The ASUI Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would require its adviser to immediately report if any members of ASUI were found in violation of the University of Idaho Student Code of Conduct.
Director of Student Involvement and ASUI Adviser Shawn O’Neal said the bill provides a process of communication that was previously unavailable between himself and the senate in regard to transgressions committed by ASUI officials.
“There was an apparatus in place, where if somebody were to break a rule, there would be no way for the senate to know of any wrongdoing and in turn, no way for them to act in response,” O’Neal said. “It was already in their rules and regulations to abide by the student code, there was just no way for it to be reported if violated, until now.”
Sen. Zackary Spence said by enrolling at UI, students voluntarily accept responsibility for compliance with all university policies, as well as local ordinances and state or federal laws.
Spence said violating the student code of conduct is grounds for impeachment, but since ASUI had no way of knowing about any indiscretions committed by its members, no actions could be taken against them.
“We need to be student leaders who other people can look up to and if people are getting away with breaking state law and not losing their elected position, then how accountable are we really?” Spence said.
O’Neal said it was not until recently that ASUI was made aware of the problem. In the past, the only way ASUI officials would be held responsible was if a student on the senate somehow found out about the conduct offense.
“It definitely was a loophole in the rules that could be exploited,” O’Neal said. “We want to be very respectful of student privacy rights, but when appointed to these positions, they accept some level of a public role beyond just being a student and that needed to be recognized.”
ASUI Pro-Tempore Mattie Cupps said the legislation helps uphold the integrity of ASUI by keeping its members accountable and allowing the senate to conduct the proper procedures against those found violating school policy.
“As students, we should be following the student code of conduct, regardless, but I believe that as leaders of the university, we should be held to a higher standard than other students because we are elected to represent them,” Cupps said.
Cupps said it is important for ASUI officials to face the consequences of their actions because it is not fair for the student body to be held liable, and not ASUI.
O’Neal said that the bill speaks volumes about ASUI and their desire to hold one another responsible.
“ASUI takes integrity seriously and they recognize that they are representing students, and if they violate the student code of conduct, they should absolutely be held accountable,” O’Neal said.
Olivia Heersink can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @heersinkolivia