Student conduct code updated

The New Standards of Conduct for WSU students went into effect in late December. Tenets of the new code are similar to the old: Abide by the law, be honest, be a good citizen.

But the new code is more transparent, defines terms used in the conduct process and better addresses the student-university relationship in the 21st century, said Elaine Voss, director of the Office of Student Conduct.

“Mostly it addresses basic civility,” she said.

The old code needed reworking because the language was dated and it did not address certain issues created by emerging technology, such as the ability to surreptitiously photograph people in private situations with cell phones and accessibility of information on the Internet, she said.

In essence, the conduct code describes the relationship, or terms of enrollment, between the university and students.

“Learning to be a responsible citizen is part of the educational experience,” Voss said, and her office sees its mission as primarily educational.

“We expect students to learn from their mistakes,” Voss said, that’s why the code implements a progressive discipline policy with increasingly serious consequences for a second or third offense.

The process to update the code began in 2005, but was delayed several times while officials attempted to work out a balance between protecting free speech and protecting a civil environment on campus. Voss said she believes that balance has been reached, but the code is a working document that will be amended as needed.

“As we use it, we will note what works and what doesn’t and refine it as we go,” she said.

There likely will be changes in the fall if the Faculty Senate approves suggested revisions to the section on academic integrity.

 The previous code had been in place since the early 1990s. It and the new code are adapted from model codes created by Ed Stoner and John Lowery, well-known leaders in higher education.
Their most recent model code, the one that WSU’s code is based on, is entitled “A Twenty-first Century Model Student Conduct Code” and was published in the Journal of College and University Law in 2004.