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Revisions to du Lac will benefit student body

Editorial Board | Thursday, February 25, 2010

According to du Lac, the Notre Dame student handbook, the punishment for breaking parietals can range from receiving a disciplinary conference to expulsion from the University.
Yet Associate Vice President for Residence Life Bill Kirk said expulsion is rarely used as punishment for a parietals violation.
“There are several sanctions … listed in du Lac that do not accurately reflect the way that such violations of rules have been addressed in the past,” Kirk said, referencing expulsion as the punishment for breaking parietals as one of these sanctions.
Changing the punishment for a parietals violation is one area the University is looking at in the du Lac revision process — a task the University has undertaken to make sure the policies in du Lac are up-to-date with student needs. Many of the statements under examination are related to the University’s alcohol and disciplinary policies.
Revising du Lac is long overdue, as the parietals example shows that some policies are out of date and inconsistently enforced.
Kirk said it is likely the wording on the parietals violation punishment will change to more accurately reflect the Office of Residence Life and Housing’s (ORLH) course of action when students are caught.
This is an important change.
Making du Lac more accurate and accessible to students is crucial, as many disciplinary policies described in du Lac are vague and leave room for discrepancies in enforcing University rules.
The University has reached out to student government for input in the du Lac revision process, and the administration should seriously consider implementing some of student government’s suggestions.
In particular, Student Senate recently passed a resolution to instate a medical amnesty policy in du Lac that would offer a student immunity from punishment if helping another student whose health or safety is at risk.
A medical amnesty policy would be a valuable addition to the handbook because it offers students the commitment that the University values their safety as its first priority.
Additionally, student government is recommending that first-time offenses be handled in dorm whenever possible. This would give rectors discretion in handing out punishments, and a one-time offense would not go on a student’s permanent record. Rectors know the student in a personal way that is impossible for the ORLH staff, putting them in a better position to hand out punishments and offer the student any guidance they may need.
The University has taken the initiative in revising du Lac, a necessary step that shows students that the faculty and staff are looking to create the best system possible to manage the student body. The administration has indicated they want student input, and it should put into practice several of the suggestions put forth by the student body through student government.
Revisions to the punishment for parietals violation and an addition of a medical amnesty policy, among other changes, will benefit the student body by making du Lac more accessible, fair and consistent.