Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Code of Student Conduct under reform by UMass students

Andrew Lasky, Aaron Lovine and Rob Deters, three seniors at the University of Massachusetts who have been interning at the Law Offices of Attorney Daniel M Sandell, have been appointed to revise the Code of Student Conduct by Sandell, a UMass alumnus from the Class of 2000.

“We read through it and we found that there were serious detriments to student rights,” Lasky said. “If you apply to this University, you’re subject to any rules and sanctions held and applied by the Student Code of Conduct.”

When accepted to UMass, every student is told to read and is required to sign the Code of Student Conduct. The preface of this document states, “The CSC describes principles for living and acting responsibly in a community setting, with respect for the rights of all members of that community, and for their property, common resources, and values. The purpose is to reinforce and encourage the development of good decision-making and personal integrity and to teach these skills where they are lacking. It is the University’s goal that as students make their way through any aspect of the conduct process, they will leave that process as better educated students, better members of the University community, and better global citizens.”

“Until we started working on this project,” Lasky said, “I had never read the Code of Student Conduct, and speaking with other students recently as we’ve started to get this going, a lot of students have never read the Code of Student Conduct. We are trying to gain light that this is directly affecting your rights as a member of this university.”

When a student is subject to a hearing, that student is allowed to bring a lawyer to the hearing at the Dean’s Office, but that lawyer is not allowed to say anything. This is one of the biggest detriments to student rights, Sandell said. He argued that it doesn’t make sense to “not be able to have a lawyer when paying such a high tuition.”

The CSC reform group has noted revisions, as well as the reasoning for their revisions, on the CSC itself.

Under the “Investigation of Charges” section, the current CSC states, “If no charges are filed, but in the judgment of the Dean of Students or her or his designee grounds to exist to believe that the student would benefit from education on a topic related to the investigated behavior, the University may assign a student to an educational process or program to address the concern.”

The revision made by the reformers states, “If no charges are filed then the Dean of Students may not impose any sanctions (education courses or otherwise) on the student. Formal procedure must be adhered to in order to compel a student to take part in anything usually attributed with disciplinary action.”

Reasoning is provided underneath each revision. In this case, that reasoning states, “It is common knowledge that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. Imposing sanctions on a student for non-violent offenses before their hearing or without a hearing is unfair. These education courses are often very costly and imposing them on a whim with no conviction could potentially hurt students.”

Another change that Sandell, Lasky and his peers find to be necessary is in the “Hearing Board Procedures.” Currently, the jury or the hearing board is made up of staff selected and trained by the Dean of Students. The revision made by Sandell’s team is to have all undergraduate students living on campus be notified that they might have to participate in jury duty with disciplinary cases.

“Appointments to the Conduct Hearing Board will consist of randomly selected students from the University in order to establish a fair and unbiased jury of peers,” reads the revision made by Sandell’s team.

According to the team, the reputation of the University has a large part to do with why the CSC is as strict as it is. This reputation is being harmed by events like Blarney Blowout, but Lasky believes that the way that the University has been handling the events causing its reputation to be harmed is an unfair and “totalitarian approach to student life.”

“It’s hard to really implement any kind of policy change coming from inside the University,” Lasky said. “Members of SGA have found that they’ve been stonewalled by University officials…. They have not only stonewalled students from proceeding with this, but have actively told them not to pursue it.”

Sandell expressed frustration with the lack of cooperation by University officials.

“My interns have submitted their revisions, and they haven’t even looked at it. They are trying to run out the clock on these three seniors,” he said.

The reason that the reform group is trying to get as much exposure as possible is so that returning students can go forward with these efforts. With outside exposure and pressure such as acknowledgment from ABC 40 or The Boston Globe, Lasky and his peers are confident that the change they want to make could really be possible.

Daniel Maldonado may be reached at [email protected].

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