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By MATT DEMIRS ‘18
EDITOR IN CHIEF

The Lake Forest College student handbook saw significant revisions made to to the student conduct procedures for this school year.

“Previously, students could be referred for a hearing with an individual hearings office or they could be referred to a conduct board but it was never clear why they were being referred to either,” said Stacy Oliver-Sikorski, Associate Director of Residence Life for Student Success. “It was a subjective process that happened in our office depending on the scope of the incident or the student’s past conduct history.”

With the new procedures, every incident of misconduct is examined by an administrative conference, made up of a trained hearings officer from the Office of Residence Life, as well as staff members from Students Affairs who are being trained, Oliver said.

The conference is meant to go over the policies with students, while giving them the opportunity to speak with a hearings officer about the incident and decision making which led to the behavior.

At the end of this 30-40 minute conference, the student will have the opportunity to take responsibilities for their actions, resulting in a sanction that will be decided at that hearing.

In order to be consistent across disciplinary sanctions, the student will sign a checklist agreeing to specific areas that were touched upon during the disciplinary process.

If a student declines responsibility for the alleged actions, the incident is then forwarded to conduct board – a three-person council which can be chaired by any other trained hearings officer.

If the student is found responsible for the actions, the hearings officer chairing that conduct board will determine the sanctions and how they are consistent with how they sanction other students throughout the process, Oliver said.

Appeals to sanctions will now be reviewed by an appellant board, something that was formerly addressed to the Dean of Students.

“It never made sense because when you think about advocacy for students, you want the Dean of Students to be able to advocate for you,” she said. “It put them in a difficult position of ‘I want to support you but I might also be your appeals officer.’

The appellant board has the power to reduce or stand by the student’s sanctions, demand the case to be the board again, and review the written appeals.

This board is made up of a faculty member, a staff member, and a student from the same pool of people from conduct board. Students will not have the same officer at their conduct board meeting as they had in the administrative conference.

Lauren Bell ‘18, a member of the conduct board during the 2016-2017 school year, said she is hopeful the new procedure will be more fair and constructive for students facing conduct issues.

She also said that due to trained professionals now deciding sanctions, a lot of the pressure is relieved from students who served on the board.

“I think students who were on it (conduct board) would often feel conflicted about how to handle certain situations,” she said. “Trained faculty will be able to be more objective and help the student more in the long run than the types of sanctions that were given out in conduct board.”

Oliver said it was unclear when the last time the conduct procedures were updated, however she believes it could have been around 10 years ago.

“Our hope is that this process will students allow students to reflect on how their behavior not only impacts themselves, but also the community. We want this to be less punitive and more educational,” Oliver said. “The last process always claimed to be educational but never felt that way if you were part of it. We also wanted it to be less about their past behaviors and more about their future behavior. We’re really trying to hope to not punish people but help them get back on the path they hope to be on.” 

Matt Demirs can be reached at demirsml@lakeforest.edu

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