Changes to Student Code of Conduct clarified

Alex Stevens, Political Columnist

As reported last week, Oakland University’s Student Code of Conduct was updated over the summer.

Zack Thomas, president of OU Student Congress (OUSC), outlined the revision process.

Thomas, along with Student Activities Funding Board Chairman Jorge Garcia and OUSC Student Services Director Margaret Merogi, was asked to review some of the changes to the code.

“We were active during the summer,” Thomas said.  “At some point during the summer, I believe it was in June, we were approached by the dean of students office’s Mike Wadsworth, who told us they were thinking about updating our Student Code of Conduct to reflect a new focus on community standards.”

Documents provided by Thomas show that the student representatives suggested changes to various aspects of the code during their review.

Most notably, the student representatives were concerned about students receiving advanced notice regarding the time, date and location of hearings when they are charged with a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Another area of concern was an inquiry as to why students do not serve on sexual misconduct cases, which are pursued through university conduct hearings.

Thomas said the Office of the Dean of Students adopted almost all of the student representatives’ suggestions for the changes to be made to the Student Code of Conduct.

“The only one that didn’t change, to my knowledge, was the medical amnesty part,” Thomas said. “Medical amnesty is required in instances where someone is very drunk and it is turning into a medical emergency. You may call a police department, and you can have the punishments waived in order to incentivize people to get help.

“Just because it is against the law [to punish people in these instances] that does not mean it is against [university] policy. So, students can still be disciplined by the university in these instances [based on the current Student Code of Conduct]. We saw this as a deterrent for individuals to call law enforcement because they can still get in trouble, so we fought back on that.”

As reported last week, some of the changes that were made to the Student Code of Conduct concerned campus speech and the distribution of materials on campus. Thomas explained that just because these sections were removed from the Student Code of Conduct, it does not mean that they are not still policies at OU.

These policies still exist under OU Policies 640 and 415, respectively, which are not changed or overridden by the updated Student Code of Conduct. Students are still bound to these policies, although they no longer appear in the Student Code of Conduct.

“We were not presented with the university ordinances for review,” Thomas said. “Those policies are still available online and they are still enforced. Even though these university policies were taken out of the Student Code of Conduct, I assume it was due to redundancy and they are still in effect.”

Although there was no formal notification by OU to the entire student body or faculty that changes were being made to OU’s Student Code of Conduct, Thomas explained that the topic was discussed during an OUSC meeting over the summer that was open to the public.

When asked why OUSC didn’t announce the changes, Thomas said, “In a public meeting, where students are allowed to be in the gallery and talk to their student representatives, we presented that the changes were going to happen, and, if you wanted to be a part of the review process, you could do that.

“We acted on behalf of students because that is our elected job. We cannot publish every single thing we do on social media. I feel that we adequately made the announcement that the Student Code of Conduct was going to be changed through our public meetings that students are encouraged to attend.”

The newly updated Student Code of Conduct can be found on OU’s website.