Temple University’s University Counsel, a legal advisor to the university, approved two recommendations made by the Student Conduct Code review committee on Jan. 15, said Valerie Harrison, senior advisor to President Richard Englert for equity, diversity and inclusion.
These suggestions, Harrison believes, will encourage the university to respond more effectively to hate speech than it did in the past.
The recommendations now move on to the Executive Vice President and Provost JoAnne Epps and Englert for additional review, Harrison said.
The committee’s specific recommendations will be released after their approval, Dean of Students Stephanie Ives wrote in an email to The Temple News.
After a handful of incidents in June 2020 involving racist comments made online by Temple students, the university was criticized after tweeting that students using “hateful speech” are protected under the Student Conduct Code.
One incident, on June 1, 2020, involved Jimmy Freas, a senior media studies and production major, who posted a video to his Snapchat satirizing George Floyd’s name and criticizing those who protested after Floyd’s death, The Temple News reported.
In a June 7, 2020, announcement addressing the comments, Vice Dean of Student Affairs Theresa Powell and Ives said they would meet with each student involved in the racist incidents, The Temple News reported.
Following the announcement, the university assembled an eight-person committee led by Harrison to make recommendations to modify the Student Conduct Code, The Temple News reported.
The committee consisted of Harrison, Ives, Temple students, representatives from University Counsel, Mark Rahdert, a constitutional law professor from the Beasley School of Law, and Megan Patrick, the assistant dean of students for student conduct and community standards, Ives said.
The original review committee, which began a regular review of the Student Conduct Code in November 2019, was expanded to include students as well as faculty with knowledge in constitutional law to ensure a variety of perspectives and expertise were represented, according to Temple Now.
The committee’s overall responsibility was “extending the review process to explore opportunities for addressing hate speech, racist behavior and other bias incidents that impact the campus community and cause a hostile environment based on a protected class,” Ives said.
The committee, which no longer meets, met regularly throughout the fall semester to gain a better understanding of the constitutional restrictions on public institutions, particularly how these restrictions are interpreted, Harrison said.
Additionally, they looked at other schools for comparison before making their suggested modifications to the current conduct code, Harrison said.