Syllabus statements are an important way for faculty to accomplish several beneficial goals at the outset of each course: Reduce the number of predictable questions from students, help establish students' expectations about the course at the start, reduce students’ uncertainty (and increase their comfort level) about you and the course, generate more positive perceptions about who you are and how you will conduct the class, and convey your commitment to supporting them as individuals. These pages offer information about several categories of recommended syllabus statements, each offering examples, and downloads of language that can be copied or revised for individual faculty use in course syllabi.
To use these resources:
- Review the various categories below. Each is linked to a page that provides a rationale and offers model language.
- Download the Syllabus Statement resource pages and select the model language you prefer.
- Insert your selected language into your syllabi. The model language for each can be used as-is (copied and pasted). Faculty can also modify the language as desired to reflect your authentic voice and perspectives.
- When you conduct your syllabus overview on Day 1, as Academic Senate resolution requires, call attention to the statements to highlight their importance. This can help set the tone for a positive class culture by conveying your commitment to their integrity, a culture of inclusion, and their success as individuals.
COVID-19 Syllabus Statement
This multi-part statement provides detailed guidance to students about their responsibilities when on campus and while interacting with instructors and classmates. We encourage you to consider incorporating some or all of this statement in your syllabi.
Accumulated research supports the importance of instructors conveying early, firmly, and often how important maintaining academic integrity is for students, for the instructor, and for the university – otherwise, they may assume, “Everyone does it, so if I cheat, it's just to keep it fair.”
Academic Support for Students
The Writing and Learning Center supports academic achievement by offering free peer-to-peer tutoring for over 250 courses and subjects across all six colleges. A syllabus statement with information about how to access learning support services can help communicate to students that seeking academic support is a positive behavior that can assist them in achieving academic success.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention
Many students are impacted by alcohol and drug use. Some students are experimenting as they begin college, while others may have a substance use disorder or be in recovery. Campus Health and Wellbeing strives to promote lasting wellness and support all students in making safer decisions with their drug and alcohol use. A syllabus statement with helpful resources can make a difference and provide students with the help and support they need.
Basic Needs Support
This may surprise you: According to California State University (CSU) data, 27% of Cal Poly students experience food insecurity, and another 12% experience homelessness. These problems affect hundreds, even thousands, of students, and the consequences can impact their physical and mental health and academic performance. A syllabus statement indicates that you acknowledge the reality that may affect some of your students, which can help to destigmatize it enough that they might be willing to reach out for the help they deserve.
Disability Support Resources
Cal Poly provides substantial support for students with various disabilities that can hinder equitable access to their education. A syllabus statement about these resources is essential for students working with the Disabilities Resource Center (especially those who have declined the disability designation) to know that you support them and their rights to DRC's assistance and services.
Inclusion and Classroom Climate
Cal Poly is improving the campus culture of inclusion, but more progress is needed. Developing a statement for your syllabus is an effective way to clarify, concretize, and share your values regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion in your discipline and classroom. Syllabus statements on inclusion can signal to students how the instructor commits to creating the class culture and to conduct the course in inclusive ways.
Pronouns and Preferred Names
Consistently using personal pronouns and preferred names contributes to creating a more inclusive campus culture. At Cal Poly, everyone has the right to be addressed by the name and personal pronouns that correspond to their gender identity. Include a syllabus statement that lets students know how you will ensure that you use their pronouns and preferred names when referring to them.
Safer is Cal Poly’s primary confidential resource for addressing sexual assault, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, and harassment.
Located within Campus Health and Wellbeing, Safer offers holistic services to the entire campus community regarding gender- & power-based violence. Safer has statements on confidentiality and mandated reporting, content warnings, and a list of resources that can be shared with students. Please visit Safer's website using the link below to see sample syllabus statements.
Students with Dependents
The Students with Dependents program supports parenting, pregnant, and caregiving students on campus. This program is housed within the Office of the Dean of Students. In California, a little over 20% of students are Student Parents, a population that is often overlooked when considering the needs and success of college students. The Students with Dependents program works to provide resources, advocacy, and build community for parenting, pregnant, and caregiving students at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Wellbeing/Mental Health Support
It has never been more important for educators to incorporate wellbeing support language into their interactions with students. That was true even before the COVID-19 pandemic turned everyone’s world upside down. To help our students to achieve the high levels of accomplishment that we set for them in our classes, our students need to know that you understand their lives. A syllabus statement can increase the likelihood that your students will feel less shame and less stigma about their emotional struggles and be more willing to seek out the help they need and deserve.