Hearing the Delay

CAMPUS ISSUES: The delayed hearings for students who took part in the protests indicate a lack of communication for all involved.

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When participants in last November's protests were charged with conduct violations in January, few would have guessed that the proceedings would continue on into a new academic year. Yet the fact that the first hearing started less than two weeks ago indicates a troubling breakdown in communication between the Office of Student Conduct and students seeking resolution in their own cases.

It is not entirely clear who is to blame for the months-long delay in this intricate situation. Campus officials, including Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, have said that students requested later hearings because they did not want to have to go back to the campus during the summer. However, critics of the campus reference the campus code of conduct, which indicates that students should be charged within 30 days of misconduct and tried 45 days after being charged.

However, a provision in the code formerly allowed the dean of students to suspend this timeline, and by the summer of 2009 the code had been revised to allow both the dean or a dean's designee to suspend 30 and 45 day requirements. Assistant Dean of Students Christina Gonzales did just that in August of 2009 in response to furloughs implemented across the campus.

Yet a key factor encapsulates the entire miscommunication in these ongoing proceedings: The changes in the code of conduct were not implemented or publicized until spring 2010, since the campus did not want to announce the revisions in the middle of the fall semester. Those who do not know the background and that the timeline was suspended months before protests assumed that the delays are a direct response to the November events. And, quite shortsightedly, the Office of Student Conduct seems to have done little to clarify the situation.

We do not believe that the campus office has drawn out this process maliciously, but those in charge do not seem to have prioritized the issue. Now, there are serious ramifications because a situation that could have been settled expeditiously and with little controversy has now gotten out of control. Students facing hearings are critical of the process, and at least one has not been able to graduate since the conduct cases were still not resolved. Yes, these individuals are facing repercussions for their allegedly inappropriate behavior at protests. This does not mean that they do not deserve a speedy hearing. Indeed, there should be an additional set timeline in the code of conduct for such cases to be resolved.

Communication is always key. We can only hope that the office is now paying full attention to the hearings and the proper procedure to resolve the cases as soon as possible. It just is a shame that this has not been done since day one.

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