Hundreds of disciplinary infractions detailed in report

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Thursday, December 7, 2006

Nearly 600 cases of violations to the University’s non-academic code were processed in the last academic year, 14 more than in 2004-2005, according to a University report released Sept. 8.

Five of last year’s most serious cases were tried by deans at University Administrative Hearings, at which a student faces suspension or expulsion.

One such case involved non-consensual physical conduct of a sexual nature and resulted in a one-semester suspension and a transcript entry, according to the report. Another case, involving underage drinking and destruction of personal property, resulted in probation, regular meetings with a chemical dependency dean and restitution.

A student found guilty of possession of a weapon and drinking alcohol underage received deferred suspension, regular meetings with the discipline dean and parental notification.

Two students who shot plastic pellets out a window at a passing student were also given deferred suspension, along with regular meetings with the discipline dean and parental notification.

Non-academic code violations are grouped into two categories based on severity. Less severe violations may result in mediation, a warning or a conference with a dean. More severe violations or repeat offenses may result in probation, suspension or separation from the University.

According to the report released by the Office of Student Life, 596 cases were resolved last year, of which 359 fell in the more severe category.

In the 2004-2005 school year, 586 cases were processed. The number and severity of non-academic code violations has stayed fairly consistent from year to year, said Margaret Klawunn, associate vice president for campus life and dean for student life.

Violations that do not warrant expulsion or permanent record notation are processed through Dean’s Hearings. Typical incidents of this kind include underage alcohol consumption, petty theft, vandalism, possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia or repeat minor offenses, such as computing violations. There were 333 Dean’s Hearings last year, most of which resulted in a reprimand or probation. There were 250 such cases in the 2004-2005 school year.

The Peer Community Standards Board, which deals with minor or first violations of University policy, such as noise complaints, fire safety violations and unauthorized social functions, saw 17 cases last year. Most were settled with a reprimand. Other sanctions from this board included fines, restitution, counseling and reflective essay assignments.

Three student organizations were tried for violations of University policy last year. One group was put on probation, while another was given an official reprimand. The other investigation is still ongoing.

The OSL is conducting a media campaign to inform students about their rights and responsibilities and the repercussions of violating University policy. There is a lack of understanding among students about the purpose of disciplinary hearings and of sanctions for violations, Klawunn said. “The intent is as an educational process, not a legal process,” she said.

Two students interviewed by The Herald said they believe there is a need for better publication of Brown’s non-academic rules.

“I don’t really know about (the policies),” Arielle Rames ’07 said. “I know a lot more about the academic rules here,” she added.

“They need to make the information more available,” Shelley Lei ’07 said.

Still, some students said they think the OSL is doing its job. “They presented the information at Orientation, and it’s the students’ job to listen,” Melissa Diaz ’10 said.

Klawunn said the OSL plans to review the University Disciplinary Council process. Students facing expulsion may opt to plead their case to a board of students, faculty and staff trained by the OSL instead of attending a University Administrative Hearing. No cases were tried by the UDC last year.

“People have volunteered, are trained and are ready to serve, and they are not being utilized,” Klawunn said.

The full report is available at brown.edu/randr/notification.html.

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