Three representatives from the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) met with members of the Office of Dean of Students (DOS) and the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) on Friday to discuss the proposed changes to the University’s Student Guide. This was the second meeting to discuss revisions and reach a compromise between UGBC’s goals and the administration’s. The next meeting is expected to take place before winter break.
Thomas Napoli, chairman of the Institutional Policy Review committee (IPR) and A&S ’16, Daniel Sundaram, coordinator of Student Rights & Conduct and A&S ’16, and Elinor Mitchell, vice chair of the Student Organizations Board and A&S ’15, discussed the proposed changes with members of the administration.
These three students make up the Student Guide Revision Committee, along with Director of OSI Gus Burkett; Associate Director of OSI Mark Miceli; Assistant Director of OSI Karl Bell; Associate Director of Leadership Involvement Jean Yoder; graduate assistant Melissa Woolsey, LGSOE ’16; and Assistant Director for Student Engagement Kyndra Angell.
The proposed changes include an overhaul of free speech policies that currently restrict flier and banner usage to members of student organizations. Policies regarding bringing speakers to campus would be revised to make the process less restrictive Proposed changes to student rights include the right to review records and the right to appeal without fear of retaliations.
Lastly,UGBC hopes to revise the conduct system to change the level of proof necessary to indict a student during an appeal. They also hope to reintroduce an intermediary level of punishment in the conduct system, according to Napoli. The guide should be a document that students can use to access their rights and to establish what they can and cannot do at the University, Napoli said.
In addition to content changes, Napoli, Sundaram, and Mitchell hope to reformat of the student guide. Right now, the current guide is an online version of a book, which makes it confusing and hard to navigate, Napoli said.
The committee plans to simplify the guide by creating either a series of links to direct students to the websites that explain University policies in detail or a comprehensive list of the policies.
“One goal is to make the Student Guide … the equivalent of Google for BC,” Sundaram said. “Any questions that you have about BC—how to start a club, what’s the pet policy, fire policy … those questions should all start at the Student Guide. The Student Guide should be the jumping off point.”
UGBC has been talking to DOS and OSI about the guide since the beginning of the semester. At this point, the meetings have revolved around discussing potential changes, sharing ideas, and finding common ground.
None of the rules on campus are arbitrary, according to Mitchell. There are stories behind the policies currently in place.
“Part of what our committee is going to attempt to do is just look at those reasons—are they legitimate, do they still apply—and also for us to be a conduit between the administration and students to help students understand why the rules are there,” she said.
Although UGBC hopes that many changes will be made, Sundaram acknowledged that there will be concessions on both sides.
There is a lot to consider, in part because a large revision of this kind has not been done in a long time, although smaller revisions are made every year. there will be smaller meetings in the future to discuss specific parts of the guide as well as meetings with the whole committee to make sure everyone is staying on task, according to Miceli.
“UGBC has been working hard to get input from many constituents on campus, and I appreciate their hard work and dedication to improve the guide for their fellow students,” he said.
The Student Guide revision procedure will be a long-term process because there are so many people who have to read over the new policies in order to ensure that the guide is airtight, Sundaram said. The guide affects every member of the BC community, and there are a lot of benchmarks that need to be met so that it fits every person. Instituting new policies midway through the semester would create a lot of confusion, however, he said.
The new policies could potentially be in place for the fall 2015 semester. The Student Guide Revision Committee will continue to work on it for the rest of the year, and then over the summer, the different policies will be changed online to be ready for the school year, according to a projected timeline Sundaram gave.
UGBC is collaborating with OSI and DOS, hoping to reach a compromise that meets the needs of both sides. Meetings thus far have been collaborative, rather than UGBC presenting the revisions as an all-or-nothing deal.
“This is an ongoing process,” she said. “This wasn’t ever meant to be the administration taking or leaving what we’re coming up with.”
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor