A Student Conduct Code change was recently proposed that would include an updated policy holding student groups liable for any conduct they direct, sponsor or endorse that violates the University's conduct code. The groups would also be held liable if a student group's officers fail to prevent misconduct that occurs during a group event. Previously, student groups were exempt from such punitive actions. Over the past few weeks, many students have become frustrated with the potential implications of this change in the conduct code. Their frustrations mainly arise from the impact it will have on student protest.
We believe the frustrations that students have on this proposed policy are severely misplaced. If anything, students should be protesting the usage of disruptive behavior on the SCC. Rejecting this policy will not fix the issues with the code, and will not yield the results that concerned students want.
The term “disruptive behavior” is utilized verbatim in the SCC. To summarize, the SCC defines disruptive behavior as the disruption of any normal operation of the University, violation of individual rights including the freedom of movement or disturbance of authorized University activities. We believe that this definition is still vague and has been enforced with various degrees of consistency. Just in the past few years, various notable campus student groups and students, including the previous presidents and vice presidents of student government, have led protests against the administration. Many students have also protested Board of Regents meetings. Hardly any punitive action has been yielded in many cases, which makes the enforcement for such a policy very unpredictable. This should be explicitly outlined and detailed.
More importantly, this policy against disruptive behavior has very little to do with the proposed change in the SCC. This policy not only applies to the SCC in this instance — it is applied to all cases of sexual assault, violence and other gross violations of the SCC. Concerned students ought to be protesting the established clause of disruptive behavior, not the recommended policy change.
Unfortunately, many students have not taken the time to understand the real implications of the change in the SCC, and the root cause of their concerns. Changes to the language of parts of the SCC, especially around permissible types of protesting, ought to be a priority for students on campus and the University. This will help ensure a level of consistency. But this is neither the time nor the place to debate this issue. The policy issues with disruptive behavior have existed for quite some time, and will probably continue unless students focus on the real problem. We believe that the Board of Regents should pass this change to the SCC, and listen to student concerns about the separate issue of the permissibility of protest and disruptive behavior.