The University’s student handbook, duLac, was revised this summer, with clauses clearly defining sexual consent and the Office of Residential Life and Housing’s (ORLH) sanctions added while a proposed section defining medical amnesty was not adopted.
Other major changes included relaxing restrictions on where students can host tailgates, clarifying the University’s policies on holding disciplinary records and making the formatting easier to read, said Nick Ruof, student government chief of staff.
“They clarified a lot of things and made it more user-friendly,” he said.
The revisions were made after a three-year review process, which began under former vice president for student affairs Fr. Mark Poorman, was finalized this summer under his successor, Fr. Tom Doyle.
“Both men provided strong leadership to the entire team that worked on the three-year project,” said Brian Coughlin, assistant vice president for student affairs. “Having so many campus stakeholders involved and the fact that it was a team approach throughout the three-year project made implementing changes easier.”
The process involved input from the Committee for Sexual Assault Prevention (CSAP), the Campus Life Council (CLC), student government and rectors.
“This revision is the result of an unparalleled level of collaboration between so many at the University,” Coughlin said. “Over the three-year process, many students, faculty and administrators had a hand in the work.”
Many of the changes adopted were part of nine recommendations made by the CLC last year.
Rouf said he and other student government administrators were excited about some of the changes, specifically those defining what constitutes sexual assault and defining University sanctions.
“They finally listed out sanctions — what the Office of Residential Life can do to somebody,” he said.
Coughlin said defining sexual assault was one of the clear goals of this round of revisions.
“This subcommittee’s recommendations were based on input from students, faculty and administrators as well as bench-marking with other colleges and universities,” he said. “Having clearer definitions about what constitutes sexual assault was one of the clear goals of the new policy, both as a way to educate the campus community and prevent sexual assault as well as address these incidents when they happen.”
While Rouf was happy with some of the changes, he said many students expressed concern that no clause strictly stated that students would receive amnesty from any sanctions for helping a friend who in danger. A section on medical amnesty was one of the nine recommendations made by CLC.
“If somebody gets in trouble because they’re helping someone out or they call the police, can that be taken into consideration?” he said.
Coughlin said ORLH always has and will continue to “take into consideration the circumstances surrounding a violation and the impact the misconduct had on the community as a whole, as well as on those directly involved in the incident, when making decisions about individual situations.”
However, Rouf said he would like to see a section in duLac that clearly defines medical amnesty, rather than the vague language currently seen in the handbook.
“Where is it written?” he said. “They didn’t add any medical amnesty clause.”
While a clause making reference to the University’s policies concerning holding disciplinary records was added, it only states that the University will maintain most disciplinary records for seven years and only not create a disciplinary record when a student is issued a verbal or written warning.
“This policy is very much in line with what many other colleges and universities do in terms of student disciplinary records,” Coughlin said.
The CLC made no recommendations concerning a clause regarding disciplinary records.
However, Rouf said the current policy punished students with minor violations by exposing them to scrutiny from potential employers and graduate schools.
“It’s a big concern with kids going to medical school and stuff like that because if they get in trouble, the University has to notify the medical school they’re applying to,” he said. “It’s so cutthroat that any little thing a medical school can find to not accept you, they’ll do it.”
Rouf said he would like to “push this topic for a bigger discussion.”
The handbook is routinely updated with minor changes every year and undergoes a major revision process every five to eight years as part of standard University procedure, Coughlin said.