Conduct boards work toward mediation

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  • National organization of student policy disciplinary groups renames itself the Association for Student Conduct Administration.
  • The organization was formerly called the Association for Student Judicial Affairs.
  • The name change is supposed to promote a move away from legal proceedings.
  • Marquette's Student Conduct Board already works under these principles.
  • At its February meeting, the Association of Student Judicial Affairs — a national organization for university conduct boards — changed its name to the Association for Student Conduct Administration, reflecting its decision to focus on educating students instead of judging and punishing them.

    The newly-named ASCA, of which Marquette is a member, made the change to distance itself from legal proceedings and focus on enforcing university policy, said former president Gary Dickstein.

    "The name seems to fit better with what we do," Dickstein said.

    He said that when the organization was created about 20 years ago, most schools subscribed to a disciplinary model that mimicked a circuit court of appeals. However, schools now include mediation, conflict resolution and restorative justice practices with their conduct boards, which don't fall under the umbrella of a solely judicial system.

    "The discipline processes are designed to be educational in nature, and to discourage repeat offenses," Dickstein said.

    The change has been in the works for the past eight to 12 months. Dickstein was president during this time, but his term as president ended at the February meeting.

    At Marquette, the change from judging students who committed crimes to educating students who made mistakes has already occurred. Dean of Students Stephanie Quade said the switch happened in the mid 1990s, when the Student Conduct Board was restarted, after a brief hiatus, by the Office of Student Development.

    Quade, who has been in charge for 10 years, has made an effort to focus on educating students brought before the board, going as far as to stop using words such as "punishment" or "guilt." In addition, the conduct board is run by students, which Quade said helps facilitate the learning aspects of the program.

    "A peer-led model is going to give us a better opportunity to educate students," Quade said.

    The board is not the only means at OSD's disposal, however. For more serious cases and multiple offenses, students are referred to a conduct administrator, who meets with them in an alternate setting.

    "The boards are hearing cases that are [students'] first or second cases," Quade said.

    The Board works directly with the Office of Residence Life, which refers students to the board via incident reports. However, students are not considered responsible until they have had a hearing.

    Student Conduct Board chair Joseph Schuster, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said this makes the experience more equal for everyone.

    "The Student Conduct Board is really geared towards the fairness of the student," Schuster said.

    He said the hearings have two segments. In the first part, board members ask the students what specifically happened during the incident in question, and in the second part, board members ask the students about themselves.

    This second part is designed to help the board members create "educational outcomes" for the students, which assign responsibility to students, individually, and then gives each student a project to accomplish. The intent of this project is to teach students not to make the same mistakes again.

    Schuster sees the peer-led, non-judicial system set up by the board as a point in its favor.

    "In some situations, it helps to be in more of a conversation with your peers, because we've all had similar experiences."