Student Matters

Academic Bankruptcy

The University policy on academic bankruptcy, including information on how to apply, is provided in the UA catalog. For students in the College of Arts and Sciences, the application letter must be submitted to the Assistant Dean and Director of Student Affairs (second floor Clark Hall).

The decision is reached by the Assistant Dean and Director of Student Affairs and then communicated to the student and the University’s Registrar’s Office. A successful application results in the entire semester’s grades being changed to a Withdrawal (W), which positively affects the student’s GPA.

Academic Grievances (Students)

In cases in which they believe they have not been dealt with fairly and professionally, students may file an academic grievance (based on grading issues or non-grading issues, i.e., harassment or discrimination) in the department in which a course is taught.

Detailed in the Faculty Handbook (Appendix D), the process must be followed strictly. It begins with a student submitting a written grievance to the chair after attempting to resolve the grievance with the instructor directly. In many cases a constructive resolution can be attained by the timely intervention of the chair.

Academic Honor Pledge

The Academic Honor Pledge, which governs student behavior on campus, reads:

“I promise or affirm that I will not at any time be involved with cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or misrepresentation while enrolled as a student at The University of Alabama. I have read the Academic Honor Code, which explains disciplinary procedures that will result from the aforementioned. I understand that violation of this code will result in penalties as severe as indefinite suspension from the University.”

This code is published in the UA Undergraduate Catalog’s section on academic misconduct.

Complaints by an instructor against students who have not maintained this pledge can lead to an accusation of academic misconduct.

Academic Misconduct (Students)

Information about UA policies on academic misconduct is provided in

The process described in the Faculty Handbook (Appendix C) must be strictly followed. At no point should an instructor accuse a student of misconduct or identify the student to the chair; if the evidence submitted to the Dean’s Office includes an assignment that is due to be returned to the student in the near future, instructors are advised simply to inform the student, privately, that their assignment is not being returned and that they will soon be contacted by the Dean’s Office or to contact the Dean’s Office to schedule a meeting.

Appeals procedures (for both the student and the instructor) are included in the process.

Packet Submission Guidelines

In accordance with University policy, all allegations of academic misconduct should be reported immediately upon discovery, strictly following the academic misconduct packet guidelines. The completed packet should be hand-delivered to: 105 Clark Hall or sent via campus mail to Box 870268, to the attention of the divisional associate dean.

Academic Second Opportunity

Academic second opportunity can be awarded by the Assistant Dean and Director of Student Affairs (second floor Clark Hall). It is intended for students who have been away from the University of Alabama (but perhaps not higher education as a whole) for at least three academic years (i.e., the program is for returning students).


The A&S Student Services Center takes a central role in the advising of first-year students in Arts and Sciences.

DegreeWorks is the online advising tool that assists advisors in viewing a student’s academic record and judging their progress through the degree’s requirements. DegreeWorks can be accessed through myBama.

The chair must coordinate all advising activities, deciding whether to appoint one or more faculty to carry out his/her role, distributing it to all faculty members, or leaving the coordination to an undergraduate director whom the chair appoints. (Such appointments should be reflected in the faculty member’s FTE.)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

In keeping with its mission and in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws, The University of Alabama is committed to providing persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from all programs and services offered by the University.

The University provides what the law defines as “reasonable accommodations” for program accessibility for qualified students and employment for qualified persons with disabilities as defined in applicable laws and regulations. Reasonable accommodations are made on an individualized basis.

It is the responsibility of persons with disabilities to seek available assistance and make their needs known. The University has designated the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as the campus coordinating office for the provision and delivery of services and reasonable accommodations that ensure the University’s programs, services, and activities are accessible to students with disabilities.

While instructors deal directly with students who have registered with the ODS, inasmuch as the student provides the instructor with ODS paperwork that confidentially communicates the student’s needs, chairs may handle ADA issues such as addressing students who lodge complaints concerning an instructor’s noncompliance, identifying and reporting to ODS accessibility issues in the department’s building, or, possibly, addressing faculty and staff who register a documented disability. Your divisional associate dean and/or the Office of Human Resources can be of assistance in the last case.

Providing Note-Taking Accommodations to Students with Disabilities

Once a student provides you with the confidential request for accommodations produced by ODS, you are legally required to recruit a note taker for that student. You will also need to create a UA+ Box account so that note takers can upload notes for students with disabilities to retrieve.

Read the Provision of Notes to Students with Disabilities memo or visit the Office of Disability Service’s website.

Counseling Center

The UA Counseling Center can be an important resource to chairs when they are addressing student emotional and behavioral issues that are reported to them by faculty. Among the services provided are individual, couple, and group counseling and therapy, and substance abuse counseling. The center also assists in crisis-intervention services by providing an on-call counselor and participating on the Crisis Intervention Committee. Chairs are advised to document when they contact the Counseling Center concerning worrisome student behavior.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy and confidentiality of personal information contained within student education records. All faculty and staff must be aware of FERPA’s policies and avoid disclosing student records without permission from the student. This includes grades and other information regarding a student’s performance in classes, and applies to all individuals seeking information including close relatives.

More information on FERPA is available from the US government, or you can consult the University’s statement on privacy.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy ACT (FERPA) Waiver

In an effort to improve retention over the last several years, incoming first-year students and transfer students are invited, during their orientation, to sign a document that waives their rights to some protections under FERPA. This frees instructors to discuss their performance as a student (i.e., their academic performance) with the student’s parents or guardians.

Before discussing a student’s performance with anyone, however, instructors must confirm that the student has signed the waiver. Chairs should therefore develop a process within their unit for making this confirmation. It can be done by your staff member trained on Banner:

Go to the SGASADD screen and enter the student’s CWID

Click the “Next Block” key to register the Student Attributes on the lower screen.

Under Attribute Code and Description nothing will appear if the student has not filed this waiver. However, DD4 will appear as the Attribute Code and “1-year release” or “4-year release” will appear as the description if it has been signed and filed.

Graduate Assistants (GA)

The University has several types of graduate assistantships to which graduate students can be appointed (they are brought onto payroll, at the start of each academic year in which they are employed, by means of a PA, much like faculty and staff); each type of GA appointment comes with its own conditions.

The FTE system also applies to GAs; e.g., a 0.5 GA constitutes 20 hours a week of GA work and a 0.25 GA works 10 hours a week (the remaining time is considered devoted to their own research and studies). More information about GAs, including appointment types, codes, etc., can be found on the Graduate School website.

An orientation is offered each year for new Graduate Teaching Assistants. To learn more, visit the Graduate Student Services website.

See eChairs Resources for a template of a Graduate Teaching Assistant letter.

Graduate Council Fellowships

Departments can nominate incoming or recently admitted graduate students to the Graduate School for annual, non-renewable Graduate Council Fellowships; the award includes full tuition scholarships, stipends, and single coverage health insurance. A 0.5 Graduate Assistantship can then also be given to a student by a department even if he or she is awarded a Graduate Council Fellowship. No service to the University is required by this award.

There are two types of Fellowships: the Regular Graduate Council Fellowship (for recent or incoming graduate students enrolled full-time) and a Research and Creative Activity Fellowship (itself containing four sub-categories, all sharing the criterion of a current graduate student working on his or her own research/thesis/dissertation or working with a faculty member on his or her research). A student who held one of these in the past can be nominated for the other in the future.

There are limits on the number of students that a unit can nominate for these awards. The award may also come with a financial supplement.

More information can be found on the website. Notices advertising the deadlines for each application round are publicized annually by the Graduate School.

College-level Awards

The College offers the Dean’s Graduate Recruiting and Opportunity (GRO) awards intended as a recruitment incentive to help attract outstanding new students to our graduate programs. All graduate programs in A&S are eligible to apply, and departments select and submit their nominees according to the instructions given when the call is made.

There is a yearly competition for Outstanding Graduate Student Awards in specified categories. Firstly, departments make an internal selection according to the given categories and decide their department-level winners. Secondly, departments submit their winners to compete at the College level. College-level winners receive monetary awards and are thirdly submitted to the Graduate School for another UA-level competition. Instructions are communicated at the time of the call.

The College also offers support to graduate students for conferences or research travels. The combined support that each student receives from the department and the college is matched by the Graduate School up to a certain cap depending on whether their travel is domestic or international. There is a call every semester for departments to submit their travel requests.

Graduate School Travel and Research Grants

The Graduate School annually offers funding for graduate student research and travel; each academic year, departments must nominate students for this award. Departments can nominate as many students as they wish as long as the department is willing to match Graduate School funding.

The Graduate School issues calls for nominations throughout the year (often once during the fall, spring, and summer semesters). Nominations must include a budget, information on the cost-sharing details, and whether the student is presenting his or her own original research (i.e., if conference travel is the motivation for the nomination).

Honors Day/Week

Each December, the Student Services Center will contact departments and ask that they submit Honors Week information on the undergraduate students and the graduate students who will be awarded department prizes at the annual Honors Convocation in early April (including the names and addresses of their families). Graduate students are honored on Monday of what is characterized as Honors Week. The Dean’s Award of Merit selected at the discretion of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences as well as other prestigious awards selected by the College are honored at donor appreciation/stewardship event.

Because of the number of departments recognizing student accomplishments at the Graduate ceremony, Arts and Sciences has established rules to ensure that the Convocation runs efficiently:

  1. Do not talk about the honoree unless he or she is present. Arts and Sciences will invite the students that the units intend to honor, but units need to check and make sure that they are coming (some units send out their own invitations to students and their families).
  2. Departments can recognize no more than three students at the Graduate convocation. Units offering more than three awards may consider holding their own ceremony and using the College’s convocation as the occasion to highlight three of their award winners. When approaching the podium to present your department’s awards, please ask the student awardees to join you on the stage. If you notice that one of your student awardees is not present, you should avoid recognizing the student with an exhaustive narrative.
  3. Chairs or their representatives are asked to speak briefly but meaningfully about the student they are recognizing. These comments should be limited to 150 words or fewer per awardee.
  4. If your department is hosting events related to Honors Week (such as public lectures, receptions, or departmental honors ceremonies), notify Student Services of these so that they can include them in the booklet produced by the College each year. Your department should notify Student Services of any special celebrations by January 31st to ensure that this information is included in the Honors Day booklet.

Learning Communities

The College is home to a variety of learning communities, such as those in which residential life is integrated with academic interests. The currently active living-learning communities include the Blount Scholars Program; Parker-Adams Program; and McCollough Institute for Pre-Medical Scholars. These programs have A&S faculty associated with them, serving as mentors and a resource for students.

These activities have proved to be successful recruitment and retention activities and are strongly encouraged and assisted by the Dean’s Office. Chairs are encouraged to have their unit’s develop ways to support these efforts.

Faculty, with the support and permission of their chair, are encouraged to suggest new learning communities program ideas to the Arts and Sciences Student Services Center — programs in which faculty would take a leadership role and which would be considered a valuable service to the College.

Social Media and Graduate Assistants

The Dean’s Office recommends that you include the following statement in materials that you provide for your graduate assistants:

Online journal-type websites and communities (e.g., Facebook and MySpace) are public venues that the entire world can access. It is important that you educate yourself about safe participation on these sites. Please be aware that if you are identified online in any way as a GA/GTA/GRA of the College of Arts and Sciences, you will be held responsible for any pictures and/or text that you post or that others might post involving you that might demonstrate violations by you of the rules and regulations of the University of Alabama Student Code of Conduct or of policies/procedures of the College of Arts and Sciences or the Graduate School.

Communications or pictures that could be deemed to violate the University’s harassment policy or are otherwise inappropriate for the workplace should not appear on Facebook if you are teaching and your students are invited to visit your website. We in no way want to restrict your free-speech rights. We do, however, want you to understand that when information about you is posted on these sites the information is not private and can be disclosed to anyone, including your students, who could use that information to support complaints they may file against you. This information can also be used by University officials for employee disciplinary purposes and to support student sanctions for violations of codes of conduct.

Student Athletes

At the start of a semester, students engaged in collegiate athletics will submit paperwork to his or her instructor, documenting their team involvement and detailing any class absences that may be required of them during the semester (due, for example, to team travel). Otherwise, daily attendance is mandatory for student athletes. Instructors are requested to work with such students to identify ways for them to address these absences. In addition, the Athletics Department may send paperwork to instructors, or contact them by telephone, to check on a student athlete’s performance in class.

Learn more about the academic support services offered for student athletes or read the most recent version of the Student-Athlete Handbook by visiting the Center for Athletic Student Services website.

Student Athlete Textbook Policy (NCAA Regulations)

Chairs must communicate to their faculty members that, according to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCA) regulations, student athletes cannot use their athletics scholarship/book vouchers for recommended textbooks, only for required textbooks. This means that faculty should be aware that changing a book’s status in their syllabus may jeopardize a student athlete’s standing with the NCAA if they have already purchased what had been required but what is now only recommended. Chairs should therefore advise faculty not to change the status of books ordered for their classes.

Transfer Credits

Information on transfer credit is available to students and faculty at the STARS website. More information about transfer credits and a link to the STARS website is available at the UA Registrar’s website.

Departments may, on rare occasions, petition for exception to the agreement, but such exceptions must be approved by the College and the University provost for inclusion in a student’s record.

Chairs or undergraduate directors can expect periodic phone calls from Arts and Sciences Student Services Center, seeing input from the academic department, when incoming transfer students have courses on their transcript that do not fall into the state’s transfer agreement. Such input will determine whether a student receives credit for prior course work and, if so, what University of Alabama course number should be applied.

Undergraduate Creativity and Research Academy

The Undergraduate Creativity and Research Academy aims to (1) provide support for integrative research and creative activities by undergraduate students and their faculty mentors and (2) to highlight the outstanding contributions resulting from such activities. Funding is open to all full-time undergraduate students who have declared majors within the College of Arts & Sciences. Applicants must be supported by a faculty member who agrees to serve as the project advisor.

Work-Study Students

Work-study students can be engaged to help a department with basic office work. Work-study students are paid with federal financial aid. To begin the process of obtaining a work-study student, the department should call the Office of Financial Aid (348-6756) to obtain a form to announce the department’s position.

The unit’s opening for a work-study student is posted for eligible students to see and those interested in the position apply directly to the department.

Because there is no guarantee that students will apply to a unit’s opening, there is no guarantee that the unit will have a work-study student assigned to it. Chairs whose units have need of student workers may therefore consider whether to use department funds to hire student workers (at minimum wage or higher).