Students will have a hand in revising the Student Code of Conduct this semester. Eight focus groups of student volunteers will be formed, and each will concentrate on improving a specific aspect of the code. Assistant Dean of Students for Student Conduct and Community Standards Tamara Kenney is spearheading the project. In spring 2013, Kenney invited two external auditors to review and assess the current code of conduct.
These auditors identified weaknesses in the current code of conduct and provided suggestions for improvements. Kenney created the focus groups based on the auditors’ appraisal.
“It was a good time for us to step back and see what we like and don’t like about the system and to make some new adjustments,” Kenney said.
Kenney said that the code of conduct is integral to fostering effective relationships between the college and the students.
“As human beings, we all want to know what is expected of us. I truly believe that a code of conduct is a contract between students and the college as to the college’s behavioral expectations,” she said.
Kenney also said she believes that input from students will result in a better-informed code of conduct and that “it is educational in nature.”
Student Association President senior Katie Becker said that a document with power over students should incorporate student input.
“At the end of the day, we’re the ones who sign it,” she said.
“If students have some say in what [the code of conduct] says, I think they will support it as opposed to one that’s just handed down,” Dean of Students Leonard Sancilio said.
Kenney explained that she expects significant changes in the code of conduct to come from this project.
“Something that is severely lacking is just communication with the general population,” she said. She added that she hopes to make the code of conduct more readily accessible and easy to navigate for the average student. She said that, to solve this problem, she hopes to produce a “quick guide” that will allow students to understand the conduct process without having to read the entire thing.
Another goal of the project, according to Kenney, is to make students more comfortable approaching the conduct office for help. She hopes to publicize all of the services that her office provides.
“It’s not just that when you get in trouble, you get an invitation to come in,” she said. The office also provides support for preventing conduct infractions.
Kenney plans to have a focus group examine and amend the training system for residence hall staff so that they can better serve the needs of students. She said that the focus groups will work to improve the system for placing sanctions on students who have violated the code of conduct and develop a system that will keep people from committing further infractions.
Sancilio added that changes will be made to the code of conduct to allow it to represent new laws and mandates that have developed since it was last edited.
Kenney said that each focus group will work together over the course of the semester to produce a final report that dictates its recommendations for changes by June 1.
Students can join a focus group by taking a short survey online or by contacting Kenney. The survey will close on Friday Feb. 7.