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Washington State University Office of the President

Task force to launch in-depth review of student conduct process

A newly appointed 15-member task force will undertake a comprehensive review of the University’s student conduct process.

WSU President Kirk Schulz announced creation of the task force Dec. 9.

Craig Hemmens, professor and chair, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, will lead the group of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors representing WSU campuses statewide.

The task force will recommend ways to improve the fairness and educational value of the current conduct process. Members will examine conduct processes used by other universities, review current research in the field, and consider other information that could assist their efforts.

Goal: Incorporate best practices nationally

President Schulz says the goal of the review is to revise WSU’s conduct process to reflect best practices nationally while implementing conduct standards that provide a fair and equitable process for all students.

The in-depth review was prompted by feedback the president received from the WSU community after he began his presidency in June. Individuals and organizations suggested the University’s conduct process could be improved and represent WSU’s values better. President Schulz planned to review the process at the end of the calendar year, but the timeline was expedited when Whitman County Superior Court in mid-November overturned the suspension of a WSU student-athlete and cited procedural errors the conduct board made as the basis for the ruling.

3 to 4 months to complete review, recommendations

The task force’s work is expected to take three to four months to complete. The group will document its findings in a report and make recommendations to President Schulz, who will submit any proposed changes to the Board of Regents for consideration and possible adoption.

The broad review of the task force will be complemented by the narrower review led by the law firm Lyons O’Dowd, which is examining the specific issue of alleged racial and ethnic bias in the student conduct process. That report is expected to be available in early to mid-January and will be considered by the task force as part of its deliberations.

The University plans to implement any needed changes to the student conduct process by the beginning of the fall 2017 semester.

Immediate changes to conduct rules to be implemented

In the meantime, the University will implement some emergency rules for student conduct hearings occurring prior to the adoption of the task force recommendations. That decision was made after Division III of the Washington Court of Appeals ruled December 1 that WSU and other public institutions of higher education in the state must use a full adjudication process in cases where students face expulsion or are accused of sexual assault. WSU does not plan to appeal the court’s decision.

Student Conduct Process Task Force

The 15-member task force includes faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors representing WSU campuses statewide. Task force members invite comments and suggestions regarding WSU’s student conduct process.

Proposed timeline for review

The University hopes to implement a revised student conduct process by the beginning of the 2017 fall semester. See complete proposed timeline.

Washington State University