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Stephen F. Austin State University

Graduate Student Handbook

Tuition, Residency, and Housing

As an entering graduate student, you must make certain all required financial and academic paper work is completed as soon as possible. Tuition, fees and deposits are due and payable prior to the time of registration. Students receive bills or invoices for tuition, fees, etc. several weeks in advance of each semester. All Business and Financial Aid Office correspondence is through email.

Veteran Certification

Veterans who are eligible for educational benefits under Section 54.203, Texas Education Code or under Chapters 32, 34 and 35, Title 38, U. S. Code may obtain general information about such benefits and may apply for such assistance through their nearest Veterans Administration Office. The graduate student who has made such application and is eligible for veteran's benefits should contact the Registrar's Office for assistance with certification of enrollment for educational benefits. Referrals are also made to the Veteran's Administration Regional Office in Waco, Texas.

Residency

By state law, any student who has not resided in Texas for the 12 months preceding university registration is classified as a non-resident. Rules and regulations regarding resident classification status that affect tuition rates and fees are available in the Office of Admissions. Teaching or research assistantships, competitive scholarships, death, divorce, child custody, or active military service may affect or change residency status. Thus, entering students, especially international students, need to understand or seek a clarification of their status immediately through the Office of Admissions. Moreover, students should remain aware that their residency situation may change during their time at the university which may entitle them to a different tuition and fee schedule.

Housing

The Housing Department offers both residence halls and apartments. Graduate students must enroll for nine hours during the fall and spring semesters to be eligible for on-campus housing. Meal plans are available for students living on and off campus. For the latest on housing costs, availability, and application information, contact the Housing Department. Students choosing to live off campus may contact the Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce.

Parking

All vehicles used on campus by faculty, staff and students must be registered with the University Police Department and display official registration permits. Application forms for parking permits are available as are all regulations and policies governing violations and fines. Parking without a proper permit or a visitor's pass may result in fine, wheel lock or impoundment. A student who receives a parking ticket may appeal to the Student Traffic Appeals Board within seven working days of the citation. Appeal application forms are available through the University Police Department.

Graduate Students in the Academic Community

As a graduate student, it is important you recognize and prepare for the new academic milieu you are entering. Effective communication, professional cooperation, and efficient time management are vital components of success. Below are some specific suggestions that will ease your transition into graduate school:

Shared Authority: Faculty and Graduate Students

As an apprentice and colleague who is preparing for his or her role as a professional, questions about divisions of responsibility may arise. In particular, students who become teaching assistants or laboratory supervisors may work closely with faculty and undergraduates. At all times, a cooperative and collegial relationship between you and your faculty is imperative for the goals and the missions of the university to be fulfilled.

At times you may feel you are caught in the middle. Realistically, however, you may find yourself in a situation where a faculty member, a departmental head, a supervisor or a fellow student is not as understanding, supportive or clear about details as you would prefer. As in any strong relationship, effort, determination, courtesy, and communication will enable you to work well with others. If there is a problem, set aside time to resolve the matter. Never substitute talking or complaining to other graduate students for a sincere and frank discussion with the faculty or student concerned. Unfortunately, on occasion, you may hear of a potentially serious problem, explicit or perceived racial or sexual bias or a threat of physical danger, for example, in which you may have a responsibility to act quickly. Talking immediately to the departmental or division head in a balanced way, avoiding personalities and honoring confidences is necessary, and may prevent more serious difficulties. There is, of course, a defined hierarchy within the academic community. Understanding its existence and utilizing it effectively in a dignified manner to resolve problems and disputes will maintain a healthy and stimulating academic climate. Moreover, such an approach will rightly earn you the respect of peers and signal an emotional maturity that is admirable.

Graduate Representation

Graduate students are an integral part of the higher education system throughout the United States, and there are many ways in which graduate students are represented and participate in the life of the university.

Graduate Council

The Graduate Council is composed of 10 elected and appointed graduate faculty members, providing each college with at least one faculty representative on the council and includes one graduate student as an active member representing a constituency of the graduate student body. Additionally, there are three appointed ex officio members, including the registrar, and the director of the Ralph W. Steen Library. The council constitutes the primary advisory body for graduate education at the university and makes recommendations on all aspects of graduate education throughout the university. These faculty members represent not only their individual departments and colleges but also serve as important contacts and sources of information for both faculty and graduate students. Members of the council serve a three-year term. Also see the council roster and meeting minutes under Information for Faculty.

University Committees

Other university committees include graduate student representation at the departmental and college level. The chair of each department, as a chief administrative officer, is responsible for the overall supervision of teaching assistants as well as for the well being of the entire graduate program within the department.

Graduate Advisors

In larger departments, chairs commonly delegate some of these duties to one or more faculty members. Graduate advisors generally have primary contact with graduate students. Such advisors assist with graduate registration, course changes, help structure degree plans and maintain records of graduate progress. In addition, a faculty advisor frequently serves as a mentor and advisor and often represents graduate student interests and concerns to the chair or to departmental and college committees. Although a student reaching the stage of admission to candidacy for a graduate degree will have a committee constituted to supervise the process of thesis or dissertation or examination work for final completion of a degree, the original graduate advisor can be a tremendous source of strength for a student. Thus, a student should be aware that a graduate advisor often plays a key role not only in program development but also in career and professional advancement.

Student Conduct

Upon entering a graduate program, you accept an ethical and moral code that is demanding and integral to your future societal role as leaders. It is important that you understand and maintain standards of intellectual honor that reflect well upon your own conduct and upon your profession. Cheating and plagiarism, indeed any type of dishonorable conduct is morally degrading and ethically reprehensible. Moreover, such conduct seriously impedes true intellectual growth. In setting your goals and reviewing your conduct, there is a simple, clear standard: The sensible rule of thumb as always is to treat others and to deal with the property of others as carefully, thoughtfully, and considerately as you would want to be treated.

Cheating

Dishonesty of any kind involving examinations, assignments, alteration of records, wrongful possession of examinations, unpermitted submission of duplicate papers for multiple classes or unauthorized use of keys to examinations is considered cheating.

Plagiarism

Materials, even ideas, borrowed from others necessitate full and complete acknowledgment. Offering the work of another as one's own is plagiarism and is unacceptable in the academic community. A lack of adequate recognition constitutes plagiarism, whether it utilizes a few sentences, whole paragraphs, articles, books, audio-visual materials or, indeed, even the writing of fellow students. In addition, the presentation of material gathered, assembled or formatted by others as one's own is also plagiarism. Because the university takes such misconduct very seriously, the student is urged to carefully read university policies on Academic Integrity and Misconduct in Research.

University Property

For most graduate students, their department and college will be an elemental focus of their life for several semesters, even years, as they complete their professional training. In a sense, the campus becomes a home away from home and understandably familiarity may breed carelessness regarding the use of state property, such as telephones, photocopiers, facsimile machines, mail services and university records or files. It is illegal to remove equipment from the campus for use at home or in the field without proper approval. Wrongful use of such materials can incur legal liabilities.

Research Subjects

In your professional training, you may on occasion be involved in projects using human subjects, laboratory animals or hazardous materials. Sensitivity, compassion and the highest professional standards are imperative ethical requirements in dealing with all living creatures. All research involving humans, laboratory animals, or hazardous material is regulated by the university and subject to state and federal regulations. The committees most actively involved in these areas are: the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Institutional Biosafety Committee and Environmental Safety and Health/Radiation Committee.

Sexual Harassment

Graduate students, male and female, need to know and be sensitive to issues of sexual misconduct. Click here for the university's policy on Sexual Harassment.

Minority Students

Graduate and undergraduate education at SFA encompasses many cultures. Your educational experience affords a wonderful opportunity to know faculty, staff and fellow students as individuals and an opportunity to treat them fairly and free of conscious bias or unconscious assumptions. The university has a strong, continuing commitment to ethnic and cultural diversity in every aspect of university life and encourages the full participation of minority students, students with disabilities and international students in all disciplines and programs.

Students from non-traditional groups may need extra consideration, encouragement and friendship. Your experience at SFA will be enriched by meeting and exchanging views with a wide range of individuals and cultures. Do not, for example, make the mistake of expecting African-American, Native American, Hispanic or International students to always represent a "minority" perspective or to comment exclusively on minority issues.

There is no such collective thing as the African-American, Latino or Asian-American viewpoint on most issues. Sensitivity to the individual will enrich your time at the university and enrich the intellectual community of educated men and women.

Students with Physical Disabilities

In a broad sense, any impairment of one or several of life's major physical activities, such as seeing, hearing, walking, etc., constitutes a physical disability. The severity of such conditions may vary greatly, but all students with physical disabilities have equal access to the educational and extracurricular programs of the university by right and by law. SFA does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission to, access to, or operations of its programs, services, or activities, or in its hiring or employment practices. This notice is provided as required by Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and is available in large print, on audiotape and in Braille.

SFA is a leader in the state of Texas in providing outstanding access to higher education for students with disabilities. The university takes great pride in this achievement. More than 85 percent barrier free, the university gives students with physical disabilities access to university facilities through handicapped parking, curb cuts, ramps, wide doors, Braille signs, and lowered elevator buttons and telephones. The university works closely with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

Reasonable accommodations to students with physical disabilities include but are not limited to: allowing the taping and transcribing of lectures and classes; providing barrier-free meeting places for classes; allowing readers for blind students and signers for the deaf. A Braille machine, transcribers, and voice capable computers are available through the Steen Library and the Computer Center. In addition, some personal computers have been modified for use by students with disabilities and are linked to the mainframe.

To request Information or submit inquiries or complaints, contact the:

Chuck Lopez, Office of Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Coordinator
Disability Services
P.O. Box 6130, SFA Station
Nacogdoches, Texas, 75962-6130
Phone: 936.468.3004-Voice/TDD
Fax: 936.468.1368

Individuals needing auxiliary aids are invited to make their needs and preferences known to the ADA compliance coordinator. Upon admission, if you are a graduate student with a disability, plan to contact the director of disability services for needed assistance to make the transition to the campus and community as convenient and pleasant as possible.