The purpose of this guide is to identify and explain legal issues encountered by faculty, staff, and students at Emporia State University. This guide does not address every question that may arise during the academic year, but it attempts to answer common legal questions. This publication from the Office of General Counsel is reviewed and updated periodically. It is organized alphabetically by topic.


Who is covered by Academic Freedom?

Faculty and students.

What is Faculty Academic Freedom?

Members of faculty, whether permanent, temporary, adjunct, and regardless of rank or title, are entitled to full freedom in the classroom to teach their subject, as well as in research and in the publication of the results of their research. However, academic freedom is not unrestricted and is subject to the requirements of law and of both university and Board of Regents policy. For a full description of Faculty Academic Freedom, see the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Faculty Tenure with 1970 Interpretive Comments, developed by the American Association of University Professors (see also,

What is Student Academic Freedom?

Students are entitled to full freedom to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion. In addition, students will be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study. The American Association of University Professors addresses student academic freedom in their 1967 Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students (see also, and

Is Academic Freedom a different issue than First Amendment freedoms?

Both are similar in that they stand for the freedom to teach, to research, and to learn. However, the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment are much broader in their scope and application than academic freedom. First Amendment protects free speech in every aspect of a person’s life as a citizen at-large, whereas Academic Freedom focuses on freedoms related to academic research and teaching.


Does the University provide accommodations for individuals with disabilities?

ESU provides accommodations for individuals in conformity with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Accommodations for students are made once the disability has been verified by the Disability Services office located at 106 Plumb Hall (341-66370). Reasonable accommodations for employees may be facilitated through the Office of Human Resources located at 211 Plumb Hall (341-5379).


What is the scope of the University President’s authority?

The President has full authority over all issues at the University, subject only to the law and to the policies, rules, and regulations of the Kansas Board of Regents. The Board of Regents holds the President responsible and accountable for all operations of the University, including university controlled affiliated corporations (see also, KBOR Policy Manual, Chapter II: Governance – State Universities, C.2.a.(1),(2)).

How are University Policies created or changed?

Any individual, committee, or university organization can make recommendations to the University President for the creation, modification, or revocation of a University Policy. This includes the Faculty Senate and its appointed committees, the Student Senate and its appointed committees, University Support Staff, Unclassified Commission, the administrative boards, administrative councils, academic councils, standing committees, and ad hoc committees. The President is ultimately responsible for all policy decisions (see also, University Policy Manual, 3AC. Campus Governance).

Who has authority to sign contracts and agreements for the University?

The President, the V.P. for Fiscal Affairs and Administration, and the A.V.P. for Fiscal Affairs are authorized to sign contracts on behalf of ESU. For certain types of agreements, other specified officers have limited contract signature authority for a specific area of responsibility.


Why does the University sell textbooks and course materials only through the bookstore in the Memorial Union?

The bookstore is owned and operated by Barnes and Noble. The University has a contractual relationship with Barnes and Noble that states “Emporia State University’s exclusive buyer and seller of all required, recommended or suggested course materials and tools, including books, course packs, computer software, and materials published or distributed electronically, or sold over the Internet” is the bookstore. In addition, the bookstore is the exclusive “on-campus” and Internet seller at retail of other items typically sold in college bookstores, as well as the exclusive agent for the rental and/or sale of graduation caps and gowns and commencement invitations.

Can students buy textbooks and course materials from other sources besides the bookstore?

Yes. However, the University can only offer textbooks and course materials for sale through the bookstore. Any other source for these materials is not an official Emporia State University source.

How does the bookstore set prices for textbooks?

Under the terms of the contract between the University and Barnes and Noble, books that will be used at Emporia State University in an upcoming semester will be bought by the bookstore at the end of the previous semester at a price equal to 50% of the book’s selling price if the book is in good condition, until the Bookstore’s quota for each such book is filled. Books that will not be used again at Emporia State University, or that will be discontinued or replaced by a revised edition will be bought by the Bookstore at the book’s wholesale price. Used books in good condition will be sold in the Bookstore at 24% less than the new selling price for that book.


Can I use other’s copyrighted material in a course I teach at the University?

Under the principles of “Fair Use,” materials copyrighted by others may be used in limited portions for teaching, research, and scholarship. Additional rules apply to the use of electronic copies. University Libraries and Archives assist employees with requesting permission to use copyrighted works (see also, University Policy Manual 3E.06 Use of Copyrighted Material).

If I design and teach a course at the university, do I retain the intellectual property rights to the course content I create?

This question is answered in the following excerpt from the University Policy Manual: “The University has no rights in any intellectual property that is created solely as a result of the employee's own creative and intellectual effort, time, resources, and money. In addition, notwithstanding the use of University resources or the “work for hire” principle, a faculty member retains exclusive intellectual property rights in his or her course material, regardless of the delivery methodology (e.g., via mediated courseware), except that course materials developed pursuant to a specific appointment to create a course to be delivered via mediated courseware shall be the property of the University. For purposes of this policy, an appointment to teach a course during the summer or intersession terms shall not be considered a “special appointment” to which this exception applies. In cases of a specific appointment, when the University expressly directs the creation of a course to be delivered via mediated courseware in an appointment specific to that purpose, and provides materials and time to develop the course and compensates the employee specifically for this purpose, the University shall have the right to revise and decide who will utilize the course materials for the purpose of instruction, and has the right to decide on the sharing of revenue and control, if any” (University Policy Manual 3E.05).


Where can I find the University’s employment policies?

The University Policy Manual (UPM) contains employment policies covering every employee at Emporia State University. The UPM can be found on the Emporia State University web site. A link to the manual is also provided at the end of this document.


I teach a class that is going on a trip; should I obtain consent from the students?

It is generally a good idea to have participants in off-campus activities read and sign a form acknowledging their understanding and assumption of risks. Please contact your Dean’s office if you need more information regarding domestic student trips. The Office of International Education located at 040 Memorial Union (341-5374) maintains guidelines that must be followed for study abroad programs.


What is FERPA?

This federal law (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) states that educational records identifying a student are confidential and cannot be released, shared, or otherwise disclosed to anyone without the student’s written authorization. “Educational records” includes a student’s transcript, exams, assignments, papers, grades, or other records containing information directly relating to the student. Excluded from the definition of “educational records” are: personal notes of faculty and staff; records created after a student is no longer a student and not directly related to the student’s attendance; employment records not directly related to student status; certain medical and counseling records; records maintained for law enforcement purposes; and certain financial records.

When can I share student records?

FERPA does not restrict sharing a student’s educational records between University officials (faculty and staff) when necessary as a part of the official’s job or for a legitimate educational purpose. FERPA does prevent, however, the sharing of a student’s educational information with the student’s parents, spouse, relatives, or friends unless the student first gives their written authorization. If you have a question about the sharing of student information, or whether specific information qualifies as “student information,” please contact the General Counsel’s office (341-5255).


When must Sodexo provide the food for meetings and other functions?

Pursuant to a contractual relationship between the Emporia State University and Sodexo Management, Inc., Sodexo is the exclusive provider of food and non-alcoholic beverages for all University functions or events that occur on the University campus (with very limited exceptions). This includes any meeting or other occasion on campus that will include a meal, as well as snacks or refreshments and/or beverages. Meetings or events held at any location that is not a part of the University campus are not covered by the requirement that Sodexo provide the food and beverages, even if the event is sponsored by a University school, college, department, or other organization.

Am I allowed to bring my own food to campus?

There are no restrictions preventing individuals from bringing their own food and/or beverages to campus for their own consumption. There is also no restriction from holding an event or meeting on campus and inviting participants to bring their own sack lunch or snack for their own consumption during the event.


What is the role of General Counsel?

The General Counsel serves as the primary legal advisor to the University, the President, and University academic and non-academic offices, as well as affiliated entities in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of Emporia State University. In order to fulfill this role, the General Counsel makes it a point to give clear answers, opinions, and advice. Our goal is to minimize legal risk to the University and to resolve the University's legal issues, as well as to assist in finding ways to accomplish those things that are in the best interests of the University. The role of the General Counsel is to represent the University. Therefore, we cannot represent individuals on personal legal matters, and we cannot provide personal legal advice to faculty, staff, or students. However, ASG provides free legal counseling to students with a valid ESU I.D. two afternoons each week.  On these days, an attorney is available for consultation with any student in the Administration office on the second floor of the Memorial Union. The service is free, completely confidential, and no appointments are necessary. For more information, students can contact the Center for Student Involvement (341-5481) located at 150 Memorial Union (see also,

Is the information an employee tells General Counsel confidential?

Unless privilege is waived, information provided for the purpose of obtaining legal advice is privileged as to third parties. However, this information may not be privileged as to other University officials. Privilege determinations are made based on the facts and circumstances of the case.


If a supervisor (or any employee of the University) receives a report of harassment or discrimination, what should they do?

Supervisors and any employee of the University who receives information concerning allegations of harassment or discrimination should immediately contact the Affirmative Action Officer at 341-5379. This is the action to take whether the person making the report is an employee or a student.

What should I do if I believe I am being harassed or discriminated against?

Talk to your supervisor or the Affirmative Action Officer at 341-5379. The Affirmative Action Officer will help with resolving the matter and assist if you want to file a formal complaint.


What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is any physical act which is sexual in nature that is committed by force or without the full and informed consent of all persons involved. Sexual violence includes (but is not limited to) rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual exploitation. Other acts that are covered in University policy dealing with sexual violence are sexual misconduct, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking (see also, University Policy Manual 3D.0106).

What do I do if I believe I am a victim of sexual violence?

First, get any medical attention you need. Then, you can report what happened to you to any member of the University staff or faculty you feel comfortable talking with about what happened to you. Your report will begin an investigation and appropriate services will be provided to you.

What do I do if I receive a report of sexual violence?

You must contact the Title IX Coordinator and share the report. If the victim is an employee, contact Judy Anderson at 341-5379. If the victim is a student, contact Lynn Hobson at 341-5267. If the victim is an athlete, contact Carmen Leeds at 341-5825 (see also, University Policy Manual 3D.0106)


What do I do if I receive a subpoena or summons related to my employment or University business?

Contact the Office of the General Counsel immediately at 341-5255. Court documents should be reviewed by counsel immediately because there are time deadlines for response.

What do I do if I receive a request for records, other than a subpoena?

Contact Kevin Johnson immediately at 341-5255. As the Freedom of Information Officer for the University, he serves as the Kansas Open Records Act Custodian. The University has three business days to respond to open records requests, so be sure to alert the Office of General Counsel of the request as soon as possible.


What does University property include?

All supplies, furnishings, equipment, tools, systems, accounts, vehicles, buildings, land, and everything that is not clearly owned by someone else is University property. However, “University” property is actually owned (or leased) by the State of Kansas. It is all state property.

What rights or interest do I have in the supplies, equipment, systems, and other things I use in my job at the University (especially if I am the only person to use the item)?

No person acquires ownership or any rights in any University (State) property just because that person may be the only person to have possessed and used the property. State property is always state property.

Can I sell or keep for myself textbooks sent to me by publishers, or that I am no longer using?

No. Textbooks and course materials that you did not buy and that were sent or provided to you by a publisher because of your role as faculty are State property.  Even if you ordered or requested the book, as long as you did not buy the book with your own money, you cannot sell or keep for personal use any state property, regardless of its condition or value.

Can I use supplies, copiers, or any University property for my personal use?

University property is owned (or leased) by the State and is made available for your use in your employment or other official position with the University. It is never permissible to use State property for a personal purpose. This includes photocopying, scanning, faxing, and taking home office supplies.

What happens to University property that is no longer being used?

All University property must be disposed of according to guidelines established by the State Surplus Property Program. The method for changing ownership of state property or for disposing of state property is described in the University Policy Manual (see 3N.0201 Transfer or Disposal of Property).