Cracking the Code

    It’s been three years since the Student Conduct Code was last revised, and a whopping 33 years since anyone actually read it. The Student Conduct Code Revision Workgroup is betting that the widely ignored page-turner needed student authors to get student readers, and they just might be onto something. By truncating half the code and gathering input from 27 on-campus groups, the members have finally gotten the student body to give a damn about what’s expected of them.

    The workgroup was formed in May 2009 by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue to confront negative findings by the Undergraduate Student Experience and Satisfaction Committee. The 2005 report lists 16 campus issues to tackle and — surprise, surprise — half pertain to UCSD’s perpetually dormant social scene. One reason for this is illustrated in No. 2: a “too controlled, overly regulated” residential life.

    Tenants think Residential Security Officers only want to bust up extracurriculars and ruin Triton spirit. One survey even described the job of the Residential Security Officers as to practically “put their ears on the outside of the door to see if there is a party going on.” To combat this authoritative, detached view of administration, the 23-person workgroup is enlisting the help of student organizations, councils, and the general student body so they could better understand the standards to which they are held. Administrators won’t ever totally “get” the student body, but it’s nice to see they at least want us on the same page.

    And with this more accessible, stripped-down treatment, students will actually be on that page. No longer is an LSAT study guide required to decipher the once legally minded code. It now flows in an outline better suited for those seeking a particular paragraph. Sanctions and the appeals process are now clearly labeled brochure-style instead of buried in clauses that more closely resembled the California penal code. As a trade-off for not speaking in legal jargon, the draft defines key terminology at the beginning to keep everyone on the same page — or rather, 15 pages. This simpler lexicon effectively halved the old, legally verbose 30-page code that was likely the greatest deterrent to student readership and, in turn, knowing the regulations RSOs so enthusiastically enforce.

    But the drastic shortening goes too far when it comes to the good stuff: sex, drugs and porn. Instead of explicitly stating each possible violation, the new code refers the reader to other policies (e.g. Sexual Harassment, Alcohol Policy 14.16, Academic Computing & Media Services Acceptable Use Policy, etc.). Fragmenting this information across multiple sources was intended to omit reiterated points, but students shouldn’t be forced into a scavenger hunt to piece together how they broke the code, what policy they breached and back to the code to determine the next step. All of the loose articles can ultimately be consolidated into one exhaustive piece while still avoiding the Moby Dick-length that discouraged students from reading it.

    This isn’t the first time the Student Conduct Code has been pared down for the sake of simplicity. In a 2001 review, a similar work group decided the use of lawyers for administrative hearings was not constitutionally protected and consequently nixed it. Even then-director of Student Legal Services Nick Aguilar admitted that attorneys “tend to be ineffective in the administrative setting.” The right to student advocates (now called advisers) was maintained, letting students enlist the help of peers in proceedings without giving them extra-constitutional rights. With each of these modifications, the code erases a sense of formality that did nothing but complicate legal affairs that students felt were already working against them.

    Apart from the much-needed Cliffs-Notes makeover, the appeals process has been slightly modified. Previously, the choice to uphold or dismiss a challenged decision would be left up to the relevant college’s provost, and the entire council of six provosts would only gather to hear an appeal concerning more than one college. The new draft would enlist the council of provosts for all appeals, not just intercollegiate disputes. While we could observe a longer turnaround time for proceedings, it’s outweighed by the new pressure for provosts to find consensus on issues that impact students directly. Any time administrators from the six colleges convene is an opportunity to get in touch with issues that affect the greater campus. For students, this means preventing violations from being repeated and a closer relationship with those provosts whom most of us never meet.

    Readers can contact Alex Pakzad at [email protected].

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $2500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $2500
    Contributed
    Our Goal