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  April 17, 2000

New Student Conduct Code Approved by Trustees

The Board of Trustees Tuesday approved a new Student Code: Responsibilities of Community Life, which extends the University's jurisdiction off campus, broadens student involvement in judicial proceedings and creates a process to mediate conflict.

The code was drafted by a committee, chaired by Margaret Jablonski, associate vice chancellor of student affairs and acting dean of students, that consisted of students, faculty, and staff.

The group began meeting last fall and had more than 10 meetings, three open forums and 30 focus groups with various students groups including the Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate Student Council, town leaders, Faculty Senate committees, and others.

"We tried to make the process of rewriting the code as inclusive as possible. Students had broad input into the code and, in fact, provided the principles outlined in the preamble to the code," Jablonski told trustees.

The code, scheduled to take effect in September, is an outgrowth of the 1998 Task Force on Community and Civility, which recommended that the code be rewritten to simplify its messages and emphasize what conduct is expected of students.

Written in a non-legal style, the new code stresses individual accountability, the meaning of an academic community and the importance of personal growth and a "spirit of inquiry".

"The new code spells out the type of community we would like to have, and stresses that both integrity and personal accountability are essential in creating and maintaining a vibrant academic community," Jablonski said.

In extending the code off campus, the University follows a trend at colleges across the country, she said. While the old code applied only on campus or at events sponsored by the University or student organizations, the new code covers alleged misconduct that has direct and distinct adverse

impact on the University or its community or the pursuit of the University's objectives.

"If you are a UConn student, you are a student on campus or off campus. And because of that, a student's behavior can have a negative effect on UConn and our community," Jablonski said.

The new code notes that the dean of students will determine which off-campus misconduct is referred to the University's judicial system.

The new code also establishes student-only hearing panels to consider cases where the charges do not appear to be serious enough to result in suspension or dismissal. If the student panel feels a suspension or dismissal is warranted, it can make that recommendation to the dean of students.

Jablonski said about 100 students will be recuited this spring so that they can begin hearing cases in the fall.

The current code allows students to choose a hearing with either the dean of students or a board consisting of faculty and students. Currently, only fraternities and sororities have student hearing boards.

"Nationally, there has been very positive experience with student-only boards," Jablonski said. "In fact, students are often tougher on other students than administrators are."

The new code also coordinates information about academic misconduct. The procedures for handling academic misconduct such as cheating remain essentially unchanged, however. Academic hearings will continue to take place in the schools and colleges, with results provided to the dean of students' office for record-keeping and follow-up.

The new code clarifies the process of reporting information and will allow the dean of students to compile a complete picture of a student.

"If we find, for example, that a student has been found guilty of cheating in three separate incidents, we will be able to consider whether a serious sanction, such as suspension, is necessary," Jablonski said.

Also built into the code is a provision that it will be reviewed at least every three years, with an annual review of the off-campus provisions. The old code, effective since 1984, was not automatically reviewed.

Karen A. Grava