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Values of Community Reflected
In New Student Conduct Code
February 14, 2000

Students will be asked to comment on a proposed new student code of conduct at hearings during the coming month.

The code is simplified and puts the emphasis not on cause and effect but on the underlying philosophy of educational responsibility, says Peggy Jablonski, interim associate vice chancellor and dean of students.

Developed by a 15-member committee of students, staff and faculty, who have been working since the beginning of last semester, the proposed code was written after more than 30 focus groups and two open forums were held, Jablonski says.

"The code embodies the core values of the University and what it means to be a UConn student and member of our community," she says.

The values are:

  • civility towards others;

  • respect for people and property;

  • responsible citizenship;

  • involvement by students in maintaining academic and behavioral standards; and

  • alternative dispute resolution as an effective means of managing conflict.

The proposed code also strengthens provisions on academic misconduct, creates opportunities for mediation and peer judicial boards, and says that the code, for the first time, will be applied to conduct that "adversely affects the University community," even if the conduct is not on campus or at a University-sponsored event.

"The new code is very, very student-friendly, easier to read, and focused on making UConn a better place to go to school," says Tiffany Burkitt, a senior majoring in communication sciences.

"The proposed code doesn't revolve around telling students what will happen if they do something bad but rather telling them what it means to uphold certain community standards," she says. She says at first she did not like the idea of extending the code to include behavior off campus, but came to realize that certain behaviors can affect the entire University and the value of a UConn degree. "This provision will be used to protect the University's reputation or, in the case of something severe such as a rape, to protect a victim" she says.

Another member of the committee, Suman Singha, associate dean of agriculture and natural resources, said he is pleased that the code spells out what constitutes academic misconduct.

"A student who comes here from a high school may not understand what plagiarism is. Situations are not always quite clear and that can cause problems," he says. The new code is less legalistic than the current code, but does more than just tell student what to expect should they misbehave, he says.

"The code is written in the spirit of building community," Singha says. "It educates students about what is expected and it ties policies (such as the Computer Center's policy on electronic misconduct) together, so students can learn what is expected of them," he says.

Both Singha and Burkitt say the proposed code is easier to read and less intimidating than the old one.

Open forums are scheduled for: Monday, Feb. 14, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Student Union Room 218; and on Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Student Union Room 358. The forums will give the campus community a chance to react to the draft code and make suggestions for consideration by the committee as it finalizes the code for presentation to the Trustees' Student Life Committee.

The code will be presented to the Student Life Committee on Thursday, March 2, at 6 p.m. in the Community Room at South Campus. This meeting will serve as the board's public forum on the proposed code, which will be voted on at the full meeting of the Board of Trustees in April.

If approved by the trustees, students will be recruited in late spring to serve on judicial boards. The code will be explained to students at orientation sessions during the summer and will take effect in September.

Karen A. Grava