Ask any student on Main Campus about the university’s new code of conduct, and you may receive a blank stare, a shrug or some combination of the two.
The Office of the Dean of Students, however, expects to change this reaction, with the release of the modified code last Tuesday, Sept. 8.
The revamped regulations lay the groundwork for appropriate student behavior and state the rights of the student body. The code has been in the works since February of this year, said Associate Dean of Students and Code Administrator Andrea Caporale Seiss.
Structural changes made this year, including an overall decrease in word count, are intended to persuade more students to familiarize themselves with the code – which received its first major revisions since 2004.
“We realized that students just weren’t reading it from front to back,” Caporale Seiss said. “I think that the new code is much more reader friendly.”
According to Caporale Seiss, those involved in the adjustments invested much of their time and energy into the extensive process, which includes a member of the University Council taking a draft of the document to faculty committees, student groups through Temple Student Government and students who have previously sat on disciplinary boards for input.
It was then approved by the University Council, Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico and President Ann Weaver Hart. Students can access the code on the Office of the Dean of Students’ Web site.
“I’ve heard of it,” freshman Hillary Gargel said. “But I don’t think many people know all the bits and pieces of the code that actually apply to them, especially freshmen.”
The Office of the Dean of Students’ staff members are working to change this situation by developing new tactics, including attaching a booklet that urges students to check out the new code to the free movie tickets that the office distributes. They also sent an e-mail to students, containing information about the updated code, with the advertisement of the free tickets.
“We’re working on some other things here and there and as we get feedback from students,” Caporale Seiss said. “We want to do anything we can do to get the message out that even if you’ve already read the code once, you need to re-read it.”
Many students, including Gargel, have their own ideas about the significance of the code.
“I guess the code of conduct is a set of rules to follow,” Gargel, a biochemistry major, said. “I don’t think it will affect me personally because I’m well aware of my boundaries and what I basically should and should not do.”
The office expects to change the way students think of the code, by dispelling many common misconceptions.
“I want students not to think of it as a set of rules that they can’t do,” Caporale Seiss said. “It’s really about setting community standards and letting students know what their rights are.”
Students will be held responsible for familiarizing themselves with the code. Whether a student knows it or not, he or she can receive disciplinary action for breaking the regulations.
“Saying that you’re unaware of the code is not a defense or an excuse,” Caporale Seiss said. “We tell them that at the orientations. Transfer students even have to answer a question about it during their online orientation.”
Some students, including Gargel, find this policy to be unjust.
“I wouldn’t think it was fair to be punished without being aware of the code. It’s not like it’s well advertised,” she said.
Other students disagreed with this idea.
“I think they do need to try and get more students to learn about it,” junior accounting major Eric Conklin said. “But I still think every student should be held responsible for their own behavior.”
Brieanna Ogletree, a freshman biology major, said she agreed.
“If you were to break the rules, but you’ve never actually seen them,” Ogletree said, “how can you be held responsible?”
Time will tell whether or not students will become acquainted with the new Student Code of Conduct.
“I hope everybody at least skims through it,” Caporale Seiss said, “so that they get an idea of what their rights are as students.”
Melissa Nowicki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.