In this week’s issue, we brought to light the cases of two Temple students, both with no prior criminal records, who received sanctions by the University Disciplinary Committee.
The UDC, it is important to note, is not a legal committee. It does not determine if a student has broken a law. What it does determine is if students have committed a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and sanctions them accordingly.
The cases of these two students are vastly different, and their sanctions – expulsion for one, community service and disciplinary probation the other – were different as well. But, we feel that there is a strong similarity in both cases.
That similarity is the UDC’s harsh and unreasonable application of the code of conduct, and its seeming lack of desire to hear the students’ sides of the arguments.
With Kevin Furey’s case, members of the UDC panel ridiculed his claim that he believed the group of young men approaching him at 3:30 a.m. in a dangerous neighborhood was a gang. They also grilled Furey’s friend as to why he would need to get into his own bedroom.
With Brian Romanelli’s case, it was simply the UDC following the letter of the code of conduct, with no regard to its spirit. There is no reason why a student taking pictures – for a class, nonetheless – of Temple police officers making an arrest should be punished with disciplinary probation and community service.
Romanelli committed no legal crime whatsoever. However, due to a section of the code that stipulates that a student must heed an authority figure, the panel decided to give Romanelli a serious blemish on his record.
It would be one thing if, when the cops wrote him up, the UDC would have listened to the two stories and let Romanelli off with a warning or a reminder to give police officers their space when making an arrest. But they didn’t.
The UDC is a necessary body that does good work most of the time. But it needs to be reined in.
These decisions are an embarrassment to Temple and a slap in the face to the aforementioned Temple students, who were poster children for Temple’s allure before their run-ins with the UDC. Student Affairs should oversee the panels more closely to make sure they are giving Temple students the fair chance they deserve, instead of a deaf ear and a heavy-handed sanction.