Student government held a round table discussion on the code of conduct on Tuesday, Feb. 26 in which about 30 students shared their opinions, including members of student senate and student body president Alex Williams.

“The plan is to compile all of the information into a report. They met beforehand with student conduct administration and said, ‘hey we’ve been hearing some concerns around the code of conduct’,” said Melissa Masone, assistant director for student governance.

Members of student government plan to meet with administrators to present themes discussed in the meeting to try and pursue working on those issues.

“They gave the impression to some of our members that there might be an opportunity over the summer to implement some changes,” Masone said.

Student government believes that because of the new director in the Office of Student Conduct, now is the time to act. Brent E. Ericson, assistant dean/director of office of student conduct, university life and Todd Rose, associate dean of university life, are student government’s two contact points for starting a conversation.

“Our overall goal isn’t to go in there and say we need all this change, change change,” said Dilan Wickrema, moderator at the discussion and chairman of university life committee. “It’s more to start a conversation with them and get the information out. With the new director, this is the time to start a new relationship and really foster those conversations, not only with us, but with the rest of the community and hopefully get more to understand. If not, try to help them with their policies and, you know, start that conversation.”

The meeting was held without the presence of the administration, which Wickrema said was intentional to allow for a respectful conversation. Masone felt that it allowed students to express their opinions without a filter.

Points of Discussion

  • *Elimination of a student right: Students are no longer guaranteed that the processes conducted by the office of student conduct will be limited to a time frame.
  • *Strict drug policy: Students felt that it is wrong to punish a student for occupation of marijuana the same as other drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Several students disagreed, in saying that there would be no legal way to determine where to create a differentiation.
  • *Absence of Good Samaritan policy: Students who help others go to a safe place while they are, for example, intoxicated, may also be charged. Creating a Good Samaritan policy would allow for student to help others without fearing that they could be penalized.
  • *Presumption of guilt: Students feel that they are tried as guilty before proven innocent. The measure for declaring a student as guilty is “more likely than not” rather than “guilty beyond reasonable doubt.”


“It was also more of an opportunity to make them feel like they had an opportunity to say what they really feel and be more honest and genuine than when having an administrator in the room,” Masone said.

Masone notes that in the meeting with administrators, which will take place around the first week after spring break, student government will bring up the main themes from the discussion: student’s rights, good Samaritan policy, drug policy, the length of the student investigative process and the guilty before proven innocent stigma.

“One of the things that we’ve heard over the past couple of years is obviously the drug policy,” Masone said. “So revisiting that, and not necessarily going at it from an angle of it needs to be changed, but understanding why the current policy is what it is and if there’s an opportunity to hear what students are saying from their personal experiences and make it so it’s more applicable, more meets the needs of everyone involved.”

Masone believes that some of the discontent with the conduct code stems from students not understanding each policy’s purpose.

“The Student Conduct Office really needs to do some intentional work behind educating the community on why these policies are in place or why these policies exist,” Masone said.

Jake Chavara, attorney general, a new has been working on a list of student rights. This proposed bill of rights is still a work-in-progress.

“He’s worked really closely with faculty and administrators this year and one of the things that they are trying to do is instead of labeling it the student bill of rights is linking it to Cabrera’s vision statement because of you look at Cabrera’s mission statement, part of that is the Mason student image,” Masone said. “That was part of his whole vision process. So they’re looking to see if they can take what they’re already working on with the student bill of rights and tie it to what his vision is and the Mason student and see if they can create something together.”

Seeing actual change in the code of conduct may not come this semester because of the long process with all involved. It, however, may be a reality in the next couple of years.

“I envision that depending on what we’re talking about at the moment, it will bring different stakeholders to the table,” Masone said. “So if we’re talking about the length of time that it takes them, it might mean involving the conduct office and the dean of students. If we’re talking a good Samaritan policy or medical amnesty policy that might mean student conduct and the WAVES office. I feel like whatever conversation is being pursued at that moment, different stakehold- ers are going to come to the table.”