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Free speech part of students' rights

Free speech, grade grievance, and safety makes list of students' rights.

By Opinions Editor Kenya Harris

Open free speech space located by the roundabout in front of Valley. Photo taken Wednesday, November 29, 2023.

(Violett De Jean & Beyonce Henry | Valley Star)

Valley College students not only enjoy the right to four free speech areas on campus but there are a number of other rights they should know about.

The right to receive accommodations, the right to dispute grades, and the right to security are some of the rights students are entitled to. Yet many monarchs are unaware of the full advantages and protections they can take in the pursuit of their education.

“I don’t really know my rights,” psychology major Ruby Arcos said. “I never looked into it.”

Since 1992, colleges and universities have been prohibited from disciplining students for using their protected right to freedom of speech. There are four free speech areas: one near the Student Union plaza, one near LARC, one near the Student Services plaza, and one just outside Monarch Hall. The four areas are clearly marked on campus maps. Major social and political activism has been launched from the free-speech areas of universities across the board.

“I feel like everyone in the United States deserves to have freedom of speech,” said political science major Roni Dino. “Even if they are citizens, residents, or undocumented. It’s important for me, especially being a political science major, to get a sense of what everyone is entitled to think and to have an understanding of what people want from each other as a community.”

ASU members Melina Valle Herrera and Sofia Orellana hosted a recent event to inform students on how to file grievances, one of the many rights that students have.

“I don't really know a lot, but I know my right is to get the accommodations I need in order to get the extra help,” said psychology major Elizabeth Barrera.

Barrera is correct in mentioning her right to accommodations. According to ADA law, students with varying disabilities have the right to request accommodations that will further their academic success. Accommodations can range from note-taking services to alternative textbooks for visually- impaired students, just to name a few.

Another crucial student right is the right to protest an unfairly given grade. If meeting with the professor does not resolve the issue, the student can begin the grievance process.

“Grade grievances refers to the right all students have here at Valley to ask for a grade change if they deem the grade unfair or invalid,” said ASU Commissioner of Political Affairs Sofia Orellana. “It is a long process as it is treated as a case that goes to ‘court’ and then there's a verdict.”

A student filing a grade grievance has the right to an ombudsman as a mediator. The ombudsman will guide the student, relay information and explain the grievance process. The ombudsperson for Valley College is available at

“The most common situation would be grade grievances,” said Ombudsman Cecelia Cruz. “For example, if a student receives a lower grade than they believe they deserve. Please look up Administrative Procedure -5530-Student-Grievance-Policy for details.”

This information is publicly available on the website under the section Student Grievances.

“I feel like it definitely is a right to dispute because you’re paying for something,” said econ major David Figuroa.“You need to give more of a crap about it.”

Valley students also have the right to safety. The right to safety is protected by the Campus Sheriff’s office as well as students when they report a crime. The crime blotter is publicly available for students to see what incidents of crime occurred on Valley’s campus. There are privacy laws that state who must report crimes in a way that protects the victim’s privacy. The sheriff’s office also has a public phone number that can be used to call and report any crime. (818) 947-2911.

“There is someone out there who will help you in any way that they can,” said Sofia Orellana “There are always resources here on campus. Faculty, staff, and student leaders are always here to help.”

1 Comment

It is important that students understand their rights and privileges in the educational environment.

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