WHAT THE CHANGES MEAN TO YOU
Dean of Students Rob Hradsky said there are no geographic restrictions to AU’s jurisdiction under the new code, meaning that any offense, committed anywhere can be grounds for disciplinary action.
Administrators said the majority of students behave appropriately in the community and will never feel the effects of these changes that were made to deal with persistent and egregious behavior.
“It’s more of a scare tactic than anything else,” said Department of Public Safety Chief Michael McNair said.
For most students, life will go on as usual, Vice President of Campus Life Gail Hanson said.
Department of Public Safety
AU’s Department of Public Safety now has the power to investigate off-campus misconduct without a violation of the law or a formal police citation under the new version of the code.
Officers can now document problems and make referrals to administrators about off-campus student behavior, McNair said.
Previously, Public Safety needed the Metropolitan Police Department to issue a citation before they could further investigate off-campus misconduct, but Public Safety was always able to respond to scenes off-campus without MPD assistance.
Officers can respond to the house in question and knock on a student’s door if a neighbor calls the Public Safety hotline. However, the Public Safety officer must be invited inside. If students do not answer the door, Public Safety can call MPD to respond as well.
Public Safety generally takes the students’ names and information, which is then referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.
The majority of complaints involve excessive noise, which is why MPD is usually slow to respond to calls. Public Safety encourages neighbors to call them directly because the likelihood of MPD officers being available “right off the bat” is low, and Public Safety can respond fairly quickly, McNair said.
Generally, if a neighbor complaint is filed, Hradsky will begin by speaking with the offending student.
“Most complaints are resolved just through a conversation with students and don’t even result in charges. And that’s our goal,” he said. “A lot of times people just need a reminder about expectations.”
But for more persistent or egregious off-campus violations of the code students now can have Student Conduct charges filed against them, which can result in a disciplinary conference or hearing.
“Occasionally, we have situations where students don’t get the message, and we need to have better tools to hold them accountable,” Hradsky said.
Last year, 12 cases were referred to hearings. Of those 12, only three students elected to have a hearing. Two withdrew from AU, and six students waived their hearing for a disciplinary conference instead, according to Hradsky.
In a disciplinary conference, a hearing officer listens to the case, rather than a panel of students, faculty and staff for a full hearing.
Most students prefer the conference, according to Hanson.
The hearing officer or panel makes sanction recommendations if they find the student responsible, and Hradsky makes the final decision.
The changes to the code also lowered the standard for finding students responsible. Before the changes, the panel or hearing officer used the “clear and convincing” standard of proof, where it is more likely than not the defendant is responsible for the alleged action.
But now, there only has to be a “preponderance of evidence,” or 51 percent, which is the lowest standard of proof, Hanson said.
Sanctions are tailored to the offense, Hanson added. They can be anything from writing a paper, restitution, community service, writing an apology to the neighbor, removal from on-campus housing and suspension or dismissal from the University.
If students don’t fulfill their sanctions, a stop may be placed on their registration, Hanson said.
Under the old code, if students chose a conference over a hearing, they had to waive their right to appeal. Under the new code, however, students still retain their right to an appeal if they choose a conference.
But appeals may only be brought on the basis of technical grounds and if the student was removed from housing, suspended or dismissed from the University.
An appeals board checks to make sure there is merit to the appeal, and Hanson makes the final decision.