Student Judicial Services may wipe some discipline records

Existing discipline records may be reevaluated or wiped clean as the University finishes the revamping of its judiciary system this fall, complete with new standards for some common transgressions.

Disciplinary records will be translated to the new standard on a case-by-case basis, allowing previously ineligible students who had minor drug violations to possibly study abroad, join NCAA athletics teams and apply for Colonial Cabinet, house staff and Presidential Administrative Fellow positions.

“This is an updated approach. I think it’s more thoroughly educational,” Assistant Dean of Students and Head of the former Student Judicial Services Tara Pereira said.

Minor violations will more often result in a conversation with a peer educator instead of a disciplinary record, Pereira said.

“All of the typical college student behaviors are being ratcheted down in response, whereas the things that are most detrimental to one’s own and other people’s health and safety are not changing,” Pereira said.

She emphasized that the new system is more flexible, but not more lax.

Students with fake IDs, minor drug or alcohol charges could see their records wiped, but Pereira stressed that each record would be examined individually.

“It won’t be automatic. It will happen when appropriate,” Pereira said of translating records. She was unsure how many students could potentially see clean records.

Students can now play a role in determining their own punishment to increase the experience’s individual value, Pereira said. This will allow students to take alcohol education classes or volunteer to raise awareness in exchange for commuted probation sentences.

“My hope is that [the change] will decrease nervousness of coming into SJS and increase the education absorbed into the student from the conversation and from the experience,” Pereira said.

After a yearlong project to revamp the disciplinary division, Student Judicial Services dissolved and officially reformed Monday as two new departments – the Office of Civility and Community Standards and the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities – aimed at more effectively responding to behavioral incidents with education before punishment for minor violations.

“By making these changes at this time in this way, we get back to the cutting edge of progressive educational discipline that a lot of universities are looking towards,” Pereira said.

The newly formed Office of Civility and Community Standards will handle what Pereira called “typical college student behaviors,” including possession of a fake ID and hosting a party. Katie Walrod Porras, assistant director at the former SJS, will head the community standards office.

Fourteen volunteer peer educators will play a large role in the new civility department, which Pereira estimated will handle 85 percent of violations.

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities will discipline the more severe behavioral issues that may result in loss of housing, suspension or expulsion, including violence, sexual assault, possession of large quantities of drugs and repeat offences. Associate Director of Student Judicial Services Gabriel Slifka will lead the student rights office.

When referring cases to the new offices, administrators will consider a student’s behavioral history and the severity of the offense.

“There is a gray area. There’s no way human behavior is going to let us get around that. So we’re going to try to put as many parameters in place for the most typical behaviors,” Pereira said.

The offices will hold several town hall meetings in September and October to explain the changes.

“There’s a lot less paper and a lot more heart,” Pereira said.

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