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February 16, 1999 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-16

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4B -- The Michigan Daily - Cracking the Code - Tuesday, February 16, 1999
EEdited and managed by JEFFREY KOSSEFF
students at the HEATHER KAMINS DAVID WALLACE
University of Michigan Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editors
3Di U i s y M c aE o i h fi r P gdUnless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the
420 Maynard Street majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
L ater this week, the Code of Student ing process is brought about by a panel.
Conduct - the University's internal But since there is a lack of precedent,
disciplinary system - which all ,students decisions that are made by this panel are
are subject to, will be reviewed by the based highly on "personal" bias towards
University Board of Regents. This review Regents must consider students rights an individual case and inadvertently laid
will take into consideration reports from down different standards to which stu-
the Michigan Student Assembly and the nal justice system in trying to make the hearings are required to sign, all hearings dents are subjected.
Division of Student Affairs. Unlike the campus into a more sheltered environ- are shrouded in complete secrecy. This The Code of Student Conduct is com-
Engineering Honor Code, the Code of ment. But the University is supposed to leaves the student body in speculation as piled in a booklet that every student
Student Conduct is non-academic. The be a place where students are growing to the effectiveness of the Code, but more receives as they enter the University. But
Code has many problems, and the most into adults and developing their own val- importantly, trying to seek a precedent on guidelines such as "obvious and serious
prominent of which is the infringement ues - the University is in no legitimate appropriate punishments is virtually threat or harm" that are associated with the
on students' rights. With the rule of law position to take the law's place in enforc- impossible. There is also a lack of formal Code are ambiguous, and many times vio-
already in place, the Code is unnecessary ing social standards onto students. procedure in the hearing process. There lations are vague and generalized and there-
and should be abolished. Under the guidelines of the Code, the are no guidelines on the length of the hear- fore subjected to individual interpretation.
Currently, there are many problems University can punish a student who com- ings as illustrated in the Brooks case, But from within the Code, a student is
associated with the Code. Not the least of mits an offense outside the University com- when the hearings dragged on for more automatically suspended from the
which, the Code violates the doctrine of munity even if the student does not pose a than a year, during which the people University if one chooses to delay or post-
"double jeopardy" as evident through the threat to the University. This is another reviewing the case had changed. pone the hearing process. Students should
case of Michigan football player Jason example that illustrates the University The rights individuals should have be allowed such rights, and the University
Brooks. Under the code, Six sanctions putting itself into a position above the during any trial are denied to them as a should not have the right to take any action
were placed on him, but prior to this deci- American criminal justice system and fur- result of the Code resolution process before a case is fully reviewed.
sion, Brooks had already resolved the ther punishing students who have already being viewed as "administrative" and With numerous problems associated
fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct been punished. "educational" as opposed to legal. with the Code, including the fact that
charges brought against him in the The decision making procedures that Therefore students are not provided with many sections are ambiguous and are gen-
Washtenaw County court system. The are made under the Code are also in ques- the essentials of the American legal sys- eralized, the regents should consider abol-
University uses the Code as an excuse to tion. The Code arbitration hearing is a tem, such as the right to legal counsel, ishing the Code and let the rule of law do
raise the social standards of students closed process. Due to the confidentiality appealing to precedent and burden of its work as it has done throughout the
higher than those of the American crimi- statement that all participants in Code proof. Currently, the final decision mak- country's history.
rous 1 A CONTAC
Dangerosapathy.
SeThe University Board of Regents
Students mus1t let regents know their views

e The Michigan aily - Cracking t
Student mediocrity will allow Code to survive GuEST V

Wake up; get ready for class; go to a cof-
* fee shop that offers exorbitantly priced
java.
2. Go to class that is intended to prepare stu-
dents for either pre-professional school or an
exciting life as a low-level corporate hack.
3. Go to a meeting of a non-controversial,
resume-filling student_
group that doesn't;
require much time except
for bowling marathons,
scavenger hunts, token
community service time
and bake sales.
4. Check e-mail at
Angell Hall.
5. Study, making sure
to memorize all the facts
while thinking about the
material as little as possi- Jeffrey
ble.

6. Go to Touchdown's.
7. Go to sleep.
8. Wake up; get ready

Kosseff
Sweet
NO Ct ivp

for class. y
Sound familiar? If
you're a University student, you or somebody
you know likely have similar schedules. There
may be some variations - you might prefer
parties to bars. The average University student
is mediocre. I am not implying that most
University students are unintelligent - they
just don't use their smarts or their privilege of
attending one of the finest universities to their
full advantage. I use mediocre to describe the
overall attitude toward life. They don't stop to
think about vital social issues, and they com-
pensate for their apathy by joining groups that
are never willing to take any real risks by
actively challenging social structures. This
incredible apathy can be seen in students' atti-
tude toward the upcoming Code of Student
Conduct review.
Most. students I've spoken with don't even
know what the Code is. Articles about the
upcoming review run in the Daily frequently,
but Crime Notes are probably more appealing
to the student mind. The Michigan Student
Assembly, the one student group that must be
commended for its numerous efforts in investi-
gating the Code, held Code forums last semes-
ter that drew less than 30 students. The infor-
mation is there, people. It's up to you to
process it. Or would you rather go to a meeting
of a group whose sole purpose is to prepare you
for graduate school. These organizations play

important roles for students' futures, but they
do not aid students in voicing their views on
crucial campus issues.
I could spend the rest of this column describ-
ing every flaw of the Code, but that's the pur-
pose of the rest of this issue. It is more useful
to examine why you are compelled to let this
section of the Daily fall to the ground and turn
straight to the crossword puzzle - a true intel-
lectual challenge.
The Code, at face value, is not an exciting
topic. It involves big phrases like "Division of
Student Affairs" and "Office of Student
Conflict Resolution." Learning about it won't
help you prepare for your mid-term and doesn't
fit well on a resume. Prominent names dis-
cussed at Code forums include Vice President
for Student Affairs Maureen Hartford and
University President Lee Bollinger - people
who are not quite as popular among University
students as Drew Henson and Charles
Woodson.
Fortunately, the vast majority of University
students will never have Code charges brought
against them. They will never be forced out of
their constitutional rights by an unfair process
that involves clandestine late-night debates and
top-heavy bureaucratic control.
But does this mean that students shouldn't
care? They should, but they don't. If students
felt similar anger and feelings of injustice
toward the Code as they do when an exam ques-
tion in Chem. 210 is unclear, the review process
would be significantly different. But as it
stands, the only student feedback the regents
have received is the thorough MSA Student
Code Review Committee. MSA should be com-
mended for taking an active stance on the Code
y rather than simply pass a resolution condemn-
ing it. But besides the MSA report, students
have remained virtually silent.
It is a sad situation, but the only way most stu-
dents would actively fight against the Code
would be if they were persecuted and experi-
enced the injustice created by this secretive
process. When Hartford and a handful of other
elusive bureaucrats hold your academic fate in
their hands, then you might care. That might
cause you to e-mail the regents and University
administrators to let them know your thoughts on
the oppressive process. It might cause you to read
the MSA report to determine how many of your
constitutional rights have been violated. But until
then, have fun playing MCAT Jeopardy.
- Jeffrey Kosseff can be reached over e-mail
at jkosseff@umich.edu.

Code reveals 'U's' amrr

By Les Bockhorn
Editor in Chief,The Michigan Review
It is a rare occasion when the editors of The
Michigan Daily and The Michigan Review
agree about anything. When that happens, the
issue is usually one of profound importance to
students, and the Code of Student Conduct fits
that description. As the University's student
journal of conservative and libertarian opinion,
the Review has joined the Daily in consistently
opposing all non-academic codes of conduct,
from the unconstitutional "hate speech" codes
adopted by the University in the late 1980s, to
the latest incarnation of the Code.
The most astonishing aspect of the Code is
the blatant hypocrisy and arrogance it reveals
on the part of the University. The Code pur-
ports to protect such "essential values" as free-
dom, dignity, and ciyility, yet its provisions fly
in the face of those terms as commonly under-
stood. It ignores safeguards against double
jeopardy by charging and punishing students
for acts which are already illegal and under the
jurisdiction of the courts. For instance, in 1994
the University charged doctoral student
Melanie Welch with harassment and assault,
even after her case was thrown out of criminal
court because of falsified DPS reports. The
Code also denies students the right to legal rep-
resentation. Its confidentiality requirements
prevent accused students from consulting past
cases for precedents, and hinder public scrutiny
which would ensure fairness. The University
justifies all this by ridiculously asserting that,
while, the Code does not "deprive students of
the appropriate due process protections to
which they are entitled," it is "one of the
University's administrative procedures and

Code creates an 'unsa

R ight under students' noses, the University
is conducting secret trials and handing
down arbitrary sentences without receiving
input from actual lawyers or judges. In the
wake of last semester's high profile sanctions
and the Office of Student Conflict
Resolution's mailing of threats to 133 stu-
dents who received alcohol violations from
the Ann Arbor Police Department last
December, many students still have little
knowledge of the Code of Student Conduct.
As a public and academic insti-
tution, the University acts com-
pletely out of line in its attempts to
force students to conform to spe-c
cific legal and moral standards.
The University's hypocrisy could
not be more evident when it pro- C
motes diversity and simultaneous-
ly attempts to form a morally
homogenous student body. Popular '- \
student resistance to the Code has
been minimal - when the £
Michigan Student Assembly host-
ed a forum on the code in November, only
about 30 students attended.
Fortunately, the future of the Code, at least
in its present form, is in jeopardy. The
University Board of Regents has two new
members, and a MSA Student Code Review
Committee report on the Code is scheduled to
be discussed at the February regents meeting.
The report recommended the deletion of sec-
tions of the code that allow the admission of
hearsay as evidence as well as those that were
overly ambiguous and/or violated student's
First and Fifth Amendment rights. A legal
analysis of the Code, comparisons with stu-
dent codes of conduct at other universities and
the results of 300 student questionnaires

k
At
it1

administered by MSA are also included in the
committee's report.
While the upsurge of student apathy
towards political matters over the last two
decades is disheartening to say the least, it is
hard to determine just how counterproductive
it can be. Gauging the potential harm that may
arise out of student apathy towards a matter as
immediate as the board's examination of the
Code is a much different matter. The level of
seriousness with which each regent approach-
es the discussion of the Code is
likely to be directly proportional to
the amount of input they receive
from students. It is a rare instance
that something as mundane as a
phone call or e-mail to a politician
©o could make such a significant
impact.
It will truly be a sad state of
affairs when indifference becomes
I so rampant among students that
q efforts to impose moral values on
them are not resisted. Every stu-
dent falls under the umbrella of the Code's
statutes and is therefore directly affected by
the outcome of the upcoming Regents meet-
ing.
At a time when the Code is most vulnerable,
students cannot afford to keep their opinions
to themselves. The few minutes it takes to
contact those in the administration who have
the power to amend or abolish the Code will
likely prove significant.
Use the e-mail addresses and phone num-
bers on this page to let your voice be heard. If
students take the time to express their opin-
ions to the eight people who will ultimately
decide the fate of the Code, they have the
potential of causing great change.

DANIEL HORNING (R-GRAND HAVEN)
(616) 842-1351
E-MAIL: dhorning@umich.edu
-- --- - - --- - --------------.--------------..------_-- .- _ . .--.- -- - . ..------- --- .-
OLIVIA MAYNARD (D-GOODRICH)
(810) 239-1535
E-MAIL: omaynard@umich.edu
REBECCA MCGOWAN (D-ANN ARBOR)
668-8873
E-MAIL: rmcgowan@umich.edu
ANDREA FISCHER NEWMAN (R-AN ARBOR) -
995-3428
E-MAIL: afisch@umich.edu
S. MARTIN TAYLOR (D-GROSSE POINTE FARMS)
(313) 235-7266
E-MAIL: taylorsm@umich.edu
KAT.HY WHITE (D-ANN ARBOR)
(313) 577-1054
E-MAIL: kewhite@umich edu
University President
LEE BOLLINGER
764-6270
E-MAIL: ieecboi@umich.edu

SI

OF
Opu CLPsaA.* . ,Gt.n.e.,.e..A

By Trent Thompson
Michigan Student Assembly President
What is the Code of Student Conduct? If you
don't know the answer to this question, you are
not alone. Nearly 85 percent of University stu-
dents have trouble describing what's in the Code.
Yet the Code plays a part in every student's life.
Is a set of rules which govern students' lives,
such as the Code, necessary? Existing federal
and state laws seem to govern the nation quite
effectively. Why is there a need for the University
to make its own "laws?"
Of the administration's arguments for why we
need a Code, the one with the most merit is that
we live in a campus community with special
needs. The actions of one student may affect the
learning environment and safety of many others.
Student relationships such as residence hall
neighbors, classmates, roommates, etc. increase
the need for the campus to feel safe.
The current Code was meant to help set stan-
dards in order to create a safe environment.
But the current Code does not list a set of
agreed upon standards.
Further, when it comes to students' rights,
the current Code actually creates an unsafe
and uncertain environment.
The Code makes failure to leave University
controlled premises when told to do so by police
an offense regardless of whether the reason for
removal is unlawful conduct. Thus, peaceful stu-
dent protests can be considered Code offenses.
The Code allows for automatic suspension if a
student undergoing concurrent legal action chooses
to delay a Code hearing. Thus, students requesting
to postpone a hearing are automatically penalized.
The Code process is not an open one, foster-
ing feelings of distrust.
Violations are not sufficiently defined in the
text of the Code, leaving interpretations open and

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