PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University President Kirk Schulz announced the appointment of a 15-member task force that will undertake a comprehensive review of the university’s student conduct process.
Craig Hemmens, professor and chair, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, will lead the task force of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors representing WSU campuses statewide.
Five staff members will serve as ex officio advisors to the task force.
The task force will recommend ways to improve the fairness and educational value of the current student conduct process.
Members will examine conduct processes used by other universities, review current research in the field, and consider other information that could assist their efforts.
“Our goal is to revise our conduct process to reflect best practices nationally,” Schulz said.
“We are committed to implementing conduct standards that provide a fair and equitable process for all students while protecting the safety and rights of the entire WSU community,” Schulz added.
The in-depth review was prompted by feedback Schulz received from the WSU community after he began his presidency in June.
Individuals and organizations suggested the university’s conduct process could be improved and represent WSU’s values better.
The president planned to review the process at the end of the calendar year, but the timeline was expedited when Whitman County Superior Court in mid-November overturned the suspension of a WSU student-athlete and cited procedural errors the conduct board made as the basis for the ruling.
The time for the task force’s work is expected to take three to four months to complete.
The group will document it’s findings in a report and make recommendations to Schulz, who will submit any proposed changes to the Board of Regents for consideration and possible adoption.
The WSU community and the public are invited to submit input about the student conduct process online (https://wsu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8qraZLUVQOsWFQp), and multiple opportunities to provide additional comments will be provided, including public comment periods at Regents’ meetings and a hearing at which the public may comment on any proposed new rules and revisions to existing rules.
The Regents will vote on any recommended revisions to WSU rules.
The university hopes to have a revised student conduct process in place for the beginning of the 2017 fall semester.
The broad review of the task force will be complemented by the narrower review led by the law firm Lyons O’Dowd, which is examining the specific issue of alleged racial and ethnic bias in the student conduct process.
That report is expected to be available in early to mid-January and will be considered by the task force as part of its deliberations.
In the meantime, the university will implement some emergency rules for student conduct hearings occurring prior to the adoption of the task force recommendations.
That decision was made after Division III of the Washington Court of Appeals ruled December 1 that WSU and other public institutions of higher education in the state must use a full adjudication process in cases where students face expulsion or are accused of sexual assault.
WSU does not plan to appeal the court’s decision.
For additional details about the conduct review are available online at https://president.wsu.edu/student-conduct-boards/.
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