News, On Campus, Administration

Dean Of Students Office Clarifies Student Guide Updates With UGBC And OSI

Last week saw the resignation of UGBC’s former executive vice president (EVP) Chris Marchese, A&S ’15, and with it, a flawed process of executive succession.

Amid initial allegations of having left office for “personal reasons,” Marchese later reported having been forced out of the EVP post by the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) over disagreements regarding leadership qualifications set forth by the Student Organizations Manual. He subsequently detailed that those disagreements were the result of his disciplinary standing with the University following multiple conduct-related sanctions.

According to the outgoing-EVP Marchese, the Dean of Students Office (DOS) made substantial revisions to the Student Guide over the summer without any advising or collaboration from UGBC members.

Those changes were said to have included major overhauls to the handling of disciplinary matters—namely undergraduate alcohol use and different levels of probation for sanctions against students.

Associate Dean of Students Richard DeCapua issued a letter dated Sept. 2 to students via email regarding changes made to four specific sections of the Student Guide: hazing policy, sexual misconduct policy, help seeking policy, copyright, and compliance policy.

In that email, the text of each section linked to that policy’s section in the online Student Guide.

Among those changes were the removal of housing probation and the addition of deferred suspension—levels of disciplinary action taken by DOS for students in violation of the University’s “preponderance of evidence” standard used in conduct hearings.

DeCapua stated that updates made to the website on Nov. 12 and Nov. 18 were the result of updates the University’s website as a whole, and that substantial revisions to the Student Guide are not made during the year, but are instead reviewed each summer.
Now, DOS has formed a committee comprised of administrators from both its own and OSI, and members of UGBC, to evaluate student-guided revisions compiled by UGBC’s institutional policy review committee.

DeCapua said that the tri-party committee consisting of members from DOS, OSI, and UGBC aims to finalize an executive summary of proposed changes by this December.

In the wake of Marchese’s absence, the UGBC Executive Council unilaterally appointed Connor Bourff, vice president of student initiatives and A&S ’15, the new EVP—a move that UGBC later admitted had defied the organization’s constitution.

Under the UGBC Constitution, policies surrounding the order of succession mandate the approval of the Student Assembly (SA). That approval process, however, never occurred.

Marchese’s resignation coincided with the underlying UGBC initiative to review and reform the Boston College Student Guide—the body of policies governing students’ rights and responsibilities across campus, spanning sec tions from student conduct regulations to academic affairs.

This semester marks the first that DOS has proactively contacted and included UGBC members for direct suggestions toward revising the Student Guide, and to work jointly alongside OSI to finalize proposed Student Guide changes by early December. This inclusion of UGBC members, though, follows a number of changes made by DOS to the Student Guide over the summer without student input, Marchese said.

“I think that is just a good example of how [UGBC] was told that it was going to happen, we were told throughout the summer that we were going to be involved, and then out of nowhere there was a new code that did not have UGBC input,” he said.

According to Thomas Napoli, chair of the Institutional Policy Review Committee and A&S ’16, UGBC has already begun implementing student input.
Yesterday, the committee circulated a student survey regarding student rights and free expression on campus to a random sample of the undergraduate population, he said, noting that the survey was delayed for an extended period of time due to “instrument reliability”—a response bias reflected in a previously smaller sample size, Napoli said in an email.

The committee has also made “free speech and expression” one of the focal points of its proposed changes, according to Napoli, who cited consulting the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) at BC for feedback on the proposals.

The group is also drafting documents for the regarding “rights and responsibilities” portion of the Guide, which the committee is scheduled to open to student focus groups for further input.

“We want to give students two separate times to give feedback on the Student Guide and those proposals,” Napoli said.

A third group of UGBC members will focus specifically on changes pertaining to the conduct section of the Student Guide. Napoli said UGBC members working with DOS and OSI are expecting to receive proposed revisions to the conduct section by this weekend.

Feedback received during the focus group—slated for today at 5 p.m. in Carney 104A—along with input from SJC will be evaluated over Thanksgiving break, Napoli said.

On Dec. 2, members of UGBC and the institutional policy review committee will also be hosting a public town hall meeting in Fulton 511 at 7 p.m. for expanded feedback from interested students, leaving those on the proposal committee three days to process any additional input.

Featured Image courtesy of the Office of Marketing Communications

November 24, 2014