Office calls for student input in code rewrite
The University’s Office of Student Conduct had made revisions to the Student Code of Conduct. The new code will go into effect in September and will consider student input this week at open forums held on each campus.
Anne Newman, director of the Office of Student Conduct, addressed a room of four people at an open forum in the Busch Campus Center yesterday about upcoming changes to the Student Code of Conduct.
She said a complete revision of the code is necessary because her office’s staff believes it is outdated.
“To make this a better process, we thought we needed to completely rewrite it,” Newman said. “Our ultimate goal is to present a complete rewrite to the University community and put it into effect in fall of 2012.”
Newman said recent sanction changes were proposed so that students facing disciplinary trouble are given more flexibility, when previously there was none.
“Currently, disciplinary probation prohibits students from representing the University in leadership or other activities, so what we’ve done is modified the sanctions so that disciplinary probation no longer has that provision,” she said.
Another proposed change is the streamlining of the hearing process and the code of conduct, including a 20-day reduction in the hearing process and an abridged, simpler code of conduct.
Newman’s goal in holding student conduct forums throughout the week is to simplify the hearing process to make it agreeable for everybody involved, whether they are affiliated with the University.
“I want to provide a process in which, if you’re a student going through the process or you’re a community member filing a complaint with our office, you feel you’ve been heard, you understand how the process works and you feel prepared for the process,” she said.
The Office of Student Conduct hosts briefings, like yesterday’s open hearing, aimed at improving communication between the staff and the students on issues that affect both groups, Newman said.
In addition to public meetings, Newman said her office also receives feedback from an online survey that is found on the Office of Student Conduct’s official website.
When approaching a rewrite of the code, Newman and her colleagues considered its language and phrasing.
“If you look at the current code of conduct, it uses a lot of legal language,” she said. “What we did when we sat down to rewrite it was ask ourselves, what are we trying to say?”
The proposed changes will continue to be made until the University Board of Governors meets in the summer, when the Office of Student Conduct brings the proposal to them for a vote, Newman said.
William Mogtader, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he felt as though the changes had good intentions, but had possible unintended consequences.
“I’m kind of wary anytime something like that gets rewritten because I wouldn’t want something valuable being rewritten,” he said.
While he agreed with some of the Office of Student Conduct’s decisions, Mogtader said he had mixed feelings on the decision to further simplify the language.
“It’s easier for [students] to understand [the code], but that means the administration will also have more leniency with how they can define certain things,” Mogtader said. “‘Disorderly person’ has a very legalistic definition as compared with something like, ‘did [I do] something to annoy you?’”
Mogtader said the new sanctions were a positive change that allowed for a more case-by-case approach to the process.
“Cases are so individualized that I don’t think it’s fair sometimes for people to get probation just because it’s their second strike,” he said.
Patrick Kessel, a School of Engineering sophomore, said he supported the Office of Student Conduct’s measures.
“I’m a huge fan. … I think that adding new sanctions is the fairest way to do it,” he said. “Look at the Granato hearing. … He got probation, and it prevents him from serving as [Newark College of Arts and Sciences Student Government Association president].”
Kessel also said that simplifying the language and clearly defining the terms will make it easier for students to understand the process.
“If I’m brought up on charges, I want to be able to know exactly what I’m looking for in the code,” he said. “If these changes are going to do that, then I say bring them on.”