The Students’ Association Senate had an open meeting last Monday night to discuss students’ rights issues on campus.

While attendance was low ? besides 19 members of senate, there were only 17 other students present, including members of the executive and judicial branches of student government ? the meeting was lively and productive, as issues including UR’s disciplinary policy, security procedures and the right to privacy of SA groups were discussed.

Eric Dubowsky, senior and president of Delta Kappa Epsilon, which is currently subject to summary probation by the university, was upset by the way the university has handled the issue of summary probation, and most of the attendees of the meeting agreed.

“Summary probation is a serious issue,” senior and All-Campus Judicial Council chief justice Ryan Walter said. “It needs to be codified when summary probation is to be used.”

“It’s not very clear what specific offenses fall under each category of probation,” agreed senator and junior Adam Simmons.

“I haven’t heard of any non-Greek organization that’s been put on summary probation,” Dubowsky said. “Greeks have been targeted in outrageous form.”

Dubowsky also criticized the university’s disciplinary policy. “I have a serious problem with the university’s ‘guilty until proven innocent’ policy,” Dubowsky said. “Over the past year, I’ve been very disappointed in the actions of the university.”

Walters disagreed with Dubowsky’s interpretation of UR’s policy. “The policy of the university is innocent until proven guilty ? if it was otherwise, the university wouldn’t hold hearings.”

Senior and off-campus senator Ashley Connor had a third interpretation of the policy. “Whether it’s the intention or not, the university’s usage of names makes the policy appear to be guilty until proven innocent,” she said. “If nothing has been proven on this campus, names should be kept out of the media.”

There is currently no policy preventing the university from releasing the name of a group involved in a disciplinary incident, regardless of whether the university has proven guilt or wrongdoing.

In security reports released by security and published in the Campus Times, names of individuals are typically omitted unless an arrest has been made, but group affiliations have been published.

Walters warned those present at the meeting that a statement from senate on students’ rights would not necessarily be enough to effect change.

“We should be talking about creating university policy,” Walters said. “A statement from the senate would have essentially no effect.”

Connor agreed, saying “We can write documents or whatever, but if we don’t change university policy, it’s not going to affect students.”

Walters raised another concern about security.

“I’m not sure if security has policies written down or if they have or if they have policies at all,” he said. “I think there needs to be oversight of security.”

“Nobody’s being held accountable for the policies that are being enforced,” Connor added.

Other topics discussed at the meeting included whether groups should be punished for the actions of individuals in the group or vice versa, whether security should be allowed to enter special interest housing and fraternity housing and the standard of proof used at university hearings.

Simmons helped organize and set up the meeting for the senate. “My goal is to have something outlined about how the administration works with groups,” Simmons said.

Simmons also said that he wanted to have a section added to the student handbook describing what criteria would apply to each punishment could be assigned both by the university and the senate, including summary probation.

“There’s nothing written down that holds the senate responsible for our interaction with student groups, and we should be held responsible, he said.”Fundamentally, the university’s disciplinary policy is good, but there’s nothing outlining what a group’s specific rights are and until that exists, specific instances can be overlooked.”

Senior and speaker of the senate Bronwen Van Hooft praised Simmons for his work on the students’ rights meeting. “I’m proud of Adam for taking on a leadership role. He’s a model senator,” Van Hooft said. “We need to think about these rights so we can protect the groups that we’re supposed to be helping.”

Senior and SA president John LaBoda agreed. “I thought tonight’s meeting was very useful to get a lot of viewpoints from students not necessarily involved in student government,” he said.

Berry can be reached at tberry@campustimes.org.



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