System looks at behavior away from campus

Kathlyn Hotynski

By Nathaniel Shuda

[email protected]

In response to concerns from neighborhood associations near several UW campuses, the UW System formed a committee to take a look at its student conduct code, which has some in the Eau Claire area concerned.

Kate Dixon, university relations specialist for the UW System, said the System has created a committee of staff representatives and students to look at the possibility of allowing universities to hold students accountable for their off-campus behavior.

“Some of these (codes) haven’t been updated in a long time,” Dixon said. “The committee is very interested in hearing many different sides of this issue. We are very much in an information gathering stage.”

This move could enter the UW System into a long list of other schools across the nation that sanction students for a variety off-campus behavior ranging from sexual assault to noise violations, underage drinking and vandalism.

The University of Colorado, for example, suspends students for a semester who receive two drinking citations – on campus or off. Marquette University applies a similar policy to those studying abroad.

The University of Minnesota and Penn State University also have similar policies.

Under the current System code, universities can only discipline students for violations committed on-campus or on a university-sanctioned activity, such as a field trip, said Kimberly Barrett, associate vice chancellor for Student Development and Diversity.

“Whatever action that we take we need to make sure that has a direct effect on (the) educational mission of university,” Barrett said. “We cooperate with the local police on those issues who have jurisdiction. That’s already going on.”

Many Eau Claire residents living near the campus area said they don’t think giving the university the power to punish students is necessary.

Marty Fisher-Blakeley, president of the Randall Park association, said it would be very difficult for the university to enforce such a policy.

“I don’t think that the university should have that ability because . you create a standard that wouldn’t be enforced equitably and fairly because you can’t be everywhere at once,” Fisher-Blakeley said, adding that without a definite plan, things could get complicated. “It’s a big can of angle worms that you don’t want to open up.”

However some, including sophomore Eun-Sil “Kate” Lee disagreed.

“(The university) has to punish students off-campus as well,” Lee said. “Students are not independent individuals. As long as they’re in college, the university has an obligation to take care of (the problem).”