Only one student attended the university’s code of conduct town hall-style meeting last Wednesday afternoon.
The meeting, held at the Kinsella Auditorium, was a chance for students to ask questions and give feedback about the revision process of the new code.
Barry Craig, St. Thomas University’s vice-president academic, said he didn’t think there would be a big turn-out as all students have access to the new code of conduct.
He suggested the low turn-out could also be because students didn’t have enough notice about the meeting. An email was sent out to all students on Tuesday, a day before the meeting.
There’s still time for further consultation before the senate and board of governors decide whether to approve the code, Craig said.
“We encourage other students to give feedback. We will take the feedback and look at it and possibly change…we need to work on developing our community through education and communication,” he said.
During the meeting, Craig spoke about the need for a code.
A couple of years ago, he considered making a collection of all of the rules and appropriate ways of behaving for students.
But last year, after fourth-year student Andrew Bartlett died of an accidental fall in his apartment building after drinking at a volleyball team party, the code became alarmingly necessary, Craig said.
“We’ve put in the academic, athletic, and residence codes of conduct but we’ve added more…such as social conducts. There have been many, many amendments and alterations. It has been a long process.”
The original draft code came out in September. Since then, nothing has been added to the code, but some parts have changed.
He said that it’s a better process that shows transparency and consistency.
“It is a collection that provides a stronger, consistent, and clearer message of the forms of social misconduct,” Craig said.
Some students have come up to or emailed Craig and university president Dawn Russell to ask questions and give feedback.
At first, many students were concerned that the new code covered off-campus activities. The committee took this into consideration and made it clearer that a student’s off-campus activities are only moderated by the code if he or she is representing STU.
“It depends on the case. For example if a student is harassed off-campus and then afraid to go to class – that is in the university’s interest…whereas if you are home for break and drink and then crash into a tree or something…that is a different case,” said Craig.
He said some students think the legal drinking age doesn’t apply to them because they’re in university.
Craig said he realizes the code of conduct is not going to stop underage drinking.
“If the law hasn’t, why would a St. Thomas University code of conduct be able to?”
What administration is more concerned about are excessive drinking and the violence that can come with it.
Hazing is also addressed in the code and was previously prohibited in athletic policies.
Craig and the committee will be taking the new code of conduct to the senate this week, which only approves the academic portion.
Next month it will be brought to the board of governors. Craig hopes the code of conduct will be approved and ready to go for next semester.
The code no longer applies to students during vacations, summer months and periods of off-campus study.
In the first draft, one of three conditions needed to be met before off-campus activity could be punishable. The first condition has not changed and the code will be applicable during university sponsored events or when a student is representing the school.
The other two conditions have changed.
Now, the code applies if something happens that adversely affects the functioning of the university, or causes another person to fear for their safety. By Shane Magee
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