May 24—The Washington State University Student Conduct Process Task Force has identified fundamental principles and compiled preliminary recommendations for revising the University’s rules governing student conduct and community standards.
The 15-member task force, appointed by WSU President Kirk Schulz in December to undertake a comprehensive review of the student conduct process, met regularly from December through April. The group will continue to refine its work during the summer and expects to begin extensive public vetting of proposed rules changes early in the fall semester.
”We’ve made excellent progress,” said task force chair Craig Hemmens, professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “We’ve examined best-in-class conduct processes used by other universities and reviewed current research in the field.”
The task force has focused its efforts on more clearly identifying the rights and responsibilities of students, according to Hemmens. The group has identified several points of emphasis, including:
- Students must be educated and informed about their rights, and those rights will be protected during the student conduct process.
- Students will be expected to uphold and be accountable to high standards of conduct.
- Students will have access to conduct advisors who can provide both procedural and substantive guidance. In full adjudicative hearings, students will also have the right to retain and be represented by legal counsel.
- Conduct board members will be trained in cultural competency and implicit bias, conflict of interest, and sexual assault and gender-based violence.
- In appropriate cases, the student conduct officer will consider whether alternative dispute resolution may be suitable to resolve a matter.
- Sanctioning guidelines will be published online 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 task force will conduct a public forum at each WSU campus across the state and online for the Global Campus community during the fall. The University Board of Regents eventually must approve implementation of revisions to the conduct rules. The revised rules are expected to be in place in 2018.
“We’re striving to ensure that we implement a community standards process that reflects the university’s core values,” said Mary Jo Gonzales, vice president for student affairs and an ex officio member of the task force. “I’m confident we’re on the right path to achieving that goal.”
Public forums to be held in the fall
The 15-member Student Conduct Process Task Force will hold public forums in the fall throughout the WSU system to share its recommendations for revising the University’s rules governing student conduct and community standards.
The task force’s work has been informed in part by the external review of the conduct process completed by the law firm Lyons O’Dowd in February. Read the complete Lyons O’Dowd report.