Student Conduct Violations Set to Change

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The Office of Student Conduct will undergo various changes after numerous complaints from faculty and students regarding the office's handling of alleged student conduct violations this academic year.

According to a letter issued by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Harry Le Grande Monday, students under interim suspensions will no longer be prohibited from speaking to anyone within the campus community, students will be provided with more specific descriptions of their charges and students charged during the "Open University" demonstration on Dec. 11 will have their cases dropped.

In addition, complainants will no longer be copied on the office's correspondence with students, and staff members from the Center for Student Conduct will no longer present evidence to hearing panels while, at the same time, serving as the due process consultant.

A task force of students, faculty and staff will be appointed to examine the current code of student conduct and propose possible revisions to George Breslauer, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost.

"There are concessions made (in the letter) and it's obvious that the university has begun to acknowledge some of the faults in the system, but much of the wording makes it sound like there has been a substantial change when its really the university standing by the policy," said Callie Maidhof, a UC Berkeley doctoral student who was charged with conduct violations for her involvement in protests last semester. "We are still going to fight this."

In the past month, the ACLU of Northern California, Oakland-based law firm Siegel & Yee and UC Berkeley faculty have written letters to the Office of Student Conduct and Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, condemning the current process for student conduct violations.

The letters have focused primarily on the way in which evidence is presented and the way in which students may use counsel during conduct hearings. Each letter has said the standard of proof used to determine conduct sanctions is not sufficient and that students do not receive adequate counsel during hearings.

However, Le Grande said the campus will continue its current policies regarding evidence and counsel for students and will not consider revising these policies until the task force deliberates.

"People are trying to put the student conduct in the same realm as a criminal case," he said. "If people have their minds made up about the code, it will be difficult to change that."

The task force will be appointed and begin to the examine the code at the beginning of next semester and is expected to complete its analysis by the end of spring semester 2011, according to Le Grande.


Emma Anderson is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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