Last Thursday Vice President of Student Affairs, Todd Olson, sent an email to the student body hailing the changes made to the Code of Student Conduct that have gone into effect this year. In his opening lines, Olson praised GUSA, the Student Advocacy Office, and the Disciplinary Review Committee for their help in the revision process, highlighting their emphasis on making the Code of Conduct clearer and more accessible to students.
Following Olson’s opening pleasantries, his email devolved into little more than bureaucratic rambling. Although Olson did name a few of the changes to the Code of Conduct, like the elimination of Category A, B, and C violations, he failed to explain the new Code of Conduct to his audience, namely the people who will have to live by these rules. Essentially, Olson handed students a 28-page document and encouraged them to read it.
This method of communicating the changes made to the Code of Student Conduct is unacceptable. It places upperclassman at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with conduct issues because, while incoming students have had the essentials of the current Code of Conduct explained to them at NSO, the rest of the student body is expected to wade through 28 pages of rules and preambles in order to find the differences.
The University’s lack of clarity with regard to the changes does nothing to foster an image of Georgetown’s Office of Student Conduct as a transparent and trustworthy organization. If the Office of Student Conduct wishes to support students rather than function as a looming edifice of collegiate authority, it must prove that by maintaining clear and active communication with students. Todd Olson’s email, although presumably well intentioned, fell short of that mark.
Students need to understand their limitations and their rights under the Code of Conduct. It is unreasonable to expect them to read through a behemoth set of rules and then read through last year’s as well to understand the changes. Instead of sending students a vague email that focuses on patting a few organizations on the back, Olson ought to have sent out a clear and concise description of the changes made this year. Additionally, the Office of Student Conduct needs to make a stronger effort to inform students of their rights.
Basic communication is a simple step to rectify this lack of clarity, and everyone, students and administrators alike, stands to benefit from it.