To avoid on-campus violations, students can read handbook

The goal of the campus judicial system is to fairly assess behavior and to take corrective action accordingly, said the associate dean of students.The campus judicial system operates on the understanding that students know what they can and cannot do, said Glory Robinson, disciplinary officer and associate dean of students.

She said it is her job to process violations of the student code of conduct, and her goal is to form an assessment of how the violations should be treated by speaking to as many sources as possible.

Robinson said when meeting with students she often asks “Do you have your student handbook?”

She said she thinks most students don’t look at the handbook until they think it applies to them, but that reading ahead of time could prevent many problems.

Depending on the violation, she receives reports from residential assistants, hall directors, campus police or a combination of all three. She said when the violation in question involves not just a break in the student code of conduct but an actual crime, the campus police are notified. Examples of this sort of case include drug offenses, theft or vandalism of campus property.

Alternative to Time

Sgt. Kelly Ham of the TCU Police said he likes working at TCU because there are options other than throwing people in jail. He said he performs an investigation in the same manner he would in a criminal case, but instead of taking the reports downtown, he turns them in to the Student Life office where Robinson determines what actions will be taken.

If criminal charges are pressed against the violator, either by another student or the university, campus police will handle the prosecution of the offending individual, Ham said. If a violation occurs on campus but outside a residence hall, the officer on the scene must decide how the situation should be handled, Ham said.

Ham said criminal charges are most likely to be pressed in cases involving violence, sexual assault or drugs in large quantity.

Because every case is unique, Robinson said, her greatest concern is to be reasonable when assessing each case and to find a way to correct disciplinary problems that most accurately fit the infraction.

“It’s not black and white, and so I think it’s always really important to sit down and have a conversation with students,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the only infractions that are not assessed on a case-by-case basis are alcohol and drug violations. These cases are handled by the Alcohol and Drug Education Office.

The Student Handbook states students have the right to file a complaint if they feel their rights have been violated. Any case processed by the judicial system can be appealed. In each case, the student’s complaint is judged by four faculty members appointed by the Faculty Senate, four students appointed by the president of the House of Student Representatives with the approval of the House and three administrators appointed by the chancellor. This court functions like a true court of law, except the chancellor can reverse any decision made by the judicial board.

Finding Help

According to the handbook, students who seek help for alcohol and drug abuse problems will be assisted by campus officials in finding proper treatment options.

The Student Handbook reports instances of crime on campus, and in the period from 2004 to 2006 alcohol was the most prominent crime by a large margin.

Sparkle Greenhaw, associate director of the Alcohol & Drug Education Center, said a comprehensive approach must be taken to properly treat problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse.

“Prevention programming, staff training, enforcement, community awareness and peer help are all important components,” Greenhaw said.

“Most students who come to ADE do not have a significant substance abuse problem, but may be struggling with depression, homesickness, academic problems, roommate conflicts, grief or other issues,” Greenhaw said. “I can help to link students with resources and support, hopefully before these issues become significant problems.”

Emily Housley, housing director for Moncrief Hall, said all members of the campus’ judicial system are connected by a computer program called Adirondack Solutions, which allows users to relay information about students to other members of the judicial system, and keep a central file of student behavior.

She said she is only responsible for students who reside in Moncrief Hall, and Adirondack allows hall directors from other buildings to know what violations students from their hall may have incurred in other residences. She said the system also allows resident assistants to report resident issues such as emotional trauma, social withdrawal or depression to keep tabs on students who could use a listening ear.

In Case of Emergency

Housley cited the Virginia Tech Massacre as one of the main reasons for adopting the Adirondack software. She said many people at Virginia Tech had concerns about gunman Seung-Hui Cho, but because these concerns were not centralized, no actions were taken ahead of time to prevent the situation from worsening.

Justin Brown, an RA in Milton Daniel Hall, said it is his job to make his residents’ lives better. He said he doesn’t go out looking for residents who are breaking the rules, but that violations are most often found during safety checks, and the most common violation is alcohol.

Brown said the RA’s role in processing violations is often misunderstood. He said it is his job to accurately document what occurred that was in violation of the student code of conduct, which is not a form of punishment. Deciding the consequences of a student’s actions are then placed in the hands of the hall directors and student life, Brown said.

Ham said the main problem in the 22 years he has worked for TCU is outsiders victimizing the campus and breaking into cars. He said TCU has made major steps toward solving this problem by installing high-definition, infrared cameras with license recognition software in some of the parking lots. Ham said he has noticed a growing trend in recent years of students stealing from other students.

Ham said he urges students to report any suspicious activity on campus with no hesitation, and often crimes could be prevented, but students are unsure if they should get involved. He said the police department is open 24 hours a day seven days a week. He said he would rather students over report suspicious incidents rather than have a crime go unreported.