For an hour and a half on Tuesday afternoon, University of Nebraska-Lincoln students voiced their suggestions and concerns about revisions to the Student Code of Conduct at a feedback session in the Nebraska Union.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jake Johnson presented the proposed changes he and his team have made to the Student Code of Conduct, including adjustments to the section on the misuse of alcohol and other substances and what constitutes the borders of “on-campus.” These edits have been underway since July 2019, and representatives from all University of Nebraska campuses have been involved.
A group of students, comprised mostly of members of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, came to offer their feedback. For the new code to be installed, it has to pass through several layers of approval, including ASUN.
Many students raised concerns about what constituted as off-campus behavior that the university could prosecute a student for. Jacob Gideon, a junior computer science and finance double major, questioned whether the language used in the code would allow a conduct officer to make a case against a student for posting a picture online with alcohol while under the legal drinking age.
For a student offense to have an impact on the institution, Johnson said it usually has to be tied directly to the university, such as drinking while on a university-sponsored trip. He also said that while the language of the code might make it applicable to certain cases of off-campus substance use, offenses such as minor in possession and driving under the influence are not going to be the Office of Student Affairs’ top priority.
Another section that raised some questions had to do with misuse of alcoholic beverages. The draft as it stands would allow the UNL Police Department to hold any student responsible for being intoxicated while near campus, not just on university property. The code language defines no clear definition for being near campus.
“I think that this is just one of the provisions that is uniquely, explicitly prohibiting what could be potentially legal conduct,” Gideon said.
Johnson defended this revision, saying the university wants to encourage healthy, responsible behavior and discourage substance abuse among all students.
“Go to O Street; students are intoxicated everywhere, perhaps completely irresponsibly, but entirely within their rights to be so,” Gideon said in response.
Another possible addition to the code is applying the conduct to people who have paid their enrollment deposit fee, in addition to current students.
Other changes included the removal of “you” as a second-person pronoun in favor of “students,” and the replacement of any gendered pronouns such as “he/she” with “they” to be more inclusive.
Taylor Jarvis, a sophomore accounting and economics double major, asked Johnson how the Student Conduct staff ensures students know about the code of conduct, and said that when she was a freshman, she had no idea it existed. Johnson responded that they usually try to educate based on affinity group, such as attending residence hall and Greek life meetings.
“I’m in a sorority, and I lived in a residence hall, and I didn’t know about [the Student Code of Conduct],” Jarvis said. “If I wasn’t an ASUN senator, I wouldn’t know about it.”
Johnson took note of the students’ concerns and said he plans to take the suggestions and complaints back to the drafting group to see what they could do about them.
“We want to get it right,” Johnson said. “We want to have a document that’s going to pass muster for you all.”