June 16, 2020
The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards at the University of Oregon would like to acknowledge the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbrey, Tony McDade, and too many others. Throughout our history, Black and African American people in the United States have experienced systematic and institutionalized oppression, hatred, and violence. For those of us in higher education, it is past time for us to acknowledge the role we have played and to actively be better.
Over the past few weeks, we have grieved and expressed our anger. We have participated in protest and donated resources to those who need our help. We have spoken with friends and family and confronted hatred and misunderstanding within our communities. We felt like we were doing our part, but we weren’t. When a colleague in an online community asked, “What are you doing within your locus of control on campus?” we realized we needed to reflect on our actions as student affairs professionals, as well.
For those who don’t know, modern student conduct practice is a relatively new profession. Historically, colleges and universities relied upon [in loco parentis] to control and respond to student behavior. Sanctions were punitive and variable, based on the preference and bias of the administration. In 1960, a group of Black students at Alabama State College chose to participate in a lunch counter sit-in. The college immediately expelled nine students and placed another 20 students on probation without the opportunity for a hearing. Six of the expelled students filed a lawsuit (Dixon v. Alabama), claiming their constitutional right to due process had been violated. Ultimately, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. The brave actions of these Black men and women established due process rights for college students, regardless of their identities, across the country.
While it is our responsibility and honor to uphold these due process rights, the student conduct profession continues to work within a larger system of laws, regulations, and practices which disproportionally impact students of color. In the past, we have asked students to trust us and relied upon words to “prove” our commitment. We recognize that if we want our students to trust us, we need to show them we can be trusted. We must show our students that we stand against anti-blackness and other forms of bias. The core of our mission is to protect the rights, safety, dignity, and worth of every individual. It is not enough to be non-racist; we must be actively anti-racist.
Therefore, the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards commits to:
- Listen to students, faculty, and staff who wish to share concerns or provide feedback and use that feedback to continually improve and enhance our processes;
- Review current student conduct practices and procedures from an equity-minded and race-conscious lens;
- Develop and implement anti-oppression and cultural humility training for case managers, appellate bodies, and investigators; and
- Explore options to actively address anti-blackness, racism, systemic inequity, and other forms of bias using restorative practices.
Students, faculty, and staff are invited to join us in bringing these commitments to action. If you would like to participate, or have ideas on how we can continue to do better, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Student Conduct and Community Standards Team