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U. suspends Buxton House

Hearing found House responsible for Res. Life violations, unauthorized possession of alcohol

The University has suspended the housing privileges of Buxton International House until fall 2020 after finding the program house had ‘again violated the student code of conduct while on deferred suspension from a previous violation,’ wrote President Christina Paxson P’19 in a Jan. 18 letter addressed to a group of parents of Buxton House students in response to a letter they had sent her.

The University reached this conclusion following a hearing in December 2018 through the Office of Student Conduct that was adjudicated by a panel which included student representation.

Buxton was found responsible for “violation of the operational rules and procedure of Residential Life and unauthorized possession of alcohol,” said Sobhit Singh Arora ’21, the president of the suspended house.

Though Greek and Program Housing groups “self-govern as all recognized student organizations do,” they still must operate “within the framework of University policies and the student conduct code,” wrote Assistant Director for Greek and Program House Engagement Megan Fox in an email to The Herald.

Organizations suspended by the University “lose recognition … and access to University services,” according to the Student Code of Conduct. In addition, organization members “may be removed from Program House space” during the suspension.

While the specifics of hearing proceedings and findings are confidential, Buxton has had “a series of disciplinary infractions over the past three years, and was in a frequent state of conduct review” by the University, Paxson wrote. The House’s previous status of deferred suspension is the “highest level sanction short of suspension.”

“Buxton has a history of student conduct violations. That’s not something I would outwardly deny, because it’s definitely been an issue in the past,” Arora said.

However, despite the House’s history, “we don’t feel like we’ve caused anyone harm with any of the events that have ever occurred. … We really do our best to make sure Buxton is a safe space for not only international (students) but anyone who comes to hang out with us,” he added.

Buxton students were notified of their removal from the campus house on Jan. 15, according to an online petition created by Buxton students protesting the suspension. Affected students were originally given 72 hours after returning to campus for the spring semester to move their belongings out of Buxton and relocate to different University accommodations coordinated through the Office of Residential Life, Arora said.

But the University has since given “significant flexibility in the moving process for those who required time beyond the original 72-hour move-out timeline,” Director of News and Editorial Development Brian Clark wrote in an email to The Herald.

In addition to providing students with moving boxes, ResLife also attempted to “maintain the former living situations within Buxton by keeping roommates together and ensuring that those who received (Student and Employee Accessibility Services) accommodations in Buxton also received SEAS accommodations in their new living situation,” Arora said.

In light of Buxton’s suspension, Arora highlighted his positive experiences in the house. “I’ve learned so much from people just through casual conversations. Everyone just has such a unique exposure and comes from such different backgrounds. … They understand how the world functions outside of the United States. There’s a lot of perspective you gain.”

In the circulating petition decrying their suspension — which currently has over 1,000 signatures — Buxton students wrote that the University’s “decision reflects cruelty and indifference towards the academic, career-related, extracurricular and mental struggles faced by students.”

“The Buxton International House is a community of individuals spanning many countries, backgrounds and identities who have found a safe space to truly be themselves in this house. This may entail (English as a Second Language) students openly being able to ask their peers for grammatical help, dinners to celebrate the Indian cultural festival of Diwali or making arepas in the Buxton kitchen,” students wrote.

In her letter to the parents of Buxton students, Paxson acknowledged the role Buxton played in helping “international students, who find themselves far from home and immersed in a foreign culture,” build “strong and supportive social communities.”

But “the University has no choice but to respect the decision of a Student Conduct panel,” Paxson wrote.

Clarification: A previous version of this article stated that President Christina Paxson P’19 wrote a letter Jan. 18 addressed to the parents of Buxton House students. In fact, the letter was addressed to a group of parents of Buxton House students in response to a letter they sent to her. The Herald regrets the error. 

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