April 30, 2011

College code of conduct revised

Staff Reporter

SUNY Cortland’s College Council has approved two revisions to the student Code of Conduct that will make students more accountable for their decisions and cover societal changes.
The Office of Judicial Affairs will change its name to Office of Student Conduct, Director of Judicial Affairs Nan Pasquarello told the council Monday. She said other State University of New York campuses have been making similar changes to shift the wording from a criminal aspect to educational.
One change requires the college to keep certain student disciplinary records longer after the student graduates or leaves.
Records of serious criminal violations — sexual misconduct, hazing, violent crimes — are kept permanently in the college system. Less serious offenses are kept on record for a minimum of seven years.
SUNY’s administration now wants records of academic violations to be kept for three years, where previously they were shredded after a student graduated or left. Pasquarello told the council that graduate schools want to know about students’ past academic misconduct but not alcohol violations.
The other revision clarifies the definition of harassment to address bullying, which has become more common with the advent of cell phone text messages and social media. Pasquarello said bullying can include theft or destruction of personal property, humiliation and other behaviors. The change in wording will cover bullying and other behaviors that take place via Facebook, texting and other online media.
“We have not seen an increase in such behaviors here, but there have been high-profile cases around the nation and the code’s wording needed to reflect what is happening,” said college spokesman Fred Pierce.
Pasquarello said another concern, and one reason for broadening the harassment definition, is increasing behaviors inspired by reality television.
“The ‘Jersey Shore factor,’ as we call it, is causing students to behave in ways they didn’t a few years ago,” she said.
“Jersey Shore” is an MTV reality show that follows four young men and four young women living on New Jersey’s Atlantic shore for the summer. The show, entering its fourth season, has caused debate on college and teenager-oriented websites.
Pasquarello did not offer specific examples but said there have been incidents showing students are influenced by “Jersey Shore.”
“Reality shows are distortions of reality, showing whatever is the most dramatic,” Pierce said. “A constant diet of these shows, like ‘Real World’ or ‘Jersey Shore,’ can have an effect on people. ‘Jersey Shore’ shows young people fighting, treating each other badly, acting in off-the-wall ways.”


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