Students charged with citations will soon have to participate in educational workshops designed to change illegal behavior.
Are actions of misconduct committed off campus as significant as those committed on campus?
Officials at Cal Poly believe so.
Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Adrienne Miller said anything violating law and potentially threatening the Cal Poly community is significant enough for a student to be held accountable for — even if the student is not on campus.
“Section B(18) of the Standards for Student Conduct gives the university the authority to address off-campus conduct that poses as a substantial threat to the safety of the members of the university community,” Miller said.
B(18) allows the university to address “any act chargeable as a violation of a federal, state, or local law that poses a substantial threat to the safety or well being of members of the University community.” It has helped university administrators determine that anything citable as an alcohol offense poses as a threat to the university community.
However, instead of using a disciplinary process when confronting students who break university policy off campus, Miller is taking a different approach.
The Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities is developing a program for students to participate in educational activities as reprehension for their violations.
Although the workshop is still being designed, it will contain written materials intended for student reflection and in-person workshops where students will meet, interact and learn about the impact of their actions on the community.
“Our goal is to have students be more thoughtful about their actions and the effect their actions have on themselves and others,” Miller said.
A group of students also contributed to the program’s formation. The advisory committee consists of seven students that represent different groups across campus, such as housing, greek life and Associated Students, Inc. Along with giving input throughout the process, they’ve helped fulfill unmet needs of the awareness program by asking fellow students what mattered to them.
Part of the program is paid for by the Office of Student Affairs. Once instituted, the workshop will be funded through registration fees paid by participants. Miller hopes the workshop will be fully developed some time this fall quarter.
As the developing process moves forward, the committee is searching for an off-campus coordinator. The coordinator will work out of the Dean of Students’ office and will emphasize the educational process, not the conduct process.
In addition to administering the program off campus, the coordinator will also serve as an aid to help students make the transition from on-campus to off-campus living.
“We hope the off-campus coordinator will help students take community leadership roles that Cal Poly students are capable of taking,” Miller said.
Under the new program, students charged with off-campus misconduct of behavior are given the opportunity to choose a resolution. If they accept the legitimacy of the citation, they go through the educational process. However, if they dispute it, they can appeal through the student conduct process, and will be charged with section B(18) if found guilty. This triggers the standard infraction process.
University Police Chief George Hughes believes the program is a great step towards student success and safety.
“As with any problem you’re dealing with, strict enforcement is not always the best approach,” Hughes said. “Our goal here in this institution is student success … and I think (the way) to help them reach that, if they make some poor decision — off campus or on campus — is to look at an educational way to change behavior.”
Currently, University Police Department (UPD) assists San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) in handling off-campus behavior by working together to patrol areas. When a large amount of partying and social disorder occurs on off-campus neighborhoods (such as during events like move-in week and Halloween) they collaborate to work “efficiently and effectively,” Hughes said.
SLOPD reports all off-campus crime — including all arrests, citations and actions of misconduct — to Cal Poly via a daily log.
SLOPD recently installed a camera on the corner of Bond and Hathway. This is for the general safety of the community rather than a result of off-campus behavior policies, SLOPD Captain and Public Information Officer Chris Staley said.
“During events like Poly Royal and Mardi Gras, civil unrests and riots occur in that area more frequent,” he said.
Although UPD has no control over off campus cameras, Hughes said that cameras are simply used as an investigative tool.
“The use of any security camera can be to determine behavior, but it can also help capture events that are occurring … not to invade in privacy, but to protect what’s going on there,” he said. “If crime does occur, then we have a tool for that camera to identify exactly when, where, maybe identify suspects and evidence in the case.”
Staley said students’ off-campus actions are of particular significance to SLOPD.
“We all live in this community. Behaviors still impact the reputation for the community to embrace Cal Poly as a whole,” he said.
“This is our community — whether you’re on campus or off … we have the responsibility to the community wellbeing,” Hughes said. “If that is holding (students) responsible for their actions when we can and using any tool that we can to change negative behavior, I think it’s our responsibility as campus administrators to do that.”