Trustees approve changes in code of conduct

By Daniel J. Fitzgibbons

Several changes in Code of Student Conduct (CSC), including parental notification for violations of alcohol and drug policies by minors, were approved by the Board of Trustees during its May 5 meeting at the Mullins Center. The changes will become effective at the beginning of the 2004-05 academic year.

The amendments, which were proposed by Chancellor John V. Lombardi, also include more specific language in parts of the code dealing with endangering behavior and dangerous weapons. All of the changes were previously reviewed and approved by the Student Affairs Judicial Issues Committee, University counsel, dean of students and the vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life, according to a March 26 memo from Lombardi to President Jack M. Wilson.

The beefed-up parental notification provisions, said Lombardi''s memo, "will add a further consequence and intervention to our alcohol/drug sanctioning program" without violating federal privacy regulations. The Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act, known as the Buckley Amendment, allows parental notification for violations of rules governing the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances.

Under the previous campus policy, parents of dependent students under 21 were only notified if a judicial proceeding involving alcohol or controlled substance violations resulted in a sanction of housing removal, suspension or expulsion.

Under the changes adopted by the trustees, parental notification will result when a student under 21 is found guilty of any of the following: possession of a keg or large volume of alcohol, dispensing alcohol to a minor, or possession or distribution of controlled substances.

In addition, second offenses of underage possession of alcohol or having an open container of alcohol in an open space will also trigger parental notification for minor students.

The CSC also allows University officials to waive parental notification "in unusual circumstances if a student makes a bona fide showing that such notification will create significant hardship."

The endangering behavior section of the CSC was expanded to cover actions by individual students who are part of a group disturbing the peace. The new language specifically identifies behavior such as violence, damage to property, stealing or looting, setting fires, throwing bottles or projectiles, interfering with emergency personnel or equipment, obstructing traffic and refusing to disperse when ordered. According to Lombardi''s memo, the more specific wording will allow University officials to charge students that engage in riotous behavior and public disturbances that may not be formally categorized as a "riot."

Trustees also approved additional provisions to the portion of the code governing possession of fireworks, firearms and other hazardous or dangerous weapons. The revised version also covers facsimiles of weapons that might be construed as capable of firing projectiles or are capable of firing.

Passed by the Board of Trustees in 1994, the campus''s Code of Student Conduct governs all undergraduates, graduate students living in University housing, and fraternities, sororities and registered student organizations.