| 03.20.2018

UJC to review code of conduct


The University of Idaho Faculty Senate has requested a new draft of the Student Code of Conduct be composed by the University Judicial Council.

After members of the senate felt the original revision proposed by the Dean of Students Office did not include enough protection of students rights.

Norman Pendegraft, senator and faculty member in the College of Business and Economics, proposed the resolution for a new draft of the code.

“Proposed changes to the faculty-staff handbook typically go through one of the faculty committees anyway and UJC would be the appropriate committee in this case,” Pendegraft said. “This is just giving them the opportunity to look at it now instead of later.”

Senate members expressed concern that the referral to UJC could complicate the process by creating an additional draft rather than working with the draft already proposed by the Dean of Students Office. The senate voted to allow the UJC to determine if it would work with the Dean of Students version, or create its own draft from the current code.

“It is my vision that the resolution is a proposal to start with the current code and modify it as necessary, rather than starting with the proposed revision from the Dean of Students Office,” Pendegraft said. “The section on amnesty in the current document, for example, is very good and should be retained. The proposed revision is deeply flawed and the fundamental vision of the proposed revision is disturbing. The current document has served us well. It needs some adjustments, but it is not broken.”

The draft proposed by Pitman and the Dean of Students Office effectively removed the UJC from the code to make it less legal-based and more administrative-based. The Council is comprised of 11 members — five faculty and six students.

Senator Liz Brandt, faculty member in the College of Law, said she does not think the two documents will be able to be blended if the UJC creates its own as Pendegraft suggested.

“There is a huge policy decision to be made,” Brandt said. “The code is currently based in criminal law and the (Dean of Students) proposal is to base it in administrative law. We cannot take rights from criminal law and paste them into administrative law – this would result in hopeless litigation for the university. Perhaps, senate is the body to make the policy decision of whether to base the code in criminal or administrative law.”

Pendegraft said Steve Shook, the UJC chair told him the council had not been consulted by the Dean of Students Office for their draft of the code, but that UJC is willing to undertake a revision process and create a new draft.

Dean of Students Bruce Pitman said he is looking forward to working with the UJC to develop a proposal and a draft that best fits the needs of the students.

“When I made our initial presentation to faculty senate a couple weeks ago. I made it clear that we certainly would be making changes based on the feedback we get during this comment period,” Pitman said. “We will only present a proposal to the faculty senate that faculty senate leadership feels the proposal is mature enough, complete enough for formal deliberation. Certainly, I would prefer a proposal that is an effort of collaborative conversation.”

Pendegraft said the UJC expressed concern that the Dean of Students Office was not sensitive to certain judicial issues in the current code. He said he thinks UJC input will broaden the conversation rather than narrow it. Pendegraft said the proposal presented by the Dean of Students Office is not a proposal to revise the current code of conduct, but a proposal to replace it. The proposal also includes a revision to the current Statement of Student Rights, which would effectively rewrite it.

“If you have not reviewed the current Statement of Student Rights, I respectfully suggest you do so to compare the language in that with the language in the proposal as they are radically different,” Pendegraft said. “I would hope that what comes out of UJC is a proposal that would be markedly friendlier to student rights as the current proposal is terribly hostile to student rights. I am hoping UJC will provide a sufficiently different alternative that I could support.”

Pendegraft and the faculty senate recognized that there are many issues that the Dean of Students likely thought of that will not be primary concerns for UJC. The senators agreed they would like to see a collaborative effort in order to integrate the main points addressed by the Dean of Students Office and concerns of UJC.

Pendegraft said UJC members have looked at the proposed changes and they like some aspects. He said they would like to merge the documents and suggest that certain features be brought in to the old document and add back in a little bit of protection to students in terms of due rights.

Pitman reiterated that the process of revising the student code of conduct is still in the preliminary stages and anyone with concerns or questions should visit the Dean of Students Office. Recommendations can also be made to UJC as they begin the process of revising the code.

Pendegraft said he thinks Pitman’s primary concerns are with extending the Code of Conduct to apply to off campus activity. While he is not entirely opposed to the idea, Pendegraft said he does not agree with removing the legal processes in the current code, and many students have also expressed concern. Any revisions to the student code of conduct and the student statement of rights must be approved by a majority vote of the student body, though the logistics of that are still being determined.

“I think language could be written that students would find acceptable– particularly if students help write the language,” Pendegraft said. “This is part of the attraction of UJC working on it since there are student members of this committee. It may be difficult to write this language but it is possible to do and if students are involved they are more likely to support it.”

Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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