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University policy targets derecognized group activity

New Code of Student Conduct prohibits student participation in derecognized groups

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 10, 2019

In an effort to decrease incidents of “risky behavior,” including hazing and alcohol consumption, the University’s 2019-20 Code of Student Conduct prohibits participation in derecognized student groups.

Derecognized student are “groups, teams, or organizations that have had their University recognition suspended or permanently revoked by the University for disciplinary reasons,” according to the Code of Student Conduct. Participation includes joining, rushing, pledging or “being involved in any activity that would normally be associated with being a member of such an organization.” Any organization created by members of a derecognized group “in an attempt to continue its presence on campus” constitutes a violation of the code as well.

The rule changes arrive as University officials begin to acknowledge the continued activity of derecognized groups on campus. “We know about the Lantern. We’ve known since the beginning, but we haven’t been able to address it since we don’t know who’s in it,” according to Yolanda Castillo-Appollonio, senior associate dean of students and director of student conduct and community standards. Lantern, a group of students, is known on campus for its association with the fraternity Phi Psi. The fraternity was banned by the University in 2015, The Herald previously reported. A member of Lantern did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The policy change also follows the suspension of two prominent student groups within the last year. The University suspended Buxton International House in January 2019 for a series of Code of Student Conduct violations, including “violation of the operational rules and procedure of Residential Life and unauthorized possession of alcohol,” The Herald previously reported. In September, Sigma Chi fraternity lost University recognition for a period of five years following a March 2019 incident that involved both hazing and alcohol violations, The Herald previously reported.

The OSCCS’s official complaint filing system is currently the only method the office has to regulate student participation in derecognized student groups. For the office to know of a student’s membership in an unrecognized student group, OSCCS would have to receive a formal complaint about their participation.

The consequences of affiliating with a derecognized student group would depend on the specific circumstances of each situation and could range from a reprimand to an expulsion, Castillo-Appollonio said. “If you are found responsible for any (prohibited) behavior, the range is from reprimand up to expulsion,” she said.

But expulsion would only be considered for the most serious of disciplinary cases, Castillo-Appollonio said. Expulsion goes against the OSCCS’s philosophy as an “educational entity” of the University. The OSCCS often addresses conduct violations through restorative justice, a process that “focuses on bringing responsible parties and harmed parties together in facilitated dialogue about incidents that have caused harm,” according to the OSCCS website.

“When an organization is derecognized and is continuing to perpetuate some of their behaviors off campus and without any oversight,” there could be a heightened risk to the health and safety of students, Castillo-Appollonio said. “Thinking about our concerns regarding the health and safety of students, we wanted to put (a policy) in place to help mitigate that.”

The new prohibited behavior is one of several policy changes made to the University’s Code of Student Conduct for the 2019-2020 academic year, which the Corporation approved last spring in accordance with a University-mandated code review, said Castillo-Appollonio. This review is undertaken every five years by the Committee to review the Code of Student Conduct, which includes student representation and a representative from the Office of the General Counsel, Castillo-Appollonio said. After drafting a new Code of Student Conduct, the OSCCS presented the proposed changes to the Undergraduate Council of Students, the Graduate Student Council and the Greek Council last spring, she added.

“Sometimes our policies will be more restrictive to student behavior,” Castillo-Appollonio said. “Our values are our values and that’s what we’re going to uphold as an institution.”

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