ASG approves long-debated student conduct policy

Allegheny Student Government voted to approve the new student conduct policy on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, which was submitted by the Campus Life and Community Standards Committee. The policy originally came to ASG for a vote on Dec. 1, 2015, and was struck down.

The move to approve the amended student conduct policy was defeated at the Dec. 3 meeting, largely due to concerns voiced by members of ASG. The primary concerns were perceived ambiguities in the section on disciplinary sanctions and the lack of enforcement of the statement of community within the policy.

ASG Director of Diversity and Inclusion Connor Racine, ’16, voiced his frustration with the conduct policy at the meeting, which he claimed did nothing to enforce the statement of community.

“At the moment the sentiment is that the conduct policy is not holding students accountable for violating that policy,” Racine said.

At the moment the sentiment is that the conduct policy is not holding students accountable for violating that policy.

— Connor Racine

On Jan. 26, two student representatives from the committee came to hear concerns from ASG and get a sense of what would need to be changed in order to pass the conduct policy. On Feb. 2, four members of the committee, including the committee chair, Assistant Professor of Biology Lisa Whitenack, came to address the concerns voiced by ASG.   

Whitenack said that the section on disciplinary sanctions could be improved to give more examples of what constitutes a violation of various policies.

“We are certainly willing to explore having those examples put into the code of conduct, however those examples would have to be approved,” Whitenack said.

Whitenack said that while the committee can work to be more specific in some areas, in others it must keep the language vague in the interest of legal protection. She said this was especially the case in the section on the retroactive suspension of degrees.

“[The lawyer] insisted that the language be vague in order to protect the college,” Whitenack said.  

Addressing ASG’s final concern—the lack of enforcement of the statement of community—Whitenack said implementation of enforcement policies will be a process.

“It’s going to take time, which I know you don’t want to hear,” she said.

After hearing from the committee’s representatives, a vote to approve the student conduct policy was called. The vote to approve the policy was almost unanimous.   

At the meeting, ASG also discussed several issues it hopes to address this semester. ASG Vice President Tess Bracken, ’17, said her ad hoc committee on safety is working to secure a copy of the recent study done by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation which found that no speed limit change was required on North Main Street. Bracken said the committee believes the report may be flawed.

ASG President Haley Riley, ’16, reported that she is working to get more students into the planning of Gator Day programs, which has become a point of concern among faculty.

“Right now I think it’s really lacking in student involvement,” Riley said.

Riley hopes by getting more students involved, attendance of Gator Day programming will increase. She also hopes to take the responsibility of planning events off the shoulders of faculty, who have pointed out that Gator Day was always meant to be planned by students and not by faculty.

Riley also announced that ASG will be exploring the possibility of funding some kind of initiative that would provide low-income students with textbooks. She said while ASG cannot give money to individuals directly, there may be a way to form a club or program which ASG could fund.