All universities are navigating the new terrain of a different campus life with a global pandemic impacting our everyday lives. Student conduct offices are finding ways to enforce student behavior from social distancing, mask wearing, and other measures that are now common practice to stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result, student conduct staff members are facing unprecedented concerns on how to enforce rules while supporting students across the country through a virtual process. Student conduct offices have been left to adapt to the changes “in an accelerated timeline due to a national pandemic has left most practitioners both exhausted and unsure of what to do next. One of the greatest challenges that we face is how to support our students in this virtual conduct process,” as Katie Newcomb in September wrote a blog post for the American Student Conduct Administration (ASCA). At a mentally and emotionally taxing time for both students and staff, this ASCA post provides guidance for staff for in-person and virtual on campus operations.
If your university is on-campus, be sure to provide your students with accurate information on where they can go to seek support and privacy to hold their student conduct meetings. While many student conduct meetings are being held virtually, even if a campus is fully on, limited face-to-face interaction is happening. Thus, to ensure student privacy and access, student conduct offices can utilize an unused study room, an empty dorm room, or a small conference space which ensure privacy and reliable internet access. It is important that you work with various faculty and staff form residential life, university life, and more to work in tandem to ensure that safe spaces are available for students to hold their student conduct meetings privately.
For a student at home, the challenges of providing a safe space for them increases as students may not have access to reliable transportation, technology, or reliable internet and cell service. Offer to your students going to a park, a local library, outdoor coffee shop, or even a parking lot that has access to wifi where there is some level of privacy that may not be facilitated inside a student’s home. Additionally, offer flexible times to meet when students have access to privacy, such as when family members are at work, grocery shopping, running errands, or sleeping. If privacy cannot be created, some hearing offices may make amendments and allow a student to respond in writing, instead of over the phone or via a teleconference.
The mission of supporting student growth and education has fundamentally not changed, despite the changes to our world. Therefore, universities are turning to Symplicity Advocate as the trusted solution for student conduct, Title IX, and behavioral intervention especially now. Advocate collects critical data to share with key decision-makers that ensures that everyone has the information need to make the right decisions to support students. Additionally, Advocate helps institutions avoid liability issues by ensuring compliance with DOE and OCR.