New code of conduct for UW

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Watch out troublemakers. Not only for my column in tomorrow’s Herald, which will instruct you on how to legally make trouble in the dorms (only good, safe trouble), but for the new code of conduct approved by the University of Wisconsin System board of regents.

Under the revised code, off-campus student misconduct does not need to be criminal to be punishable by the university. UW-Madison also gained the authority to sanction students in a manner independent of any ongoing criminal investigations.

Berquam said the precise meaning of the controversial “substantial university interest” standard had not been settled, even though the change is already in effect.

At least Berquam is being honest. Nevertheless, this is a sad day for student rights. Campus officials seem incredulous that students would demand strict standards for a discipline policy, such as rules governing what students can be punished for and how. They expect students to simply trust them.

The university is a governing institution. It should be expected to act like one. It oversees over 40,000 students as well as thousands of faculty and staff members. The good will of a motherly dean does not suffice when it comes to dolling out sanctions that could be as serious as suspension or expulsion.

However, what is equally important is the prospects of double-jeopardy posed to many students who get in trouble with the city, mainly because of underage drinking. Once kids are out of the dorms they should be free of that overbearing fear of having their educational future threatened because they get caught with a beer.

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One Response to “New code of conduct for UW”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    You’re forgetting two things.

    First, the code of conduct specifies that in order to be punished for off campus violations they need to be both serious and repeated. While hypothetically these could be noncriminal offenses, I have a hard time believing that any noncriminal offenses, like underage drinking would qualify as serious. And even then, they still have to be repeated.

    Secondly, the driving force behind the changes were Milwaukee residents who lived close to UWM. No one was in Madison was calling for the UW to punish students for off campus offenses like in Milwaukee. Our administration certainly faces less pressure from the community to punish students. This also makes it much less likely that our administration will even find out about off campus offenses. Unless Lori starts having someone go through the list of people charged with crimes in Madison every day and cross check it with the list of students, I don’t think it will be very likely that our administration even finds out about most lower end of the spectrum trouble students cause with the city. Also, considering how many students likely won’t even realize this is the new policy, I’d be surprised if many Madison residents will know that telling the UW could do anything about students causing them trouble.

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