Due to the backlog cases involving minor violations to the student conduct policy last year, Associate Dean of Students Matt Burns has begun to refer many cases involving student misconduct to Residential Life Area Coordinators.

This is in contrast to the previous precedent, where most cases were heard by either the Dean of Students Office or by the All-Campus Judicial Council. ACJC is the only all-student group authorized to handle such violations. Serious cases and those involving repeat offenses will still be handled by the Dean of Students Office and ACJC.

“The point [of the decision] is to not criminalize student activity by sending [students] directly to the Dean’s Office,” Dean of Students Jody Asbury said. “Students can work within their living community to address the problem.”

Area Coordinators will follow the same sanctioning guidelines as the Dean of Students Office and ACJC did last year. Also, any student has the right to request a hearing with a Dean or with ACJC. According to ACJC Chief Justice Rachel Morissey, however, most students are unaware of this option.

“[The change in process] could have a negative effect,” Morissey said. “I’m concerned with removing students from the process since they possess a necessary perspective. [ACJC] would like a mixed group of students and Residential Life officials handling the cases. Of course, it is important that no matter what we do we remain consistent.”

Morissey said that ACJC plans to meet with Burns to discuss their concerns with the new process.

Burns, however, does not feel that consistency is a main issue. “As long as sanctions are fair they don’t necessarily have to be consistent,” said Burns, “but if there is a problem with consistency, I’ll know it.” Burns said he meets regularly with area coordinators to discuss cases that they are hearing and to ensure that cases are handled properly.

Residential Life Director Logan Hazen considers the new process an improvement and has no doubt that area coordinators are the right people to deal with the minor violations. “The current system couldn’t keep up with the volume, so it was time to look and see how we can deal with the issues more promptly,” said Hazen. “Area coordinators have always been involved at different levels. They are full time professionals with experience and can respond quickly to the community needs.”

Severs can be reached at asevers@campustimes.org.

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