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Revision of Student Conduct Code advised
(March 22, 1999)

A team of student affairs specialists from other universities has recommended that the Code of Student Conduct be completely rewritten to be less legalistic, have an emphasis on the values of the institution and extend the University's jurisdiction to include misbehavior not just on campus but in any part of Mansfield.

The report will open a year-long process to rework the code, said Vicky Triponey, vice chancellor of students affairs.

The process will begin Tuesday, March 23, with two public forums, one from 1-2:30 p.m. in Student Union room 306 and the second from 7:30-9 p.m. in South Campus Building A, room 124/5.

"Through these sessions, we will begin to lay the ground work for making changes in or perhaps totally rewriting the Student Code of Conduct," Triponey says. Comments on the code or the report may also be submitted to Triponey at U-121.

Triponey says student affairs staff have begun reviewing the report, soliciting feedback from the campus community, and will eventually decide which recommendations to accept and work towards implementation.

"We are only in the first stage of the process. We need to get feedback from the campus community," she says.

Members of the review team say much can be gained from the process of writing a new code, especially if it can result in shorter, less legalistic language that emphasizes UConn's goals to educate the individual and protect the community.

"Institutional values need to be revisited and perhaps clarified, and an open and highly public dialogue about rights, responsibilities, civility, and the expectations of how community members conduct themselves would need to occur," the report says.

The report notes that rewriting the code can be the beginning of a process to state the values of the institution and the behaviors to which every member of the community should aspire.

"We recommend that the code be expanded to include more aspirational language, that it should address both rights and responsibilities, and that UConn consider developing it or a related statement for all university community members."

The review team included members from the University of Delaware, Washburn University, the University of Colorado-Denver, Kansas State University. They found UConn's code "at the very least, in need of a major overhaul. The code "does not inspire civil behavior, is vague in places where clarity is needed and overly specific where brevity would be preferable," they said.

The report recommends extending the University's jurisdiction beyond the campus in matters of student discipline. In terms of the main campus, jurisdiction should include all of Mansfield, which has no real center of town and no town police force. Jurisdiction with regard to felonies should extend to the borders of the United States, the report says, and should have no borders with regard to academic dishonesty, given today's electronic technology.

Other recommendations include:

  • institute a parental notification policy in cases of alcohol or illegal drug use cases, to "send a powerful message to students and parents that such violations are taken seriously and that parents have an important partnership role with the university" and can help in reducing behavioral problems;

  • streamline the appeals process and eliminate multiple appeals of discipline cases;

  • change the role of the staff of the Dean of Students' office so they no longer serve as "prosecutors;"

  • update systems to allow cases to be handled more quickly and efficiently;

  • establish a judicial process to handle student misconduct within residence halls;

  • train all residence hall staff in mediation and conflict resolution;

  • rewrite the housing contract and create a residence hall handbook;

  • install new security systems to control access to residence halls by non-residents;

  • get the police more involved in the campus judicial process, particularly in investigations of code violations;

  • improve communication between the police and the Dean of Students' office;

  • invest in an expanded mediation program through the Dean of Students' office;

  • use orientation programs and a letter to new students to spell out clearly what behaviors are expected of students;

  • eliminate regional campus committees on student conduct because they are needed infrequently;

  • increase student-faculty interaction outside the classroom; and

  • improve student advising.

Karen Grava