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Positive Environment for Learning and Working Policy


Behaviors and interpersonal interactions in the studio, lab, research and administrative environments remain essential and central to the NC State College of Design culture and maintaining a positive environment for learning and working.

It is expected that the College of Design environment be one of respect, inclusion, and civil discourse supporting academic inquiry, discovery through making, research and engagement, and creative activities.

Background: The Right of Inquiry

Former Dean Emeritus Marvin Malecha developed a document called The Right of Inquiry, which housed 9 central points to the College of Design’s learning and working environment:

  1. The right to individual identity
  2. The right to freedom from prejudice
  3. The right to access information
  4. The right to human supremacy over technology
  5. The right to a nurturing learning environment
  6. The right to choose specific learning paths
  7. The right to determine new learning paths
  8. The right to mature while in pursuit of knowledge and skill
  9. The right to expect a mutually supportive community

Creating a Positive Environment

In translating The Right of Inquiry into the Positive Environment for Learning and Working Policy, the college has identified three main tenets to the policy:

Health, Well-Being and Safety

Community members are encouraged to seek work-life balance by devoting time for work, rest and sleep, healthy eating, and exercise. Resources are available to community members to:

Follow all designated safety rules for specific labs or spaces. Spaces were designed to foster creativity and collaboration, enhance flexibility, and promote informal communication. As such:

  • Use and maintain spaces in a professional manner, respectful of the collaborative space as supporting the needs of multiple individuals;
  • Help maintain secure access to spaces; and 
  • Engage in collaborative creative engagement. Spaces are intended to support spontaneity in the way people bump into each other.
  • For more information, please read the College of Design Safety and Facilities Use Policy.

Interpersonal Engagement

Each individual has the right to learn and work without fear of hostility, character depredation or retribution for personal opinions. Community members must expect and help foster an environment of trust and respect.

  • Trust is afforded by consistently engaging in kind, honest communications including critique delivered in a respectful, professional tone. Regardless of academic/design/performance or standing, students should not feel intimidated or bullied by peers, staff or faculty.
  • An individual must never be diminished in the learning and working environments because of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin. 
  • Join our college culture of inclusion and respect. While we want you to bring your culture with you, it cannot be at the expense of someone else.


The environment should be free of discrimination, harassment, unwelcome engagement, severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive rhetoric and critique such that it does not interfere with a person’s:

  • academic pursuits;
  • participation in College or University-sponsored activities; or
  • their ability to perform their job.

Hindering participation in college or university-sponsored activities effectively denies equal access to the college’s or university’s resources and opportunities. Harassment includes conduct that creates a hostile environment directed toward a particular person, persons or pervades interpersonal spaces. 

In determining whether community members’ conduct fails to meet our expectations for creating a healthy learning and working environment, all relevant facts and circumstances shall be considered. 

Care must be exercised in order to ensure that debate and free speech can prosper while maintaining a safe campus environment for our community members to thrive.

If there is discord or concern, reflect:

  • If the concern stems from a lack of awareness, seek to share perspective.
  • If the concern stems from a miscommunication, seek understanding about a perspective other than your own by talking with the individual, one of your mentors or via cultural competence training. Additional programs are available through the Graduate School.
  • If the concern is a result of unprofessional or inappropriate behavior, seek support from one of your mentors, head of your program/department, college administration or university resources (Office of Student Conduct or Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity).
  • The university established support for students in crisis through the NC State Cares program. You are strongly encouraged to use a form to report behaviors that you feel are concerning or worrisome (no matter how small or insignificant they may seem). This process is NOT designed for emergency response situations.


In addition to college sanctions, College of Design community members failing to meet the college’s expectations will have their concerning behavior reported to the university through the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) or the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) as appropriate.  Sanctions are imposed in order to:

  • Define a community member’s or organization’s status in the College of Design following a finding of responsibility for a violation;
  • Serve as a clear statement about the College of Design’s standards and expectations; 
  • Educate members of the College of Design community (students, faculty, staff and administrators) on the effects of their behavior; and 
  • Attempt to effect a change in that behavior in the future. 

If the situation warrants, the College of Design may impose internal sanctions to support the health, safety and well being  of the community at large.  

Mitigating or aggravating factors or circumstances affecting sanctions shall be considered prior to imposing a sanction. Factors to be considered may include, but are not limited to:

  • the nature of the misconduct,
  • a community member’s demonstration of insight into their conduct,
  • present demeanor and attitude,
  • past disciplinary record of the community member,
  • patterns of behavior, 
  • the importance of equitable treatment for similar offenses,
  • community service or assistance related to the misconduct,
  • the degree of any damage, injury, or harm resulting from the misconduct, and
  • other appropriate circumstances. 

Supporting Information

This policy is supportive of and informed by: 

  • NCSU POL 04.25.05 (Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy)
  • Drug-related misconduct is governed by NCSU POL04.20.05 
  • NCSU REG 11.35.02 – Student Discipline Procedures defines the rights and responsibilities of complainants, respondents and witnesses as well as defining the boundaries for differentiating misconduct that is handled by the university vs. by law enforcement.
  • Misconduct that involves substantial theft or fraud, significant physical, emotional, or mental damage to a person, significant property damage, harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship or interpersonal violence, including dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, or actions that create a substantial risk of bodily harm may result in suspension or expulsion from the University.