Legal and Ethical Issues

Legal issues involved in academic advising generally fall under four categories (D. Parker Young, "Legal Issues Regarding Academic Advising," NACADA Journal, November 1982):

  • The contractual relationship between students and the institution;
  • Guidelines governing privacy of student records;
  • The concept of privileged communications;
  • Academic due process and the need for grievance procedures.

Through its publications, most notably the catalogs and departmental materials, the university establishes contractual obligations between the institution and students. While advisors are expected to keep current on changes in policy and programs, responsibility for knowing requirements ultimately rests with students; advisors will not be held personally liable for negligent, irresponsible, or capricious behavior of students. By keeping complete and accurate notes of advising sessions, advisors can forestall future disputes as well as protect themselves against claims of erroneous advising.

It is good policy to recognize the limitations of an advisor's role. Knowing when and where to refer students who present questions or problems that extend beyond the scope of advising or beyond the individual advisor's knowledge can help avoid charges of inappropriate or inaccurate advising and the possible consequences of such allegations. Advisors who are confronted with student grievances concerning academic affairs should be familiar with the DSU's University Catalog and inform students of appropriate administrative remedies.

Last Updated: 7/31/12