University updates Student Handbook, introduces new Code of Conduct

Madeline Diamond, News Editor

The University announced changes to the Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook in an email to students on Aug. 12.  In the email, Dean of Students Susan Lantz informed students about the updated Code of Conduct.

Some of the most significant changes include the overall streamlining of the Student Handbook and the elimination of the point system associated with the University’s drug and alcohol policy. The Code of Conduct is now more concise after removing redundant information. It also includes policies that cover both academic and social responsibility on campus.

These changes have been in the works since last summer, when University President John Bravman held a review of alcohol policies and procedures. The handbook, while published every year, received its first major revision since 2004.

“After reevaluating the Handbook, talking with students in several focus groups throughout the fall semester, and reviewing handbooks of several peer institutions, it became clear that a comprehensive revision of our entire Student Handbook was appropriate,” Lantz said.

Bravman and Lantz also worked with University General Counsel Amy Foerster, as well as the Operations and Management Group, the Provost Council, and the Division of Student Affairs in order to rewrite the Handbook. The Committee on Campus and Student Life, made up of both faculty members and students, also offered input on the revision.

“The associate deans and I have been talking with several student groups such as fall athletes, orientation assistants, resident advisers, and junior fellows. Students have been asking great questions about the changes, especially those within the alcohol and other drug policies,” Lantz said.

Public Safety was also consulted about the revisions. Chief of Public Safety Steve Barilar stated that Public Safety’s main role is to enforce the Student Handbook changes. Barilar also noted the positive impact of the addition of the University’s Medical Amnesty Policy last year.

“We always hope for a safer community,” Barilar said.

The elimination of the point system seeks to move away from past “overly punitive” practices, according to the Code of Conduct. The new disciplinary system allows for more short-term punishment that will not impact students’ long-term academic careers.

The new conduct involves a series of hearings depending on the specific case. Assistant Dean of Students Chip Marrara, who is also the Student Conduct Administrator, will work with members of the Residential Education Office for cases that may be resolved through a pre-hearing. Alternatively, an administrative hearing officer will deal with alcohol and drug cases that do not qualify for a pre-hearing resolution. A community conduct board also exists to handle other cases.

In order to further educate students about the revised Code of Conduct, the University added a “Know the Code” section to its website.  The website features the complete Student Handbook and Code of Conduct, as well as facts and frequently asked questions about each document. The University also created an email account, [email protected], for students to submit any questions about the new policies.

“The Division of Communications helped to develop [the Know the Code Campaign] into a larger communications campaign to help raise awareness about the important changes to the Student Handbook and, specifically, the Code of Conduct,” Vice President of Communications Andy Hirsch said.

The University has encouraged students, especially through “Know the Code” on the website, to educate themselves about the new policies and resolve any questions with the administration.

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