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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Community Standards Policy under full review for first time since 2003

Carleton’s Community Standards Policy is currently under review. According to Amy Sillanpa, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Community Standards, the review team is considering several changes: revising outdated language, reorganizing the policy and its web page, adding a passive participation policy, expanding the hazing policy and creating a page of frequently asked questions about the student conduct process.

Sillanpa said that the process of reviewing the policy began right away when she started in her position as director of community standards in the fall of 2016. While Carleton’s Community Standards Policy has not been fully reviewed since 2003, Sillanpa noted that some individual policies within it have been reviewed during that time.

Community Standards “outline behavior expected of Carleton students as members of this community,” Sillanpa said.

“Discussions about revising the Community Standards policy predated my arrival at Carleton,” said Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston. “It was not until Amy Sillanpa’s appointment as Assistant Dean and Director of Community Standards did we have the dedicated personnel and expertise to revise this policy.”

“Really, for any policies, they should be reviewed on a regular basis,” Sillanpa said. “It’s something that a lot of schools do annually, or will do every few years, just to make sure that it’s updated.”

“Community standards encompasses non-academic social misconduct, academic integrity, sexual misconduct, the alcohol policy, medical amnesty, etc.,” Livingston said.

The review team currently consists of Sillanpa; Gerald Young, Athletic Director and Professor of Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation (PEAR); Tanya Hartwig, Associate Director for the Office of Residential Life; and Blake Held, Assistant Director of Security Services and Emergency Management. According to Sillanpa, the team hopes to add two to three students soon. The team is slated to deliver policy recommendations to Dean Livingston and to several campus governance committees before they are approved.

“We want to consider the current needs of students and current behavioral concerns. We also need to ensure our policies are up to date with current practices and laws. This is needed particularly when law and legislation change,” Sillanpa said. “It is important that we are regularly reviewing the Community Standards since the needs of the students and College are always changing.”

Two policies that are not currently under review are the Title IX policy and the academic integrity policies. Sillanpa said that these would be reviewed at a later time.

“I am hopeful for an updated community standards policy that provides greater clarity to the Carleton community,” Livingston said.

According to Hartwig, the Office of Residential life hopes the policy update will “make sure that the values that we speak about in the document are still actually a reflection of what Carleton’s values are.”

“The document hasn’t had a thorough update for over a decade,” Hartwig said. “Times change, students change, the demographics of our institution have changed, our community has evolved.”

Hartwig added that the Residential Life office will train staff regarding policy changes, but that Residential Life’s day-to-day procedures will not see a major change. Policy changes “will be something that we’ll train and educate our staff around, but I don’t think any of the procedures or the way that we as Residential Life handle things will be changed significantly,” she said.

In the fall, the review team focused on research and benchmarking what such policies—often called “codes of conduct”—look like at other institutions, according to Sillanpa. This term, the review team is meeting with different community groups and holding open community meetings to receive feedback.

On February 4, Sillanpa and Held met with CSA Senate to discuss the Community Standards. Several senators raised concerns about the policy’s statement on “Carleton’s Values,” specifically mentioning accessibility and cultural and lifestyle differences in their discussion. Others expressed the concern that the Community Standards policy insufficiently defines terms like “civility,” “educational process” and “community,” in its current wording.

CSA President Apoorva Handigol ’19 expressed agreement with senators’ questions, such as those surrounding accessibility issues and a perceived lack of transparency about Carleton’s social conduct policies, in addition to the definition of “community.”

“How are we defining community, and does that include staff and faculty?” asked Handigol. “Because I feel like students do talk about concerns with other students, but when it comes to talking about staff and faculty, and those power dynamics that come into play—and when students feel that faculty or staff have violated community standards—how do they find the policies about this? Do they know where to access them? Do they know how to support themselves besides filing a CCF?”

After meetings with community groups conclude, the team will submit a proposal for approval by the Tuesday Group, College Council, the Committee on Student Life (CSL) and the Board of Trustees during Spring Term 2019.

Sillanpa said the potential expansion of the hazing policy is not related to the hazing incident that took place in the spring of 2017.

“We were talking about a lot of these things prior to [the hazing incident],” she said. In terms of policy’s content, she said, “I would like something more detailed, just to help students understand it better so that they know what’s expected.”

While the team is still benchmarking and conducting research, a revised policy may include more examples and educational resources about hazing.

“I think that we could have some more comprehensive explanation and education around hazing,” Hartwig said. “Although I wouldn’t say that’s a large focus of what we’re doing. It’s just a piece.”

The addition of a passive participation policy is also under consideration, after having been suggested to the review team by participants in the focus groups, according to Sillanpa. Sillanpa defined “passive participation” as “being complicit to something dangerous or illegal going on, where you might not actually be doing the illegal behavior, but it’s unsafe, and we want to make sure that students know that they’re involved just by being in that space and being aware of it.”

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that by being present for something, you are held to the same standard as somebody who is actively violating a policy,” said Hartwig. “It’s just meaning that there’s some sort of responsibility there. Right now I’m not sure where those components are going to land with things, but they’re definitely things we’re exploring to see if they would be right for our community.”

Asked whether such a policy would have been useful during the aftermath of the hazing incident in 2017, Sillanpa said, “I think the group was fairly secretive, so the people involved who put on the event were all involved. So I don’t know that there would have been anyone who was under ‘passive participation.’”

The Carletonian previously reported that one student of the 13 implicated in the hazing incident received lesser sanctions than their peers and was the only one permitted to walk at commencement. An anonymous student who was present at the hearing told the Carletonian in 2017 that the student allowed to walk had been less involved in the hazing, and that “the unequal treatment in the aftermath of the hazing incident is because of the unequal involvement.”

“For that case, we applied the the policies and procedures of the College,” Sillanpa said. “Violations of the hazing policy were found in the original decision, as well as when the students appealed to Judicial Hearing Board. The College does not and did not have a passive participation policy so it’s impossible to comment on whether that would have applied if we did.”

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