Hall updates ASG on student conduct revisions, Gomez talks improving student retention rates


Allegheny Student Government members had little to say when Assistant Dean of Students Joe Hall visited its general assembly meeting to discuss the revision process of the student conduct system — the policies addressed in The Compass, Allegheny’s student handbook.

“Quiet group,” Hall said, after asking for questions during the Tuesday, Feb. 5, meeting.

The student conduct system is reviewed every three years to determine academic and nonacademic conduct, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment policies.

In consultation with ASG and the Campus Life and Community Standards Committee, the conduct policy revisions are spearheaded by the student conduct officer and the executive vice president, reports a document distributed by Hall prior to the presentation.

Hall’s presentation served as an opportunity to connect with ASG and constituents to ask for feedback while subcommittees are still in the planning process.

“Any material amendments to the disciplinary system (unless required by law) require a simple majority vote of the ASG Senate and the Allegheny faculty and the approval of the President,” The Compass reads.

The revision process requires the conduct policy to be broken down into sections: alcohol and drugs policies, sexual misconduct, discriminatory harassment and bias, general college policies, Title IX responding processes and sanctions.

“We’re at the stage right now where we’re putting all of the information together,” Hall said.  

Hall outlined the timeline for revisions, saying that the final document will be released in March. All section proposals are to be combined into a final recommendation to be presented to the Administrative Executive Committee and then to CLCS committee. The formal reading for faculty and ASG will take place March 7.

The scheduled date for the second reading of the revised policies is April 11, and will be presented to the AEC, Allegheny’s primary policy-making body, for final approval.

Meeting with the subcommittees weekly, Hall said the process requires a “quick turnaround,” so he wanted to consult with ASG to make sure all feedback was taken into consideration.

Answering a question from Elyse Cinquino, ’21, Hall said there is representation from Campus Life within each subgroup, and the chair from each will share feedback and information with the steering committee.

The steering committee consists of Hall, Title IX Coordinator Gilly Ford, Dean for Institutional Diversity Kristin Dukes, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Social Justice Center justin adkins, Dean of Students April Thompson and Associate Professor Lisa Whitenack.

“We’re meeting weekly to check in with how our work is going with each group as well,” Hall said. “It’s a lot of information to review, so that’s the reasoning behind the strategy in terms of breaking it into the subgroups so that we can work quickly. … As we present information to ASG or faculty, sometimes there’s a lot of feedback. We have to go back and correct things and make changes.”

If students have comments for the conduct revisions, Hall encouraged students to reach out to members of the steering committee to share their ideas.

During her report, Attorney General Monessha Jayabalan, ’19, reminded everyone that election paperwork is available on the ASG website and is due by Feb. 13.

The first dining committee meeting was held, Cat Lord, ’20, director of sustainability and environmental affairs reported. To try and reduce waste in McKinley’s Food Court, Lord said she and her committee are working with Parkhurst Dining Services to create electronic receipts by using GET Funds.

The College Committees Council met Feb. 3, Jason Ferrante, ’20, chief of staff, said. With representation from each committee in attendance, Ferrante said they discussed 30-year and 7-year plans for the college, next year’s fiscal year budget and improvements to residence hall facilities.

“A lot of our competitor colleges, specifically The College of Wooster, are doing really serious bathroom improvements, so we want to beat our competitors,” Ferrante said. “So that’s one area we’re really considering.”

The CCC also talked about how to structure academic courses and how to improve scheduling for classes, Ferrante said.

One issue brought by faculty, Ferrante said, was including diversity training for faculty and staff members.

Ferrante also announced he and Jayabalan will be working on updating ASG’s 40-page constitution after having all campus clubs and organizations review their constitutions last semester.

“We figured it’s high time we look at our constitution,” Ferrante said. “There’s a lot of things that we have kind of changed in practice for efficiency’s sake and clarity’s sake.”

The Class of 2022 reported its first year formal will be held Feb. 23, and in an attempt to increase attendance, they will be knocking on first-years’ doors to promote the event.

President Camila Gomez, ’19, updated ASG on her meeting with the Allegheny Board of Trustees, saying that the main issue discussed during their visit was about improving retention, targeting first-year students.

Gomez said Allegheny received the results from the Gardner Institute report which consists of data collected from the Gardner company to help advise the college on increasing the number of graduates from Allegheny.

“The findings were essentially that we need to work on the first year experience,” Gomez said. “That’s going to be really important, so we mostly discussed what the recommendations in the report were and how those are going to be conducted in the next couple years.”

More “robust and nuanced” first-year advising, community programs and GPA were some of the specific topics administrators and college officials plan to address.

Now, Allegheny’s retention rate is in the “low to mid-70s,” Gomez said, but in the next seven years, she said the ultimate goal is to raise the rate to 91 to 92 percent.

“It might seem like a lot, but that’s where we should be,” Gomez said. “Each percentile point is only about seven or eight students.”

Gomez said she thinks the first-year experience “definitely needs work,” and while the plans for improvement are in their preliminary stages, she thinks the recommendations made during the trustees’ visit will help with retention rates.

To conclude the meeting, Gretchen Beck, ASG adviser and associate dean of students for wellness education delivered her report, reminding students to welcome the new counselor in the Counseling and Personal Development Center and noted that Winslow Health Center is offering more STI clinics this semester.