The Post: A new student code of conduct, passed by the Board of Trustees, hopes to add clarity and accessibility for OU students

The university will explicitly disclose on its website what sanctions are possible for students charged with cases of misconduct.

The Board of Trustees officially approved the wording change in the Student Code of Conduct. The changes, which are intended to be clearer to students, go into effect Fall Semester 2015, said Martha Compton, director of Community Standards and Student Responsibility.

“This is really the first time the format of the code has changed since the 1970s,” Compton said. “It’s a pretty significant change in terms of structure, format and language.”

Student Senate members asked the university to examine the code of conduct in Spring 2013.

“We had some of these very broad categories that you could fit different behavioral issues within, but to students they weren’t very clear,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for Student Affairs. “Students were saying, ‘OK, enough is enough. We don’t get this; it doesn’t make sense.’ ”

For example, an intoxication citation, considered “mental or bodily harm to one’s self,” will now be an “alcohol charge,” said Jenny Hall-Jones, dean of students.

“(Students) couldn’t find ‘intoxication’ because that’s not how intoxication charges work under our code,” Hall-Jones said. “It was always an explanation and was not clear.”

The change in the code also removed the distinction between “A” level and “B” level offenses, which previously offered different consequences for each charge.

For example, an “A” level charge could mean suspension or expulsion, but expulsion would not typically be on the table for a “B” level charge.

“Almost a thousand students last year were charged with ‘A’ level charges,” Hall-Jones said. “They all got this letter saying they were at risk for suspension or expulsion, and only 35 people were suspended; it was really scaring people that it didn’t need to scare.”

Compton said 98 to 99 percent of students going through the campus’ judicial process wouldn’t be affected.

“Our sanctioning guidelines are not changing –– it’ll just be a different way of thinking about it,” she said.

The university will also put graphics on its website to breakdown the process.

“We’re working on how do we make this process more understandable and less scary for students,” Compton said. “I’m hopeful we can try some different things, like a short video to help students understand what a community standards conference looks like.”

This story also appears on The Post

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