From Michelle Jones, Manager Safe and Fair Communities
It seems logical that both staff and students at Charles Sturt wants to live, work and study in a safe environment. For this to occur we need consistent, clear information about behavioural expectations.
For students this can be found in the Student Charter:
“The purpose of the Student Charter is to help students understand what it means to be a student member of the Charles Sturt University community, including the expectations students and the University may have of each other. The Student Charter aims to encourage active partnership between the University and its students in learning and teaching, professional practice, research, and the life of the University community.”
The Charter also sets out what students can expect of staff, this ranges from being provided equality of opportunity, an environment that is inclusive and safe and staff to interact with students with honesty and integrity.
Not all students or staff are respectful in their interactions with the university, academic or professional staff , but respectful requests to review marks or revisit decisions for example, should always be responded to with the same courtesy.
What is inappropriate?
- Impolite emails that may include swearing or threats of reporting the staff member to the university or an external agency.
- Unacceptable posts on forums, including racist remarks.
- Disruptive behaviours in person, the office, classroom or online
- Disrespectful interactions with other students or staff i.e. content being taught in a discourteous way.
Often it is best to approach this directly with the student or staff member, informally managing the issue, giving information about what is acceptable professional communication in the university environment. This informal approach for students would be recommended for:
- Students who are new to the university environment.
- Students that have not had any previous misconduct.
- Low level concerns
Your response could be to reach out to the student and talk to them (if you feel comfortable) or write to the student (there are templates available).
Here is great example of an academic addressing a post they had to remove because it was offensive to others in the class:
“At Charles Sturt University we strive to create a working environment that is fair, inclusive, and free from all forms of prejudice and discrimination. We embrace diversity and equality by promoting social inclusion and equal opportunity for all. While I appreciate freedom of speech, a response to the above post has been removed.”
If you want to reach out to a student, ensure that you:
- are clear about your point and why their behaviour is not acceptable
- express your feelings sincerely and with care, using inclusive language
- are prepared to listen to their point of view.
- have potentially formulated a solution, such as advising on the correct way to put forward your view on a forum.
These points should also be considered when responding to a colleague. Communications between staff is equally as important in building a positive culture across the University.
Respectful communication is key in developing relationships and building a positive environment, be it in the workplace or broader community. Each of us share this responsibility and are dependent on one another to participate, to foster a respectful and inclusive university community. As the saying goes, “treat others the way you would like to be treated.”
If reaching out to the student or staff member is not successful or the behaviour continues you may need to escalate to a formal resolution, using the university’s misconduct process for students and Code of Conduct for staff.
Online allegation form:
Resources for managing disrespectful communication or poor behaviour:
- Contact the university Ombudsman for advice – COMPLAINTS MANAGEMENT PROCEDURE – UNREASONABLE COMPLAINANT CONDUCT
- Contact the Manager Safe & Fair Communities for advice – FITNESS FOR STUDY PROCEDURE