''U'' code of conduct revised

BY ANNA CLARK
Daily News Writer
Published February 8, 2001

After more than a year of tweaking and reworking, University President Lee Bollinger accepted 40 of the 47 revisions to the Student Code of Conduct recommended by the Student Relations Advisory Committee.

The changes were a fusion of two proposals from the Michigan Student Assembly and the Civil Liberties Board.

SRAC Chairman Alphonse Burdi, a biology professor, said the changes were long overdue.

"This is coming after a year of hard work," Burdi said. "I"m proud of the committee for being so open on something that is so embedded and meshed in the lives of students."

Among the more notable alterations is the renaming of the Code as the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Other changes include:

n If more than one student is charged for the same incident, the students may choose whether they have the same arbitration instead of a Resolution Coordinator making the decision for them.

n Details and results of past cases will be available to the student panelists and resolution officers to ensure consistency with the treatment of similar incidents.

n If a student is being charged in a criminal or civil case for the same incident the University is investigating and wants to delay the University process, the student may now appeal the previously automatic suspension which was imposed until the external case was finished.

The complete list of code changes, which will take effect July 1, is available online at www.umich.edu/oscr.

The revised Statement adapts the former Code"s role as a governing document for University student behavior on and off campus. It is intended to create "the best learning environment for our students," according to a written statement from University Vice President for Student Affairs Royster Harper.

Harper sent an e-mail to all students detailing some of the Code changes last night.

Keith Elkin, director of the Office for Student Conflict Resolution, which implements the Statement, emphasized that the document is grounded in educational principles.

"This is to get students to really think about their behavior in a community and to see how it affects the community," he said. "The other aspect is safety. We need to protect the community members."

Students can submit written complaints about other students to the University"s Office of Conflict Resolution, Elkin said. After extensive investigation, OSCR may decide that a student is in violation of the Statement and take action, which may involve a hearing before a student panel.

There were 105 written complaints submitted to OSCR in the 2000 calendar year, Elkin said.

"This is not superfluous window-dressing," he said of the changes. "Everything we want to emphasize really is on students and student learning."

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said SRAC"s use of public sessions to hear the opinions of students on potential revisions set the "underlying theme" for the Statement.

"Students are the heart of this," Peterson said. "The Code is a living document. Students were a part of these changes and they can work with MSA and the committee if they want further changes."

According to a University Board of Regents bylaw, proposals for changes in the Code must come through MSA, the Senate Assembly or University executive officers. SRAC must review the proposals, consult with the other groups, and recommend a proposal to the University president, who makes the final decisions.