Op-ed: Dean of students reminds campus community of purpose of Student Conduct Code
(Daily Bruin file photo)
Oct. 3, 2019 10:21 p.m.
Welcome back, Bruins. It’s good to have you home!
I look forward to an active year full of learning, growth and, inevitably, challenge. In this spirit, I want to take a moment to remind us of our expectations for one another as a community.
UCLA’s Student Conduct Code has been developed to uphold the True Bruin values of respect, accountability, integrity, service and excellence, which undergird our expectations for all members of our community. While other offices on campus uphold these values in relation to staff and faculty, the Office of Student Conduct is charged with holding students accountable to our values.
We do this per the Student Conduct Code, which outlines prohibited behaviors and adjudication procedures. Our intention for this policy is not to create “gotcha” moments for unsuspecting students. In fact, we actively educate students about our expectations through in-person and online workshops throughout the academic year.
In cases in which a student may have violated this policy, our educational process, which was designed by a team of experts, allows us to center learning and development as core tenets of our engagement with a student. More often than not, students going through our process share that this experience leads them to pause and reflect on their choices and to think critically about the impact of their choices on our community.
This is intentional.
Not only are our processes in alignment with those across the University of California system, they often serve as an example for universities across the country. Still, in the spirit of the excellence of this community, we periodically review and update our policy, most recently in 2018. Our policies are also vetted by campus counsel and the UC Office of the President.
In my role as dean of students, I recognize that each Bruin’s journey is unique and personal. As such, we take students’ context and conduct history into consideration when making decisions about possible sanctions. Educational sanctions such as reflection papers and educational workshops are often assigned when students are found in violation of the code. And students are given the opportunity to appeal any sanctions before they are finalized.
However, we must remember that accountability is a critical component of our True Bruin Values. The student conduct process allows us to maintain the integrity of the UCLA degree. We understand the serious impact these outcomes may have on a student, and we do not take them lightly. At the same time, we recognize that the actions of one student can have a profound impact on our campus community.
When the Office of Student Conduct learns that a student may have violated the code, we email the student notice of the allegation, and provide an opportunity to meet with the dean assigned to their case so that they may respond to the allegations. In this meeting, the dean shares with the student any information shared by the referring party or parties, provides copies for the student’s record and offers the student an opportunity to share their perspective.
If the student acknowledges responsibility for a policy violation, the dean imposes appropriate sanctions and actions based on the specifics of the case. These sanctions can range from a warning to a dismissal.
If the student is able to demonstrate that the alleged violation did not occur, the dean can close the case without a finding of misconduct.
In cases when the student does not acknowledge a policy violation but the dean determines, based on all available information, that the Student Conduct Committee may find that it is more likely than not that a violation of the code has occurred, the dean refers the matter to the Student Conduct Committee for a formal hearing. In no case does the dean decide whether the student committed a violation. Following the committee’s hearing, the student has another opportunity to respond before the final decision is issued by the vice chancellor for student affairs.
We welcome constructive recommendations from the Bruin community on ways to improve our student conduct process. Those interested in doing so may submit their suggestions to [email protected] or schedule a meeting with me during my regular weekly office hours. Please call 310-825-3894 for an appointment. If you would like to review the code in detail, you may find it at https://www.deanofstudents.ucla.edu/Individual-Student-Code.
Blandizzi is the UCLA dean of students.