As questions about Student Code of Conduct violations come up, code review process begins

(File Photo by Bailey Britton | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article lacked a proper first reference address for speaker of the student senate and senior in political science and communication studies Nathan Bothwell. The Collegian regrets this error.

The Student Code of Conduct was set to be reviewed in the 2020-2021 school year anyway, but the resurgence of conflicts on social media and other tensions centered around the actions of one student applies new urgency to that task.

“The Student Code of Conduct is mandated to be reviewed every five years, and it coincidentally happens to be this very year that the entire code is being reviewed,” speaker of the student senate and senior in political science and communication studies Nathan Bothwell said via email.

So far, the only items that have discussed are the “optimal timeline” for the revision process and the “membership of the ad hoc committee” that will be proposing revisions, Bothwell said.

Ashton Hess, deputy attorney general of SGA and senior in geography and history, said one of the main focuses for this year’s review is ensuring the ad hoc committee represents all students on campus.

“One of our big focuses for this year is making sure that we’re getting a committee with a lot of voices that are way more representative of our students,” she said. “Especially with where we’re going this year, and where we’re coming from into the Code of Conduct revision. That’s something we’re being really careful on.”

Once the committee is formed, Hess said the group will then go through a basic education process to learn about the Code of Conduct policies before revising it. After that, the committee will gauge students’ opinions regarding the current Code of Conduct and take feedback into consideration when discussing revisions and additions.

Hess said a big focus of the group will be be looking at policies concerning online conduct.

“The conversations that are happening right now at K-State, and especially the conversations that are really being driven by studentathletes, we’re going to be kind of looking into how student conduct ties into those things, and our relationships with other students, how we behave. I think a big focus of ours is going to be looking at online presence,” Hess said.

Although these regulations are in place at other universities, Hess says enforcing them can be difficult due to K-State’s jurisdiction.

“Another thing about K-State that’s kind of tricky right now is our jurisdiction,” she said. “The Student Code of Conduct only has jurisdiction over students on K-State property at K-State specific events and essentially, on K-State accounts. So when we kind of get into online presence and how we’re interacting like on social media, we kind of get into that gray area of our jurisdiction doesn’t really extend to student personal accounts right now. So I think really like evaluating where the university stands with students behavior on social media.”

After the committee has evaluated students’ opinions on campus and has sat down to review and revise the Code of Conduct, they will send it to Thomas Lane, dean of students and vice president for student life, and to the university’s general counsel for approval. According to Hess, they can make any edits they see necessary and send it back to the committee.

“We work with that, and we send it back,” she said. “So until we’ve reached kind of an agreement with general counsel and make sure that what we’re putting out there is, you know, legal, that gets sent to [student senate], and then senate votes.”

If student senate proposes any changes, those changes will go through the same process as the initial revisions did before they can be passed.

To ensure as many students are involved in weighing in on the Code of Conduct, Hess said they are currently considering various options to give students a voice.

I think a big part of that is, as we move through this process, giving weekly updates, like ‘This is what we’re doing,'” Hess said. “‘This is where we’re at in this process’, and making sure that students can also give feedback at this time.”

Hess said any students that have questions regarding the Student Code of Conduct or need assistance in dealing with a certain situation should reach out to her or the Office of Student Life.

“I think definitely if people have any other questions about any of the nuances with like student behavior, policies, please reach out to me, the Office of Student Life,” she said. “If students are having anything going on, they’re receiving threats, they’re receiving harassment, those two things that are bigger need to go to the Office of Student Life.”