbook is an official publication of the College. As a student, you will be held accountable for its contents. This means that while officially enrolled at the College you are responsible for abiding by its rules which are intended to facilitate and sustain, in an orderly fashion, the on-going business of the College. For its part, the College has committed itself to your holistic development and to the support of those regulations designed to enhance and protect your individual rights.

The College of Charleston has for many years maintained a stated, formal policy prohibiting discrimination or harassment on our campus. This prohibition applies irrespective of race, age, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, veterans’ status, genetic information or disability. Quite simply, we cannot satisfactorily co-exist and meet the mission of the College to provide high-quality education in the face of either discrimination or harassment. Such actions are wholly antithetical to the precepts of higher education and, in particular, the College of Charleston. An integral part of education is the exposure to different views and different cultures. We must not only accommodate this diversity, but, if we are to maximize the educational opportunities presented at this institution, we must embrace this diversity as well. The ability 9 to recognize differences and see linkages between and among these differences lies at the core of a liberal arts education, to which this college is dedicated. We must, therefore, exercise true tolerance and seek an understanding of others, for in an awareness of differing traditions and views, we grow as individuals. Further, we must respect the intrinsic worth of individuality and work together continuously to create and nurture an environment that stimulates intellectual and personal growth.

A second fundamental value inherent in a liberal arts education is that of intellectual freedom and freedom of expression. In educational institutions, this value is firmly entrenched in the doctrine of academic freedom. In our nation, this fundamental value is enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As with other values, however, it is important that we live by these concepts and not simply be satisfied with mere rhetoric. Our institution must always serve as a dynamic marketplace of ideas if we are to maximize our potential both as individuals and as an institution. We must recognize, however, that there will be times when the fundamental values of freedom from discrimination or harassment will intersect with those of freedom of expression. The dilemma for each of us is to reconcile such conflicts in ways that do the least possible damage to either of these fundamental values. It is important for us to remember that freedom of expression in no way assures that every expression has merit. As G.K. Chesterton once noted, ‘To have the right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.’ It is both acceptable and, on occasion, required that we affirm the right to freedom of expression, while at the same time stating our unequivocal disapproval of the contents of that expression.

Ultimately, each of us in this college community must exercise our freedoms in a responsible and careful manner, just as we must analyze what we are hearing in a careful manner and critical way. This institution’s potential is limitless if we engender and maintain an atmosphere of respect for the individual, a tolerance and sensitivity towards different cultures and differing points of view, and a support for the rights of others to freely express their opinions. You are urged to adopt or reaffirm these fundamental values as the cornerstone of the College of Charleston.