Rights and Responsibilities
Knowledge of University Policies
Each student is responsible for knowing Mason’s rules, regulations, requirements, administrative policies and Academic Policies. This catalog is the normal repository of academic policy statements, but corrections, changes, or interpretations can be promulgated by other means, including electronic publication.
When the university or one of its academic units changes course requirements, grading procedures, or criteria for acceptance into particular programs, academic standing, or graduation, the changes apply to all students enrolled at the time of implementation of the change and thereafter.
Students have certain choices regarding the set of degree requirements under which they graduate, as detailed in the Catalog Requirements for Degrees in AP.4 Degree Application, Conferral and Graduation section. PDFs of all previous catalogs may be found online at registrar.gmu.edu/catalog-archives/. Additionally, the Special Collections and Archives section of the Fenwick Library has copies of all previous catalogs. They may not be checked out, but may be photocopied. Any student in doubt about an academic matter should consult a faculty advisor or dean.
Students are subject to the university’s stated policies regarding patents and copyrights. These policies are available at osp.gmu.edu.
Catalog Requirements for Degrees
Catalog year refers to the setting of course and non-course requirements within academic programs as stated in the school and college section of a specific catalog. Catalog year does not set academic policies other than program requirements in place, however. Not all programs and degree components are available in all catalogs. For any one degree, all requirements must be met as stated in a single catalog. The only exception is that Bachelor’s degree students may select a minor from another catalog year for which they are eligible, as noted below.
Bachelor’s degree candidates may choose to graduate under the terms of any catalog in effect during their enrollment in degree status. Students who have been inactive for two or more years or who have attended another institution without prior approval from their academic dean or director must graduate under a catalog in effect at or after their re-admission and during their enrollment in degree status.
Master’s and doctoral degree candidates who have been continuously enrolled may choose to graduate under the terms of any catalog in effect during their enrollment in degree status. Students who have been inactive more than one year, however, may be required by their program to graduate under a catalog in effect after they have been granted permission to re-enroll. In no case may a student choose the requirements of a future catalog year that take effect after the student’s degree is anticipated.
Mason ID Card
After registering, each student should obtain a Mason ID card. It must be presented to use library services and is required for admission to university events and when using facilities after normal operating hours. It is not transferable and is valid as long as the student has active status. GMU Korea students without the university ID Card should contact the GMU Korea Office of Academic and Student Affairs to obtain one.
Official Communication with Students
Mason uses electronic mail to provide official information to students. Examples include notices from the library, notices about academic standing, financial aid information, class materials, assignments, questions, and instructor feedback. Students are responsible for the content of university communication sent to their Mason e-mail account and are required to activate that account and check it regularly. Students are also expected to maintain an active and accurate mailing address in order to receive communications sent through the United States Postal Service.
Change of Status, Address
Each student is required to provide Mason with current contact and identifying information, including permanent and local addresses, telephone numbers, and legal name. Each student must also maintain the university e-mail account assigned at the time of admission. Students are responsible for official communications directed to Mason e-mail accounts. For more information, go to masonlive.gmu.edu.
Addresses should be updated over the Internet using Patriot Web. Name and Social Security number changes require official documentation and must be processed in person at the Office of the University Registrar or with the original copy of a notarized request.
Student Requests for Academic Actions
All requests for academic actions, such as special permissions or exceptions to published academic regulations, must be submitted to Dean of Academic Affairs. Forms and instructions on how to initiate an academic action are available in the the Office of Academic and Student Affairs. Students will be informed of the average wait time for decisions on academic actions undertaken within the university. Those who need assistance with the academic actions process may consult their academic advisor, or they may be directed to the Office of Academic and Student Affairs.
Students have the right to appeal decisions regarding requests for academic actions. All appeals must be in writing, and they must demonstrate that the student has exhausted all options within the academic unit. The burden of proof rests with the student, who must provide clear and convincing documentation to support the contention that the decision was unfair based on the criteria stated above. The University Academic Appeals does not include grade appeals or appeals of Honor Code-related decisions.
Privacy of Student Records
Each year, Mason informs students of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. The university intends to comply fully with this act, which protects the privacy of education records, establishes the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and provides guidelines for amending inaccurate or misleading data through informal and formal hearings. Students also have the right to file complaints with the Family Policy Compliance Office (U.S. Department of Education) concerning alleged failures by Mason to comply with the act.
The Notification of Rights under FERPA and the Public Notice Designating Directory Information detail students’ rights and the procedures implemented by the university to comply with FERPA.
FERPA is a federal law that affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. Specifically, it affords students the right to: (1) inspect and review their education record; (2) request the amendment of inaccurate or misleading records; (3) consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their education record; and (4) file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures of the university to comply with the act. George Mason University strives to fully comply with this law by protecting the privacy of student records and judiciously evaluating requests for release of information from those records. FERPA authorizes the release of “directory information” without the student’s prior consent under certain conditions, which are set forth in the act. George Mason University has defined its “directory information” in accordance with the law. Please visit the Office of the University Registrar website at registrar.gmu.edu for additional information about student privacy and FERPA.
Public Notice Designating Directory Information
George Mason University designates the following as public or “directory information.” Such information may be disclosed by the university without the student’s prior consent under the conditions set forth in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).
Directory Information: Student name, address, telephone numbers(s), e-mail address, date and place of birth, major, dates of attendance, enrollment status (full time, part time), class, previous institutions, major field of study, awards, honors (including Dean’s List), degrees conferred including dates, past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, and physical factors (height and weight of athletes).
Note: Directory information is information that Mason may disclose, but it is not required to do so. It is Mason’s policy to refrain from actively disclosing addresses, telephone numbers, and dates of birth; however, the university routinely verifies this information. Mason does not disclose social security numbers, personal identification numbers, photographs, grades, grade point averages, class schedules, academic actions nor the number of credits enrolled in or earned unless the student has signed a consent form.
Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of directory information under FERPA. To withhold disclosure, students must present a photo ID in person at the Office of Academic and Student Affairs and complete the Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information Form. The form may be submitted at any time throughout the year and will immediately affect prospective disclosures. George Mason University assumes that failure on the part of any student to specifically request the withholding of a category of directory information indicates individual approval for disclosure. Former students may not place a new request for nondisclosure of directory information on their education records; however, they may request its removal.
Confidential (Private) Hold: Prevents the disclosure of all directory information including name, address, telephone number(s), e-mail address, date and place of birth, photographs, major, dates of attendance, enrollment status (full time, part time), class, previous institutions, major field of study, awards, honors (including Dean’s List), degrees conferred (including dates), past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, and physical factors (height and weight of athletes).
Note: Confidential status does not convey a right to be anonymous in the classroom or to impede routine classroom communication and interactions. Students with confidential status should expect to be identified in class by name and to have their Mason email address used for class purposes.
Students who elect this category must conduct all university business either in person with a photo ID card or from a remote location with an original notarized request. Such students’ names will be published in the commencement program unless the students request exclusion in writing. Students in this category are eligible to use interactive web and other electronic systems, such as Patriot Web, for transactions (including registration) which are protected by a secured login.
Student Work, Intellectual Property
University Policies 4002 and 4003 control ownership of copyrightable works and patentable inventions made at Mason. Generally, Mason does not assert ownership of copyrightable works and patentable inventions made by students (who are not also Mason employees) to fulfill the requirements of a particular course. Mason generally owns copyrightable works and patentable inventions made by students who are not employees if they are made in the course of sponsored research or with substantial use of significant university resources. If a student (undergraduate or graduate) is also an employee (such as a research or teaching assistant), Mason generally owns copyrightable works and patentable inventions made as part of that student’s employment responsibilities.
Conduct within the University Community
Students enrolling in the university assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the university’s function as an educational institution. The Code of Virginia (Section 23-9.2:3) confers on the university the responsibility for maintaining order within the university and the right to exclude those who are disruptive.
Students are governed by the Student Code of Conduct.