Student code of conduct gets updated, revamped

gabriella patti

Grand Valley State University’s new student code of conduct is set to be released soon, said Aaron Haight, director of judicial and special programs in the dean of students office.

Haight said that the code will be released once it receives approval from senior level administration. The student code was given a complete front to back review.

“We wanted to make it user-friendly, clean up the language and change the formatting to make it easier for students to access and understand,” Haight said.

The student code of conduct has been under review since last October and has received input from university counsel, campus police, Student Senate, the dean of students office and the office of student life.

Haight said that she did a review on other university practices and chose the ones that were well-tested.

Haight said that the language has been changed from judicial process to conduct process – this clarifies that it isn’t a legal process or code of law. Haight said this is one of the best practices nationally.

General Counsel, Thomas Butcher, said that the process is meant to be educational, not punitive.

“What has happened is we better defined some of the processes,” Butcher said.

Butcher said that the new student code of conduct clarifies processes that relate to conduct, academic integrity and sexual assault.

Haight said that one of the main focuses was to make the Code of Conduct more user-friendly.

“The format is going to be online,” Haight said. “It will be easy to access and to find things.”

A new student code website was created over the summer. It provides resources and support to students, faculty, staff and parents.

Student Senate President Andrew Plague met with Haight this summer to start to understand the changes to the student code of conduct. Haight also presented the broad changes to the entire Student Senate at a general assembly meeting this semester.

Plague believes that the processes outlined are fair and comprehensive, making the student code more accessible to students. He said that the past student code was intimidating to a student going through a disciplinary process.

Plague said the changes help students to understand the whole process.

“It will make them feel like there is nothing to hide,” Plague said.

Plague added that many of the changes, especially those regarding sexual assault are federally mandated.

Plague believes than a community, like a university, needs the code of conduct to function smoothly.

“I think that a college campus is just this really interesting situation because we are all adults but it’s kind of like the training wheels are still on and we are in this very simulated environment,” Plague said. “When you’ve created this community you need rules to make sure people are protected and treated fairly.”

Plague hopes that students take a chance to look at the new student code and understand it as something that is designed for their benefit rather than something to be afraid of.

“I think the rules serve more as a way for the university to insure that people’s experience is pleasant and are protected from mistreatment more so than a way to punish people,” Plague said.

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