February 6—The Washington State University Student Conduct Process Task Force has submitted 32 recommendations designed to make the university’s student conduct process reflect best practices nationally.
The recommendations are part of the report the task force of 17 WSU faculty, staff, students, and alumni recently wrote after finishing a year-long, comprehensive review of the current student conduct process. The report was submitted to WSU President Kirk Schulz on January 22.
The recommendations address a variety of topics, ranging from improving the ways in which students are informed and educated about the conduct process to revising the composition of the conduct board and providing new, in-depth training to board members.
“The task force carefully considered the input received from all areas of the university community,” said Nancy Youlden, task force co-chair and vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment, WSU Vancouver. “We gained valuable insights from each step of the process. We believe these recommendations provide a solid foundation upon which to build a student conduct system that is among the best in the nation.”
The report’s recommendations are grouped by six themes: student notifications, conduct and appeals board structure and member training, conduct process, review of policies, educational outreach to campus community, and assessment/evaluation strategies. Among the major recommendations:
- Ensure students are fully informed of their rights at the beginning of a conduct case and provide them with resources and access to university advisors and legal resources.
- Implement mandatory training for conduct board members in areas such as cultural competency and implicit bias, conflict of interest, and sexual assault and gender-based violence.
- Implement term limits for conduct board members.
- Provide alternative dispute resolution when it may be a suitable avenue to resolve a matter.
- Publish sanctioning guidelines that explain in plain language the types of sanctions students may face for a particular violation of community standards and the factors used to determine sanctions.
The report notes that the task force did not reach a unanimous decision on all of its recommendations. Dissenting opinions addressing the group accountability of student organizations and representation during brief adjudication proceedings are also included in the document.
Task force members studied best-in-class conduct processes of other universities, reviewed current research in the field, and examined data about past WSU conduct cases. Members also reviewed more than 300 comments submitted by the WSU community and commissioned an online survey to gather additional input.
“I appreciate the task force’s comprehensive review and the effort to ensure as many voices as possible were heard and incorporated throughout the process,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz.
New conduct rules expected to be in place by fall semester
After an administrative review, Schulz will determine which of the recommendations to adopt. The WSU division of the state Office of the Attorney General will draft revisions to the Washington Administrative Code that governs student conduct based on the recommendations and administrative review.
A formal hearing to invite public comment on the revised Washington Administrative Code will take place later in the spring. The University’s Board of Regents must approve adoption of revised rules, which are expected to be in place by the fall 2018 semester.
Regular updates about the next steps in revising the conduct progress will be published on this website.