At the beginning of the fall semester, the University implemented a new point system intended to increase transparency in the disciplinary process. The change was a collaborative effort between the administration and students.
“The decision to look at ways to clarify the judicial outcomes initially came from the Student Judicial Process Committee (SJPC),” Assistant Director of the Office of Student Affairs/Deans’ Office Jonathan Connary wrote in an email to The Argus. “The proposal was then vetted by students, [and] faculty advisors to the Student Judicial Board (SJB), and administrators.”
The SJPC is made up of students from the SJB and the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA).
Under this new ten-point system, students found in violation of the Code of Non-Academic Conduct (CNAC) by the SJB will receive a certain number of points, which corresponds to the student’s offense. For instance, a student found in violation for underage possession or use of alcohol (Regulation 13b in the 2012-2013 Student Handbook
will receive between one and three points, depending on the severity of the specific incident. A student found guilty of sexual assault or sexual misconduct (Regulation 3) will receive between five and ten points.
“The points were intended to make what we acknowledge can be a daunting process more understandable,” Connary wrote.
A student who accumulates ten points will be subject to suspension or dismissal from the University. With fewer than ten points, students may be subject to other consequences, such as losing an on-campus job, the ability to study abroad, or the ability to participate in certain campus groups.
Points carry over from one academic year to the next. However, if over a period of six months the student does not receive any additional points, one point will be subtracted from their total.
A student who is accused of violating a regulation will have a hearing and potentially receive a sanction, as has occurred in the past.
“The judicial process has not changed,” Connary wrote. “Students will still go through the same process to have allegations of CNAC violations resolved. What has changed is to add more information available to all students in an effort to better inform them about potential outcomes from hearings.”
According to the Student Handbook, students with up to four points are issued a disciplinary warning. A total accumulation of between five and ten points will result in a student being placed on disciplinary probation.
After multiple hearings with the SJB during the last academic year, Zoe Turner ’15 is relieved by the clarity of the new system. With seven points currently on her record, she explained that she now knows where she stands with the University.
“I think that it is a more progressive approach to the system of discipline,” Turner said. “In some ways, last year it was very vague. Once you get to my position within the system, you become anxious not knowing what the next disciplinary action could be.”
According to Connary, feedback that he received from students prior to the implementation of the new system indicated that there was a need for increased clarity in the judicial process. Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Richard Culliton explained that he expects the system to accomplish this goal.
“The point system should give students a better sense of what to expect and increase transparency,” Culliton wrote in an email to The Argus. “So far the feedback to the point system has been positive but as we review the implementation over the coming year, if we determine that there are drawbacks we’ll work with students and others to modify the system.”
Some student feedback to the new system has been negative. Dandara Catete ’15 worried that the point system could potentially depersonalize judicial proceedings.
“I think this policy is even more absurd than the previous one,” Catete wrote in an email to The Argus. “It turns to numbers what should in many cases be considered in a case-by-case basis, meaning that it takes away the human quality of the people judging the student, who could look at the student’s behavior and circumstances as a whole.”
According to administrators, the point system does not impact the judicial proceedings but instead aids the student’s understanding of the possible consequences of violating the CNAC.
“It is our hope that the process for resolving violations of the code is personalized and the members of the Student Judicial Board will listen to each student and determine what the best outcome is in terms of sanctions,” Culliton wrote.
Students who support the policy argue that it demystifies what seemed to be a previously ambiguous progression of consequences.
“I think it’s an advantage to the students,” Turner said. “You know not to screw up, and if you take the time to look at the handbook you can understand what you can and cannot do, because everything has a scale.”
In an email sent by Culliton to students on Sept. 4, he explained that the system will better facilitate a student’s ability to evaluate the possible consequences of their actions.
“Our goal in implementing this new system was to […] provide you the ability to make the most informed decisions you can (and also to help others who may not be making the best decisions for themselves),” Culliton wrote.
To see the complete description of the point system, visit the Office of Student Affairs section of the University website.