Oct. 24, 2005
By Rachel Byers
Before first-year students move into their cramped dorm rooms and attend their first college classes, Ohio University asks them to read the Student Code of Conduct so they can become a vital part of the learning community. However, most students have not read it. If students do read the Code of Conduct, it is usually only after they have been reprimanded for breaking a rule they never knew existed.
Basically, the Student Code of Conduct is a set of policies and procedures that encourage a friendly and responsible learning environment. The list of behavior expectations reaches beyond university boundaries to apply both on- and off- campus. Additionally, the Code of Conduct allows Ohio University to review and discipline student violations of federal, state and local laws.
To ensure the Student Code of Conduct is applied fairly, University Judiciaries looks after student rights. Located in Baker University Center, the Judiciaries staff helps students work through violations and provides a supportive educational environment for offenders.
"The Judiciaries is here because we care about the greater good," says J. Malcolm Smith, interim director of University Judiciaries. "We try to keep the environment safe and conducive to academic goals. We help students make responsible, intelligent choices."
Smith explains that the average student is not directly affected by the Student Code of Conduct because few break university rules. In 2004, less than 10 percent of the student body was involved in University Judiciary procedures. About 70 percent of the 1,577 violations involved alcohol, including underage consumption and public intoxication.
Even though most students behave responsibly, some parts of the Student Code of Conduct should be understood by all. One important section explains that students are expected to be conscientious community members, both within the campus and within the city of Athens.
"Students and student organizations are expected to be responsible members of a diverse community," states the Student Code of Conduct, "and to honor and respect differences of culture, lifestyle and religion."
This is especially important since weekend disturbances that occurred last month have greatly affected university and city relations. The Student Code of Conduct forbids civil disturbances described as disturbing the peace and failure to comply with law enforcement officials. Students who participate in disorderly conduct destroy the valued student-community relationship and they risk university discipline.
Disciplinary sanctions occur in four different levels. The first level is a reprimand, an official notification of wrongdoing. The second, disciplinary probation, is a sanction that varies with the violation and can place restrictions on participation in university activities. A more serious violation may require suspension or even expulsion -- a permanent removal from the university.
The Student Code of Conduct does not exist to punish wrongdoings, but to ensure that students have a safe and rewarding experience at Ohio University. To make the best of their time in Athens, all students should give reading the Code of Conduct another try.
Rachel Byers is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.