Student Code of Conduct Gets an Overhaul

The MSU Spokesman

codeofconduct2At a recent campus meeting about updating the code of conduct, students and university officials paid little attention to President David Wilson’s proposal concerning off-campus behavior. Some students seemed more concerned about plans to notify parents when they misbehave.

“This is pretty significant change to the code,” said Seymour E. Chambers, the university’s chief judicial officer, who explained that the notifications would focus on drug and alcohol violations.

The code, last updated in 2002, was designed to establish guidelines and rules to ensure proper order at the university. The Office of Student Judicial Affairs, where Chambers works, is responsible for managing and directing the university’s efforts regarding student conduct. President Wilson and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Kevin M. Banks have worked with Chambers on the revision of the code.

Another significant change to the code of conduct is language dealing with sexual misconduct, rape and illegal recordings of the acts committed on campus.

“The changes sound good until they start talking about getting people’s parents involved,” said James Peterson, a 23-year-old senior majoring in education who was one of about 20 students who attended the Apr. 18 meeting. Peterson said he became interested in the new Student Code of Conduct after reading an article in the Spokesman. “I am grown and I don’t need people contacting people about something that [has] to do with me, even if it is my parents.”

Marcus Woods, a 21-year-old junior political science major who was also at the meeting, thought the changes were fine. “Good,” he said about the proposal to notify parents. “I mean, that makes you wonder why things like this are not already in the student code of conduct.”

One thing that was not presented as a possible change was  President Wilson’s plan to hold students accountable for behaviors off campus.

“We want to make sure that our students are understanding that there are certain behaviors at Morgan that we simply will not accept and we will not tolerate. And so, as you live in the communities and you engage in certain behaviors that are destructive, we’re looking at our code of conduct to see how that code of conduct could be crafted in a way where it would cover not just those activities that occur on the campus itself, but also those that occur beyond the confines of the community,”  Wilson said at a town-hall style meeting with Morgan’s neighbors in April.

“That part of the proposal is still being worked on,” said Chambers. “I will tell students one thing: The current code does have a section already in place that allows us to punish students’ violent acts committed off campus.”

He referred to that part of the code in a section called “Inherent Authority.” It reads:  “Charges of violating a local ordinance, state or federal law may subject the student to disciplinary action by the University when said violations occur on campus on University owned property, during an activity sanctioned by the University, when behavior on or off campus adversely affects the University’s educational mission, and/or constitutes a substantial and/or continuing danger to the safety or property of the University or members of the University community….”

Chambers said that these changes are still going through the appropriate internal processes. They have to be presented to the Board of Regents in August. The 15-member board appoints the university president; sets admission standards; and reviews and approves university policies and budgets.

Chambers said that he and university officials hope to unveil the new code at the beginning of the fall semester.

If students have any questions or concerns, they can stop by the Office of Student Affairs, located in Room 205 Truth Hall. They can call also contact Chambers at 443-885-3527 or [email protected].